Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 56.79
Liaison Ryan Chabot
Submission Date April 23, 2024

STARS v2.2

University of Central Florida
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Ryan Chabot
Sustainability Coordinator
Arboretum and Sustainability Initiatives
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Does the institution have an active student group focused on sustainability?:

Name and a brief description of the active student groups focused on sustainability:
Each active student group falls into one or more initiative areas and is centralized around the goal of sustainability, despite their range in focuses.

Student groups include, but are not limited to:
Association of Environmental Professionals, who connect students with environmental-focused professionals and opportunities;
Knights for Animal Rights, who promote ethical eating practices and advocate for animal welfare;
Intellectual Decisions on Environmental Awareness Solutions (IDEAS) For Us, who promote environmental action on campus and within the community;
Knights for Wildlife Conservation, who volunteer to conserve wild habitats in Florida;
Urban Knights Planning Association, who connect students to emerging urban planners and provide resources for involvement in the field;
Volunteer UCF, who organize various volunteer opportunities including specifically focused divisions in environment, global health, hunger and homelessness, and animal awareness;
Defend Our Future, which is building a diverse coalition of partners with a shared goal of finding actionable and common sense solutions to solving climate change;
Re:Wild UCF, which is working to promote and educate on the importance of organic land management practices while working with the university to remove synthetic herbicides from campus;
Marine Biology Education and Awareness Club, who educate students in marine conservation, ecology, and policy as well as provide career outreach opportunities;
Knighthawk Audubon, who work to foster interest in ornithology on campus and work with the community and local Audubon chapters to facilitate the conservation of local and national avifauna and their ecosystems;
The Wetlands Club at UCF, who work to promote conservation, restoration, and sustainability of wetlands;
Society of Environmental Engineers, who do career networking and volunteer to make an impact in the local community and environment;
Environmental Fashion Foundation, who promote sustainable fashion practices; and
Global Legal Empowerment Brigades, who empower volunteers to facilitate legal clinics for under-resourced communities to resolve global health and economic disparities.

Homepage of UCF Registered Student Organizations: https://knightconnect.campuslabs.com/engage/

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 university has a community farm and garden located in the Arboretum Park. Recently a fruit orchard has been added as well. It is managed by the Community Farm and Gardens team of interns and utilized daily as a volunteering space, educational medium, and food security provider. The team plants organic seasonal crops each semester, utilizing sustainable practices such as integrated pest management. The team, aided by student volunteers, is responsible for consistent garden maintenance and harvesting. Volunteers are typically given complimentary produce for their time, and the rest of the produce is donated to the Knights Helping Knights Pantry, where students can pick up free food and essential items with their Student I.D. free of charge daily. The Arboretum also has a 1,000 square foot greenhouse that supports educational and research efforts in its propagation tables and prospective hydroponic systems.

Additionally, the university has an on-campus garden at the Creative School for Children, which is utilized as a learning space for pre-school students and to locally supplement their meals and snacks. This garden is integrated into weekly lesson plans of every age group, as well as part of their daily recess time. Space is maintained by school staff, comprised of mostly undergraduate and graduate students.

Fresh U, a program within Wellness and Health Promotion Services, sponsors the upkeep of hydroponic tower gardens within active spaces on campus, such as the Student Union and Recreation and Wellness Center. The tower gardens grow herbs and small produce plants year-round that supplement weekly tower garden workshops and cooking demos/classes.

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:
The Greenhouse team at the Arboretum is run by student interns and responsible for supplying and managing campus plant sales. Plant sales are hosted monthly and are very popular with the student body. The funds from plant sales are used to cover the Greenhouse team’s costs, as well as serving as a main source of income for the Arboretum to use towards events and supply their teams so they are able to maintain their important horticultural, landscaping, and sustainability promoting tasks on campus.

There is also an apiary at the Arboretum that is managed by students in the Honeybee Biology and Beekeeping class as well as the Beekeeping club. They have been harvesting and selling honey on campus since the summer of 2019 as a fundraiser for the Pollinator program. Honey can only be harvested once a year in the summer, but students take care of the hives year-round and set aside bottles to sell every semester. They have collaborated with UCF Dining Services to sell Arboretum honey at their monthly Farmers Market hosted for students, which has been very successful. The honey is in high demand and always sells out, and the funds are used to maintain the Pollinator gardens around campus.

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:
An important recurring event hosted collaboratively by Student Government and Sustainability Initiatives is Green Assembly. Currently, students meet biweekly to discuss ideas and concerns they have about campus sustainability issues. There is an education component as well as a discussion component, with an open forum for students to make their voices heard. Green Assembly especially aims to connect student leaders to promote collaboration and a more cohesive approach to sustainability on campus.

In the past few fall and spring semesters, the UCF Chapter of the Central Florida Association of Environmental Professionals has hosted an “environmental job opportunities panel.” Professionals working in different aspects of the environmental industry come to speak to students about their career paths, and there is a Q&A component for students to ask questions. There are also networking opportunities as some employers are looking to hire.

Earth Justice Week has been held during spring semesters in the last three years. It is a weeklong event organized by Student Government’s Sustainability & Innovation Coordinator in celebration of Earth Day. Activities have included a sustainability fair, cooking classes, sustainability specialist guest speakers, an environmental career fair, a plant sale with the Arboretum, a movie night, and a campus-wide cleanup.

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:
The university has hosted various art exhibitions related to sustainability including visual and cinematic art events. The most recent exhibition being “Covering Carbon,” shown from August 24 – September 29, 2023 in the UCF Art Gallery and free to enter for UCF students. “Through different visual and conceptual approaches, the exhibition highlights the power and impact of fossil fuels on our contemporary existence, while also acknowledging their hidden and mysterious nature, controlled by the industry.”

The university has also screened sustainability-focused films and series on campus; for instance, a student-made documentary series titled Tales of Sunshine: Florida EcoStories has been screened at the Arboretum on occasions such as Earth Day 2022.

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:
The university has an Outdoor Adventure Center, via the Recreation and Wellness Center, that offers a variety of rental gear either free of charge or at very low cost to students including kayaks, tents, sleeping bags, surfboards, and paddleboards for outdoor enjoyment. This program sponsors outdoor adventure trips year-round (going hiking, camping, surfing, diving, to name a few trips), an on-campus ropes challenge course, an indoor climbing tower, SCUBA certifications, and equipment rentals. In addition, this program manages Lake Claire, an outdoor park facility with free kayak and paddleboard rentals, a volleyball field, and exercise stations for students to utilize. All of the prior mentioned services follow and promote 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 university has hosted an annual Kill-A-Watt Energy Conservation Competition to educate and promote behavior modification in everyday energy usage. This is accomplished by setting aside a two-month competition period for on-campus housing communities. Throughout its duration, residents receive education on how to reduce personal energy usage, with the incentive of winning one of fifteen available scholarships. This competition was held annually from 2007 to 2020, after which it was put on hold due to Covid. The Sustainability Initiatives office is working hard with Student Government to revive this popular event. https://sustainable.ucf.edu/kaw

UCF also has programs to promote social and financial sustainability. Wellness & Health Promotion Services (WHPS) offers a wide variety of services and programs aimed at helping UCF students form healthy lifestyle habits. Some of these services include: cooking demonstrations and classes, a FreshU market, healthy recipes, wellness coaching, couponing sessions, and outreach and educational workshops on topics like safe sex, nutrition, stress management, sleep, healthy relationships and body image. There is also a financial literacy webinar program called Centsible Knights which provides information and resources to enhance students’ financial knowledge and equip them to make sound financial decisions. https://whps.sdes.ucf.edu/

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

A brief description of the sustainability-focused student employment opportunities offered by the institution:
The university offers many student employment opportunities, mainly through the Arboretum & Sustainability Initiatives Learning by Leading (LxL) program. The program consists of the following teams made up of 50+ student interns, and growing every semester: Ambassadors, Community Farm and Gardens, Greenhouse, Land Management, Media and Marketing, Pollinator Gardens/Bee Campus, Stormwater, Sustainability Initiatives, Urban Forestry, and Urban Horticulture. Each team is led by two student Co-Coordinators, which are paid positions. https://arboretum.ucf.edu/programs/lxl/

There are also student research positions within various colleges and/or departments with sustainability research focuses, and student positions within unrelated campus departments with sustainability titles and goals, such as the Student Government position of Sustainability & Innovation Coordinator.
(An example of a research group in the chemistry department that studies effects of aerosol particles on climate change and is working on developing alternative fuel sources) https://sciences.ucf.edu/chemistry/popolan-vaidalab/research/

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):

A brief description of other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives that do not fall into one of the above categories:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

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