Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.07
Liaison Mark Maxwell
Submission Date Feb. 25, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

University of California, Merced
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Jacob Croasdale
Coordinator of the Yosemite Leadership Program
Student Life
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have one or more co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives that fall into the following categories?:
Yes or No
Active student groups focused on sustainability Yes
Gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, or urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems Yes
Student-run enterprises that include sustainability as part of their mission statements or stated purposes No
Sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives through which students can develop socially, environmentally and fiscally responsible investment and financial skills No
Conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience Yes
Cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience Yes
Wilderness or outdoors programs that follow Leave No Trace principles Yes
Sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences Yes
Programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills Yes
Sustainability-focused student employment opportunities offered by the institution Yes
Graduation pledges through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions No
Other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives Yes

The name and a brief description of each student group focused on sustainability:

UC Merced has at least 4 active student groups focused on aspects of sustainability. They include: ASUCM (student government) Sustainability Council, Engineers for a Sustainable World (sustainable engineering projects including building of campus community garden and solar irrigation system), Green Campus (Power Save UC Merced), and Earth Club (sustainability focused student organization. The URL listed below includes information on all of these student groups.

Green Campus/Power Save UC Merced has lead a variety of energy and water saving competitions and campaigns amongst student groups and campus housing. Each campaign has been vibrant with student participation and has resulted in energy/water use reductions during the duration of the campaigns.

The Sustainability Commissioner for ASUCM was able to leverage relationship with campus administration and student groups as a freshman, convincing the UC Merced to invest in providing reusable water bottles to every freshman on campus and to install a new hydration station on campus to promote the use of resuable water bottles and water conservation. This created huge buzz on campus around sustainability.

Each of these groups took an active part in creating, planning, and implementing the first Eco Fest at UC Merced in Fall 2015. Students who participated in Eco Fest were able to earn an updated version of the reusable water bottles provided to freshmen the year before. Eco Fest was a huge success.


The website URL where information about student groups is available:
A brief description of gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems:

UC Merced students, faculty and staff have collaborated to implement a 625 square foot campus garden to grow seasonal vegetables and herbs. The garden was championed by Writing Faculty and Master Gardener, De Ette Silbaugh. The planter boxes and initial irrigation system were designed and built in 2013. Students from Engineers for a Sustainable World have maintained the irrigation system and collaborated with students from the Yosemite Leadership Program to implement campus planting days.


The website URL where information about the organic agriculture and/or sustainable food systems projects and initiatives is available:
A brief description of student-run enterprises that include sustainability as part of their mission statements or stated purposes:
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The website URL where information about the student-run enterprise(s) is available:
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A brief description of the sustainable investment or finance initiatives:
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The website URL where information about the sustainable investment or finance initiatives is available:
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A brief description of conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience:

The Alliance to Save Energy's Green Campus UC Merced hosts an Earth Week Speaker Series as part of the campus' Earth Week events. Past speakers have included campus and city leaders in sustainability initiatives. This is student-led.

The Yosemite Leadership Program (YLP) Speaker Series provides the UC Merced campus the opportunity to hear from inspiring individuals who are leading positive change in a variety of contexts. Past speakers have included: Founder and CEO of Latino Outdoors, Jose Gonzalez; California Water Commissioner, Armando Quintero; climbing pioneer, Royal Robins; international muralist, Katie Yamasaki; and many others.

Notably, the Yosemite Institute at UC Merced, which is currently on pause after funding challenges related to the federal sequestration in recent past, hosted President Jimmy Carter, E.O. Wilson, and Majora Carter among several other guest speakers to engage in discussions about sustainability and conservation with national and international public land managers and leaders.

The Department of Sustainability is now hosting a speaker series that recently featured David Masamoto, sustainable peach farmer and accomplished author. Students are able to take an active role in selecting speakers for this series.

TEDxUCMerced will be hosted in March 2016. Some of the speakers will share content related to sustainability. This event is student led.


The website URL where information about the event(s) is available:
A brief description of cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience:

A variety of art installations have come to UC Merced because of our focus on sustainability. One notable gallery event was hosting Anne Johnston, renowned quilt artist, who showcased her quilted representations of the Sierra Nevada. Also, UC Merced Arts Faculty, Richard Gomez, his students in an ART for Social Change course and facilitators of the Yosemite Leadership Program coordinated a project where students built life size humanoid figures out of trash collected in Yosemite National Park. The figures made of tires, water bottles, scrap metal, glass, etc. were put on display as an interactive installation in Yosemite, at the Merced Art Hop and finally at UC Merced.


The website URL where information about the cultural arts event(s) is available:
A brief description of wilderness or outdoors programs for students that follow Leave No Trace principles:

Located 90 miles from the entrance to Yosemite National Park, UC Merced is home to the Yosemite Leadership Program. The organization's mission states: "within the setting of two of America's most cherished landscapes at Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks and through the cooperative efforts of the organizations, the Yosemite Leadership Program seeks to realize opportunities for students at the University of California, Merced to gain practical leadership experiences through a variety of park based activities, offered to the members. Graduates of the Program will be recognized for their ability to lead and make ethical decisions that thoughtfully consider and balance opportunities and challenges, the communities in which they live and work, diversity, and the environment."

In partnership with Yosemite National Park, UC Merced houses a fully functional Wilderness Education Center, where students, employed as Rangers by the National Park Service, serve as wilderness liaisons to the campus community, Merced youth, and campus guests. These student rangers lead wilderness based trips, teach proper wilderness ethics and safety, and provide resources to anyone interested in engaging in Yosemite’s Wilderness.

The campus' recreation center also leads outdoor adventure trips, such as day trips into Yosemite National Park, week long trips into other area parks, river rafting, and other activities.


The website URL where information about the wilderness or outdoors program(s) is available:
A brief description of sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences:

Each year UC Merced selects a common read and schedules activities and presentations throughout the year that coincide with this book. For the 2013 academic year, the book was A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California by Laura Cunningham. This book explores the ecological history of California and some of the lectures/activities that were scheduled that year included: a field trip to the Vernal Pools and Grassland Natural Reserve, discussions on sustainability and human interaction/impact on California’s ecology.


The website URL where information about the theme is available:
A brief description of program(s) through which students can learn sustainable life skills:

The Yosemite Leadership Program provides its participants with a variety of workshops and wilderness based activities that foster ethical leadership behaviors and environmental awareness and understanding. YLP students gain a passion for wilderness, environmental sustainability, and social justice through the two-year cohort based program. The supportive, family like atmosphere reinforces shared discovery and understanding of sustainability and leadership topics. The Yosemite Leadership Program Summer Internship also fosters leading edge sustainable skills and practices through a 12 week internship in Yosemite National Park. Interns live and work in Yosemite National Park where they are able to interact daily with top of the line park managers, non-profit leaders, sustainability experts and leading scientists.


The website URL where information about the sustainable life skills program(s) is available:
A brief description of sustainability-focused student employment opportunities:

There are a variety of student internship and employment opportunities pertaining to sustainability. The Department of Sustainability provides a handful of internships where students partake in campus sustainability discussions and initiatives. Facilities management hires students to assist in leading UC Merced to zero landfill waste by 2020. The Office of Student Life employs students to focus on supporting the UC Merced Community Garden and other sustainability initiatives. Many of these internships have been made possible by the creation of Student Success Internships by the Division of Student Affairs at UC Merced.

Yosemite Leadership Program Summer Internship is a unique employment opportunity for UC Merced students. Room and Board is completely covered, and interns receive a $2500 scholarship upon completion. The internship program also has been awarded federal direct hiring authority for interns who successfully complete the summer and attain their degree thereafter. This means that any student who completes the internship and attains their undergraduate degree can be hired non competitively within the Department of the Interior.


The website URL where information about the student employment opportuntities is available:
A brief description of graduation pledges through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions:

Graduating seniors are not given a pledge. However, incoming students are encouraged to consider the UC Merced Principles of Community, which include, championing civic engagement and environmental sustainability.


The website URL where information about the graduation pledge program is available:
A brief description of other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives:

The Yosemite Leadership Program is considered to be a co-curricular program at UC Merced. The two year undergraduate experience ties in didactic learning with crystallizing learning and leadership experiences. The program culminates in the development of community-impacting capstone projects centered around social and/or environmental change.


The website URL where information about other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives is available:

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