Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 71.94
Liaison Dennis Cochrane
Submission Date Dec. 19, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Virginia Tech
EN-1: Student Educators Program

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Karlee Siepierski
Campus Sustainability Planner
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Number of students enrolled for credit (headcount):
34,887

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):
34,887

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

Name of the student educators program:
Student Sustainability Internship Program

Number of students served (i.e. directly targeted) by the program (headcount):
34,887

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

The Office of Sustainability Internship Program blends real-world projects with practical skills-based professional development courses to prepare students for a career in the sustainability field.

By encouraging creativity, ownership, and collaboration, students will learn what it is like to enter a constantly changing world and work in a constantly changing field.
The primary goals of the program are to:

1. Cultivate the skills needed by young sustainability professionals.
2. Advance Virginia Tech’s sustainability goals through creative engagement.
3. Encourage peer-to-peer learning through communications, campaigns, events, and projects.

The Office of Sustainability is committed to providing a valuable experience by offering students the opportunity for rapid personal and professional growth. The projects the students take on, paired with professional development classes and other trainings, will allow students to both sharpen and expand their environmental professional skill sets.

The Student Sustainability Internship Program consists of 20 student interns serving on 4 different teams. Teams include:

1. Energy Outreach Team: The goal of the energy team is to change behaviors of students so that they use (and waste) less energy in their everyday lives. They achieve this by planning a series of events and communication campaigns to engage students and educate them about better practices. In addition to working with Office of Sustainability staff and other intern teams, students work with the Students for Sustainable Practice group, as well as consult with Ruben Avagyan, the campus energy manager. Key behaviors to focus on include: Turning lights off when leaving rooms (classrooms, dorm rooms, houses, offices, etc.); Unplugging electronics that are not in use; Washing full loads of laundry on cold, and air drying clothes; Closing fume hoods in laboratories; Participating in activities that do not use electricity.

2. Recycling Outreach Team: The goal of the recycling team is to change behaviors of students so that they reduce the waste generated on a day-to-day basis. The focus is to teach the student body about practical applications of the phrase “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. They achieve this by planning a series of events and campaigns that are intended to educate and engage students in the act of recycling, reusing, or reducing waste. Key behaviors to focus on include: Educating students on single stream recycling dining halls and academic buildings; Ordering food “for here” in dining halls; Using reusable water bottles, coffee cups, cutlery, and to-go containers; Using reusable shopping bags both on and off campus.

3. Resident Outreach Team: The resident team is responsible for coordinating events and information campaigns aimed at changing the personal behaviors of students living on campus in residence halls and Oak Lane. Students living on campus have less control over their living situations—they cannot change their lights or turn down the thermostat. They have to eat on campus, rather than go shopping for their own meals. This group provides students on campus information on ways to reduce their environmental impact on the things they have control over. In addition to working with Office of Sustainability staff and other intern teams, the Resident Outreach Team works with Housing and Residence Life staff and the residential advisers. Key behaviors to focus on include: Taking recycling down to outdoor dumpsters; Donating unwanted furniture and other items to Ytoss; Utilizing thrift stores and upcycling items; Oak Lane sustainability initiatives (working with Greek life).

4. Communications Team: The communications team is responsible for supporting the energy, recycling, and resident teams in their design, social media, and marketing needs. The main goal of the Communications Team is to elevate the internship program’s work to all university and broader community audiences, and to promote student events on campus. The communications team also coordinates with sustainability student groups from other colleges and universities to share ideas and collaborate on events.

Programs include:
Turn Down for Watt Energy Competition
Green Off-Campus Housing Survey & Certification
Clothing and Thrift Swaps
Ytoss support and programming
HallowGreen Week
OZZI Reusable To-Go Campaigns
Waste Audits & food waste audits
Earth Week programming
Sustainability Week programming


A brief description of how the student educators are selected:

The internship is an academic-year cohort-based program. To be eligible, students must:
Be an undergraduate student in good academic standing.
Be able to participate for both the fall and spring semester.
Be able to work seven to ten hours per week on internship related activities, including weekly meetings and workshops.

This is not a paid position and students will not receive academic credit; however, students will be able to build their resume with skills and experiences. The Office of Sustainability team members can also offer letters of recommendation and references for job, internship, or graduate school applications for all interns who successfully complete the program.

Students fill out an online application including their resume, cover letter, and a series of short essay questions outlining their interest, qualifications, and abilities. Students are also asked to outline the most pressing sustainability issues on campus, and steps that can be taken to resolve those issues.

In-person interviews take place each spring. We seek the following qualities in candidates:
Have a passion for sustainability.
Have some previous knowledge of environmental issues.
Are creative, innovative, and not shy about voicing new ideas.
Have strong written and verbal communication skills.
Are outgoing and personable.
Work well in a team environment.
Are reliable and meet deadlines.
Are energetic and excited about taking on new challenges.
Conduct themselves in a professional manner.
Are not afraid to have fun while working hard.

In the 2016-17 academic year, we received 50 applications and had 20 available positions.


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

Student interns attend a 1-day orientation training session in the fall and spring semesters that teach them the basics of sustainability, behavior change, behavior barriers, and goal-setting. They also focus on team building activities and strategies to manage conflict. The students then receive in-depth training on event planning and professional development.

At the beginning of the academic year, each team meets with appropriate university representatives that they will partner with throughout the year. For example, the energy team meets with the Campus Energy Manager, and the recycling and resident teams meet with the Dining & Housing Sustainability Coordinator.

The interns also participate in a workshop each semester hosted by Career & Professional Development, focused on refining their networking and public speaking skills, along with employability coaching. This workshop allows our students to become better ambassadors of our office, and to also allow their own personal and professional growth.


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):

Any money that goes into the Sustainability Internship program comes from the Office of Sustainability operating budget. Each expenditure is considered on a case-by-case basis.

The students have a staff advisor (Campus Sustainability Planner), with whom they meet once per week. Additionally, they have access to advice from all staff members at the Office of Sustainability. Some portion of the Office of Sustainability budget goes towards supporting intern activities--to buy things like food, give-aways, and materials for bulletin boards.


Name of the student educators program (2nd program):
Office of Sustainability Game Day Green Team

Number of students served (i.e. directly targeted) by the program (2nd program):
10,000

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

Football games bring thousands of fans onto campus, which means that tons of additional waste is created, especially during tailgates. As part of Virginia Tech’s commitment to sustainability, the Office of Sustainability's student Game Day Green Team game day recycling initiative encourages tailgaters to recycle their bottles and cans. The Game Day Green Team is led and managed by the Recycling Intern Team, where they manage supplies, recruit volunteers, work with the Facilities department on waste collection, and execute the program on each home game day. The volunteers then complete the following:
- Gather at the YMCA at Virginia Tech's Lancaster House and spend one to two hours volunteering, which will end about a half an hour before game time
- Split into groups of five to ten people and assigned a parking lot
- Walk around the assigned lot and hand out blue recycling bags to tailgaters
- Educate tailgates on what to recycle and what to throw away and answer any questions tailgaters may have about recycling
- Receive a Game Day Green Team t-shirt to wear and keep
(Volunteering at every game is not required. Individuals can pick which game(s) they would like to volunteer for during sign up)

Volunteers follow this script when talking to tailgaters:
It is now easier than ever to recycle as a tailgater! There are recycling flags posted in the Coliseum, Stadium, Track/Field House, Chicken Hill, and Litton Reeves parking lots where you can obtain additional free blue recycling bags. Plastic bottles, glass bottles, aluminum cans, plastic cups (such as Solo cups), and clean cardboard can all be recycled. Filled recycling bags should be left at a recycling flag. Paper plates, napkins, styrofoam, and food waste are not recyclable and should not be included in the bag.


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

The recycling team reaches out to organizations on campus who are focused on sustainability and community outreach to recruit volunteers to serve on the Game Day Green Team.
Organizations include:
Environmental Coalition


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

The recycling team is trained by Office of Sustainability staff and Facilities staff. Volunteers are trained by a recycling team member at the beginning of their shift to talk to their peers about tailgate 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) (2nd program):

The Game Day Green Team is supported financially by the Office of Sustainability operating budget. The recycling intern team receives administrative support from Office of Sustainability staff and Facilities staff. Volunteers do not receive any compensation.


Name of the student educators program (3rd program):
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Number of students served (i.e. directly targeted) by the program (3rd program):
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A brief description of the program, including examples of peer-to-peer outreach activities (3rd program):
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A brief description of how the student educators are selected (3rd program):
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A brief description of the formal training that the student educators receive to prepare them to conduct peer outreach (3rd program):
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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):
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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:
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Total number of hours student educators are engaged in peer-to-peer sustainability outreach and education activities annually (all programs):
7,400

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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2016-17 Calculations:
20 Student interns x 10 hours per week x 32 weeks per school year = 6,400
100 tailgate volunteers x 2 hours per shift x 5 home games = 1,000
TOTAL = 7,400

https://www.facilities.vt.edu/sustainability/sustainability-programs/game-day-green-team.html

https://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2016/11/adm-st-greentailgating.html

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.