Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 85.50
Liaison Breeana Sylvas
Submission Date Feb. 28, 2022

STARS v2.2

University of California, Merced
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.75 / 2.00 Allajah Wheatley
Zero Waste Coordinator
Sustainability Department
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an active student group focused on sustainability?:

Name and a brief description of the active student groups focused on sustainability:
UC Merced has at least 20 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), 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.

Does the institution have a garden, farm, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery program, or an urban agriculture project where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems?:

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 added an orchard site as well. The garden is used to grow produce for the campus food pantry.

Does the institution have a student-run enterprise that includes sustainability as part of its mission statement or stated purpose?:

A brief description of the student-run enterprises:

Does the institution have a sustainable investment fund, green revolving fund, or sustainable microfinance initiative through which students can develop socially, environmentally and fiscally responsible investment and financial skills?:

A brief description of the sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives:

Has the institution hosted a conference, speaker series, symposium, or similar event focused on sustainability during the previous three years that had students as the intended audience?:

A brief description of the conferences, speaker series, symposia, or similar events focused on sustainability:
The Environmental Systems Seminar that happens included topic items such as," Microscopes and satellites: engineering innovations to improve water quality and ecosystem monitoring for sustainable water and coastal resource management, and a discussion on "Clean electricity: the linchpin in a net-zero economy”. These seminars happen once a week every semester.

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.

Has the institution hosted a cultural arts event, installation, or performance focused on sustainability with the previous three years that had students as the intended audience?:

A brief description of the cultural arts events, installations, or performances focused on sustainability:
Shakespeare in Yosemite was founded in 2017 to bring short, accessible, and FREE productions of Shakespeare’s plays to Yosemite National Park for Earth Day and Shakespeare’s birthday each April. The shows are 90 minutes long, feature lots of music, and are adapted to address issues relevant to Earth Day and Yosemite. Casts are made up of UC Merced students, park rangers and Yosemite employees, and community members. The purpose of the plays are to draw the bridge between preservation, conservation, and art, in open conversations, and the open outdoors.

Does the institution have a wilderness or outdoors program that follow Leave No Trace principles?:

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 experience 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 in the communities in which they live and work, including ethical decisions on 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 1500 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.

Although not explicitly stated YLP does follow all of the Leave No Trace principles.

Has the institution had a sustainability-focused theme chosen for a themed semester, year, or first-year experience during the previous three years?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences:

Does the institution have a program through which students can learn sustainable life skills?:

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.

Does the institution offer sustainability-focused student employment opportunities?:

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.

Does the institution have a graduation pledge through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions?:

A brief description of the graduation pledge(s):
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.

A brief description of other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives that do not fall into one of the above categories:
The Energize Colleges internship 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 where students can participate and work on sustainability projects and gain hands on experience.

Additional documentation to support the submission:
Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
For more information visit links below.


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