Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 86.01
Liaison Patrick McKee
Submission Date March 6, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Connecticut
EN-1: Student Educators Program

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Richard Miller
Director
Ofice of Environmental Policy
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Number of students enrolled for credit (headcount):
23,603

Total number of students enrolled for credit that are served (i.e. directly targeted) by a student peer-to-peer sustainability outreach and education program (avoid double-counting to the extent feasible):
23,603

Percentage of students served by a peer-to-peer educator program:
100

Name of the student educators program:
EcoMadness & Recycle Thon Competitions

Number of students served (i.e. directly targeted) by the program (headcount):
8,000

A brief description of the program, including examples of peer-to-peer outreach activities:

EcoMadness and RecycleTHON are month long competitions, held in 38 residence halls across nine dorm areas around campus. EcoMadness focuses on encouraging mostly first- and second- year students to reduce their usage of energy and water, while RecycleTHON encourages proper waste management behavior and education. Students who are particularly interested may volunteer to be EcoCaptains to motivate their peers from within the dorm. Examples include putting posters up throughout the dorm, organizing hallway study sessions to conserve energy relating to light fixtures, and holding events to raise awareness and provide ideas of what students can do in their dorms to conserve energy/water and encourage recycling. For EcoMadness, the Office of Sustainability collaborates with Facilities to use sub-metering data that measures real-time energy and water use in each dorm, or small cluster of dorms, and report the weekly results and standings. For RecycleTHON, EcoCaptains take on the role of performing recycling audits to report for weekly results and standings. At the end of both competitions, students in the residential halls who are able to reduce their energy or water consumption or improve recycling practices the most receive certificates of recognition and a UConn Dairy Bar ice cream party. Information about the competition is distributed across campus via email, verbally, flyers, or through the UConn Daily Digest (campus daily announcements page). Additionally, the Office of Sustainability buys carbon offsets equal to GHG emissions from the amount of energy conserved throughout the competition and presents the framed offset certificate to the residents in the dorm with the largest volume reduction in energy used.


A brief description of how the student educators are selected:

EcoCaptains are all recruited as volunteers after showing interest in taking up the role. EcoCaptains may also be recommended by RAs or Residence Hall Directors. They communicate with a student Office of Sustainability intern who instructs them of their duties and provides a variety of ways to reach out to their fellow students. They may also email the student intern with any other questions to supplement their training throughout the course of the competition. EcoMadness EcoCaptains are also required to e-mail a weekly update on how the competition is going for them (what they're doing, what they plan to do, achievements they've had during the week, challenges they've had, how they've used provided marketing material, etc.). They act as campus resident liaisons for the Office of Sustainability.


A brief description of the formal training that the student educators receive to prepare them to conduct peer outreach:

RA's are informed about EcoCaptain duties to provide support if necessary. Additionally, any student that volunteers to be an Eco-Captain receives frequent e-mail communication and tips from student interns at the Office of Sustainability. Finally, EcoCaptains are directed to the EcoMadness web page on the OS's site that includes marketing and outreach material. For RecycleTHON, EcoCaptains attend a brief training session on how to properly conduct a recycling audit and learn about some of UConn’s waste management practices. They are required to e-mail a weekly audit sheet with data and self-reported scores that reveal if residents are properly diverting waste.

There is no right or wrong way to be an EcoCaptain, and whatever the EcoCaptains want to do to promote sustainability- may it be posters, information or study sessions with their floor, etc. is supported by the Office of Sustainability, given it follows school rules and policies.

At the end of the competition, EcoCaptains are invited to all the ice cream parties whether their dorm building wins or not as a way to say thank you for their hard work. At the end of the competition, they are also invited to a wrap-up meeting to discuss their approach to the competition and to suggest improvements for the next year.


A brief description of the financial and/or administrative support the institution provides to the program (e.g. annual budget and/or faculty/staff coordination):

The Office of Sustainability provides compensation for the interns in charge of running EcoMadness and RecycleTHON, buys the offset certificates, and supplies ice cream for the winning dorms. The total charge for materials is $450, and the total charge for intern compensation averages $11-12/hour.


Name of the student educators program (2nd program):
Clothing Swap

Number of students served (i.e. directly targeted) by the program (2nd program):
23,603

A brief description of the program, including examples of peer-to-peer outreach activities (2nd program):

Every year, the EcoHusky student environmental group holds intermittent clothing swaps throughout the semester. In partnership with different student organizations on campus, including UConn Collaborative Organizing and Project Fashion, these clothing swaps are advertised across campus to encourage buying used and avoiding fast-fashion. The largest clothing swap occurs during Earth Day Spring Fling, which is a campus-wide celebration of Earth Day and sustainability. All the leftover clothing is donated to a local charity as well. This program prevents items from entering the waste stream, and provides clothing to those who need them. The clothing swap also included an upcycling/repair cafe portion. Student volunteers were taught how to sew and volunteered during clothing swap to help other students repair their clothing. Other student volunteers with repair skills for other items also were present to provide repair services if needed.

Examples of peer-to-peer outreach include the EcoHusky student group informing their fellow students about the programs. This takes form in various ways including tabling, presenting information during meetings of other student groups, and advertising across campus about the program and its benefits. EcoHusky works with other environmental groups such as Students for One Health and EcoHouse to raise awareness about the programs, and to encourage more students to become involved.


A brief description of how the student educators are selected (2nd program):

Clothing Swap volunteers can be anyone who is interested in the program, whether they are a member of EcoHusky or not. The main coordinators of the program are the executive board of EcoHusky, who are also the lead educators for the program. As part of the program, EcoHusky leaders and other volunteers educate the UConn community about the benefits of reusing clothing and diverting material waste from landfills and incineration. The executive board of EcoHusky is voted on by the members of the club each year.


A brief description of the formal training that the student educators receive to prepare them to conduct peer outreach (2nd program):

The student educators educate themselves on the facts about fast fashion and importance of clothing recycling. This allows them to inform other students about where the clothing goes after they are donated (e.g., how much energy it takes to produce clothing, human health and environmental effects of the clothing industry, and more) and the benefits that come from participating in re-use programs. The EcoHusky student group also hosted a sewing workshop for volunteers to learn how to sew and repair clothing from a seamstress. This was applicable to the repair cafe portion of the Clothing Swap.


A brief description of the financial and/or administrative support the institution provides to the program (e.g. annual budget and/or faculty/staff coordination) (2nd program):

No monetary support is needed, as the clothing comes from student donations from residence halls and members and the program is purely volunteer run through the EcoHusky student group, partnering organizations, and other interested UConn students.


Name of the student educators program (3rd program):
Green Game Days

Number of students served (i.e. directly targeted) by the program (3rd program):
6,350

A brief description of the program, including examples of peer-to-peer outreach activities (3rd program):

Each Fall, UConn designates one early-season home football game as a Green Game Day. Similarly, during the spring semester, UConn also selects one men's basketball game and one women's basketball game to be Green Game Days. For these selected games, interns at the Office of Sustainability partner with the UConn Athletics department to include promotion of these events and other recycling and environmental information during pre-game and in-game marketing and public service announcements. Students from EcoHouse, a residential learning community, and EcoHusky, a student-run environmental organization, and others, volunteer to be peer educators. These volunteers welcome fans to the game, run a booth with environmentally-themed games and trivia contests for fans, provide fans with information about sustainability at UConn, and encourage them to recycle during the event. During basketball Green Game Days, volunteers “man the can” at each waste station and help fans throw away trash and recycling properly. After the game, the peer educators walk through tailgate areas (football games) and fan sections in the basketball arena, to collect any recyclables that have been left behind. Cheerleaders, pep/marching band members and the UConn mascot wear green-colored and/or Green Game Day items. PSAs shown on stadia "jumbo-trons" at various times during the game provide fans with environmental messages. At each game the fans are engaged as much as possible to educate them about recycling and other conservation-based behaviors and practices.


A brief description of how the student educators are selected (3rd program):

Students, mostly Office of Sustainability interns, and volunteers from the EcoHouse residential community and EcoHusky student group come to the game and educate UConn Husky fans, including thousands of students, about recycling and sustainable practices and behaviors. These student educators sign up by email and at student group meetings because they are passionate about the environment and regularly engaged in learning about sustainability. They are enthusiastic about the task and receive a Green Game Day t-shirt to wear at the game, and a free ticket for access to student section seating at the football game .


A brief description of the formal training that the student educators receive to prepare them to conduct peer outreach (3rd program):

Prior to the start of the game, the student educators are briefed by student interns from the Office of Sustainability on specific goals and the purpose of the event. Additionally, they are trained on how to approach fans and the best methods of promoting recycling.


A brief description of the financial and/or administrative support the institution provides to the program (e.g. annual budget and/or faculty/staff coordination) (3rd program):

Typically minimal funding is needed for the basketball GGDs - t-shirts for volunteers and the price for carbon offsets in order to promote the game as being carbon-neutral. Costs for the football GGD include bus transportation to the off-campus stadium, plus food, recycling collection bags, and t-shirts for volunteers, along with giveaways and games used for the outreach booth at FanFest. Any required funding comes from the Office of Sustainability and its philanthropic account, the Campus Sustainability Fund.


A brief description of all other student peer-to-peer sustainability outreach and education programs, including the number of students served and how student educators are selected, trained, and supported by the institution:

Typically minimal funding is needed for the basketball GGDs - t-shirts for volunteers and the price for carbon offsets in order to promote the game as being carbon-neutral. Costs for the football GGD include bus transportation to the off-campus stadium, plus food, recycling collection bags, and t-shirts for volunteers, along with giveaways and games used for the outreach booth at FanFest. Any required funding comes from the Office of Sustainability and its philanthropic account, the Campus Sustainability Fund.

A brief description of all other student peer-to-peer sustainability outreach and education programs, including the number of students served and how student educators are selected, trained, and supported by the institution:
Spring Valley Student Farm: The Spring Valley Student Farm is an on-campus farm that gives students living on the farm the opportunity to learn about sustainable community living, organic food growing methods, and the business aspects of how food is harvested, processed, and presented to the UConn dining community. Students are trained by other student farmers as well as the Farm Manager as they live on the farm. Students from the farm are peer educators about sustainable food production and living during the Farm Fresh Market, Volunteer Farm Fridays, and Spring Valley Student Farm club meetings that are open to all students. The Spring Valley Student Farm is a collaborative venture between Dining Services, Residential Life, EcoHouse Learning Community and First Year Programs, the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, Office of Sustainability, and UConn Service Learning Initiatives.

UConnPirg: UConnPIRG is a statewide, student-directed, and student-funded advocacy group in CT. They run campus campaigns with goals of fighting climate change, making college more affordable, and protecting public health. Through tabling, flyers, campaigns, events, advertising, and more, UConnPIRG has a large presence on campus and is open and advertised across campus to all students (23,978 students). 2019 campaigns included Zero Waste Campaign and 100% Renewable Campaign, where they have focused on reducing food waste, working on food insecurity among students, banning plastic bags on campus, educating about renewable energy, and other initiatives. Students are, for the most part, volunteers that are recruited at the beginning of the year. UConnPIRG does offer internships for credit as well for students who are trained to enact organization goals. Funding from a small portion of student fees goes directly to UConnPIRG and the organization works with the institution to enable campus change.

Earth Day Spring Fling: The Earth Day Spring Fling is an annual celebration of sustainability co-sponsored by UConn's Office of Sustainability, the Department of Dining Services, and the EcoHusky Student Group. Established in 2008, the festival features vendors of sustainable and hand-crafted goods, organic and local foods, environmental organizations, and student groups that join together to produce the greatest day of environmental awareness all year! Student groups on campus use this as an opportunity to share sustainability efforts that they have been working on as well as to educate peers on different aspects of sustainable living. This included encouraging students to reduce food waste, avoid single plastics, become politically engaged, and more. This event was open and advertised to all students on campus (23,978 students). These student organizations were invited to table and share information.


Total number of hours student educators are engaged in peer-to-peer sustainability outreach and education activities annually (all programs):
665

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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https://lc.uconn.edu/
https://dining.uconn.edu/spring-valley-farm/
https://today.uconn.edu/2019/04/focus-sustainability-uconns-spring-fling/
https://pirg.uconn.edu/our-mission/
https://ecohusky.uconn.edu/meet-the-interns-2/
https://ecohusky.uconn.edu/2019/09/16/green-and-blue-at-uconns-football-green-game-day/
https://ecohusky.uconn.edu/recycling-guidelines/
https://today.uconn.edu/2019/04/focus-sustainability-uconns-spring-fling/

The Number of students served at the Green Game Days was estimated by counting the number of seats in the student section at Gampel Pavilion which is 1,731. Since we do two games at gampel, with some student overlap, we multiplied this number by 1.5. Additionally, Rentschler Field has 5,000 student seats with overlap so we multiplied this number by .75 The student section at games tends to be full, and even if not completely full, there are students that have season tickets who sit in the ticketed seats as well. Tickets to athletic events are free for all UConn students, therefore all students are able to attend.

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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.