Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 83.80
Liaison Mark Maxwell
Submission Date March 1, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

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
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Does the institution have one or more active student groups focused on sustainability?:
Yes

A brief description of active student groups focused on sustainability:

UC Merced has at least 45 active student groups focused on aspects of sustainability. They include: ASUCM (student government) Sustainability Council, Engineers for a Sustainable World (construct sustainable engineering projects that have included the campus community garden and solar irrigation system). The Sustainable Agricultural Society (promotes sustainable agricultural practices and educates members of the UC Community about the importance of agriculture in food supply), UC Sprouts (engages elementary students and teaches them about food), Yosemite Leadership (educates and inspires environmental advocacy and social change through skilled, ethical, and innovative intentional action), EcoReps (a peer to peer sustainability educators program), and Earth Club (sustainability focused student organization). These are some of the campus student groups focused on sustainability. The URL listed below includes information on these student groups.


The website URL where information about the student groups is available (optional):
Does the institution have gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and/or urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems?:
Yes

A brief description of the gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and/or urban agriculture projects:

The UC Merced Garden has approximately 19 raised beds and is overseen by the Campus Community Garden Committee which consists of students, faculty, and staff. The garden is managed and overseen by a student Garden Coordinator and a Master Gardener. The campus garden expanded from its initial debuted in 2013 and has since had 10 raised beds added, a new irrigation system installed, along with a shed, and trellis. The garden is used to grow produce for the campus food pantry.


The website URL where information about the gardens, farms or agriculture projects is available (optional):
Does the institution have student-run enterprises that include sustainability as part of their mission statements or stated purposes (e.g. cafés through which students gain sustainable business skills)?:
No

A brief description of the student-run enterprises:
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The website URL where information about the student-run enterprises is available (optional):
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Does the institution have 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

A brief description of the sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives:
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The website URL where information about the sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives is available (optional):
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Does the institution have conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience?:
Yes

A brief description of the conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability:

The Environmental Systems Seminar included topic items such as, “Will Climate Change Increase the Success & Impacts of Invasive Species,” and “The Biogeochemistry of Drought.” The SAFI Environmental Seminar Series on the campus included a discussion on "Developing Sustainable and Culturally Sensitive Food-Energy-Water System," along with a discussion on "Management Sustainable Agroecosystems: Lessons from California."

Additionally, the campus has held sustainability speakers on campus that have included, Fedele Bauccio, owner of Bon Appetit Management Company and Ellen Greenberg, the Deputy Director of Sustainability at CalTrans.


The website URL where information about the conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability is available (optional):
Does the institution have cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience?:
Yes

A brief description of the cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability:

The campus sustainability day also known as Ecofest held fall of 2016 collaborated with the ART for Social Change course to showcase the social aspect of sustainability displayed through student art drawings. Through the art displayed conversations and discussions around society and sustainability were made.


The website URL where information about the cultural arts events, installations or performances is available (optional):
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Does the institution have wilderness or outdoors programs (e.g. that organize hiking, backpacking, kayaking, or other outings for students) that follow Leave No Trace principles?:
Yes

A brief description of the wilderness or outdoors programs 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 are 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.

Most recently, these rangers have engaged all of Merced City’s 1300 fourth graders in the Every Kid in the Park initiative. All these students were presented Leave No Trace in school assemblies and then bused up to Yosemite for a day in the Park. Future trips will have every participating fourth grader leaving the park as a junior ranger.

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 programs is available (optional):
Does the institution have sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences (e.g. choosing a sustainability-related book for common reading)?:
Yes

A brief description of the 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 2017-2018 academic year students explored William Bryant Logan's, "Air". The book focused on air and the influences it has on society and the environment. The 2016-2017 academic year explored, “Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment,” by Sandra Steingraber. The book discusses environmental underpinnings in ecosystemic pollution. The 2015-2016 academic year focused on “Epitaph for a Peach,” by Mas Masumoto, which discussed sustainable farming practices and agriculture.”


The website URL where information about the sustainability-related themes is available (optional):
Does the institution have programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills?:
Yes

A brief description of the programs 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 Office of Student Life (OSL) also provides programs such as Money Wise to inform students on personal financial tools. OSL also provides sustainability and integrity training to interns, club leadership, and the student body.


The website URL where information about the sustainable life skills programs is available (optional):
Does the institution offer sustainability-focused student employment opportunities?:
Yes

A brief description of the sustainability-focused student employment opportunities offered by the institution:

There are a variety of student internship and employment opportunities pertaining to sustainability. The Department of Sustainability provides a handful of internships where students participate in campus sustainability discussions and initiatives. Positions include, a campus garden coordinator, green Labs and office interns, communication and sustainability intern. Facilities management hires students to assist with leading UC Merced to zero landfill waste by 2020. Internships provided to students have been made possible through the Student Success program offered by the Division of Student Affairs at UC Merced. The university Energize Colleges internship program provides internships for students.

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 awarded federal direct hiring authority for interns who successfully complete the summer program 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 Interior. Former interns can also apply to be a National Park Ranger at the Wilderness Education Center.


The website URL where information about the student employment opportunities is available:
Does the institution have graduation pledges through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions?:
No

A brief description of the graduation pledges:

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 pledges is available (optional):
Does the institution have other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives?:
Yes

A brief description of the 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 Energize Colleges internship also serves as a co-curricular program that provides students with experience on sustainability initiatives and topics. The students are able to work directly with community partners and organizations.


The website URL where information about other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives is available (optional):
Estimated percentage of students (full-time and part-time) that participate annually in sustainability-focused co-curricular education and outreach programs (0-100):
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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