Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 58.76
Liaison Krista Bailey
Submission Date July 29, 2011
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.0

Pennsylvania State University
ER-1: Student Sustainability Educators Program

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.47 / 5.00 Erik Foley
Managing Director
Sustainability Institute
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Total number of degree-seeking students enrolled at the institution:
44,817

Program name (1st program):
Penn State Eco-Reps Program

Number of students served by the program (1st program):
4,200

A brief description of how the student educators are selected (1st program):

Penn State Student Eco-Reps are first-year student sustainability educators living in residence halls. Eco-Reps educate and engage their peers through their own example, fun programs, and engaging campaigns. Application to the program is open to all incoming first-year students at Penn State University Park. Penn State has 20 other campus locations, several with residence halls, so it is possible that the program spreads to these other halls. Students interested in applying for a position send a cover letter explaining their interest, resume, and two references via email to the Eco-Rep Coordinator. Selected students are interviewed and reviewed by an Eco-Rep Selection Committee.


A brief description of the formal training that the student educators receive (1st program):

The overall approach of the Penn State Student Eco-Rep Program can be summarized as "lead by example, one issue at a time, one behavior at a time." We focus on promoting one or two behaviors a month in their halls. The targeted behaviors were chosen because they are actions students can control, are measurable and have the most significant environmental impact.

The Eco-Reps:
•Learn about the issue or problem the behavior is meant to address (such as the financial, environmental, and social impact issues of energy use)
•Adopt the new behaviors themselves
•Teach and empower their peers to adopt the new behaviors via passive (signage, online strategies) and active programming (events, in-person engagement).

To prepare for their role, the selected Eco-Reps participate in an all-day orientation before move-in day and attend weekly training programs. A high level of interactivity, hands-on learning and engagement is part of every training program. Students learn the basics of sustainability issues, resources and statistics from subject area experts from the Office of Physical Plant (OPP), Auxiliary and Business Services and various academic colleges. For excample, they learn about the types and amount of energy used at Penn State University Park from OPP energy engineers. The Eco-Reps learn the strategies and tools of effective behavior change using as a foundation the principles of community-based social marketing. Teambuilding training is also offered to get the Eco-Reps working effectively together and with others. Throughout the school year Eco-Reps receive training from Penn State leaders and take educational tours like a tour of the the community waste authority and the campus recycling tour.
Training is based on the theme or issue of each semester. Traditionally we have focused on energy one semester and waste (recycling/composting) the other semester.


A brief description of the staff and/or other financial support the institution provides to the program (1st program):

Currently, the coordinator of the Eco-Rep Program is a full-time staff member at the Penn State Campus Sustainability Office. The funding for the program is provided mainly from the Housing and Food Services department which is part of Auxiliary and Business Services. Other direct financial and in-kind support is provided by Residence Life and the Campus Sustainability Office. University Housing and Food Services funds the Eco-Reps stipends of $500 per semester. Residence Life funds programming supplies, food during orientation, and incentives needed for the Eco-Reps programs. Various university faculty and staff participate in training the Eco-Reps. The Campus Sustainability Office funds trainings, tours,transportation, some marketing materials, the Eco-Rep Handbook, Eco-Rep shirts, and food.


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The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.