|Submission Date||Feb. 18, 2021|
EN-3: Student Life
|2.00 / 2.00||
Does the institution have an active student group focused on sustainability?:
Name and a brief description of the active student groups focused on sustainability:
Many student organizations at Virginia Tech actively focus on sustainability issues. In total, there are over 800 different student organizations on campus. The student organizations listed below are among the most active sustainability-focused groups on campus:
1. Virginia Tech American Fisheries Society Student Chapter (VTAFS): VTAFS focuses on conservation, development, and wise use of fisheries and encourages the teaching of all phases of fisheries science and the training of fisheries workers in accredited colleges and universities.
2. College of Natural Resources and Environment Student Council: Focuses on fulfilling the need for a collective, unified, and representative voice for the values and interests of the departments and the organizations within the CNRE. The comprehensive, collaborative efforts of the CNRE Student Council will be directed towards the improvement of, promotion of, and service to the student body of the CNRE.
3. Environmental Coalition: The Environmental Coalition at Virginia Tech is a student-run organization dedicated to empowering VT students who wish to advocate for a more environmentally sustainable future. In the past the EC has devoted itself to pushing the administration to create its Climate Action Commitment, a campaign to preserve Stadium Woods, and the creation of the wider Virginia Student Environmental Coalition. Currently, the EC is working on a campaign to stop the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a Natural Gas Pipeline, in Southwest Virginia.
4. Environmental Student Organization: Promoting the importance of environmental stewardship and awareness through service, education and enjoyment of the outdoors.
5. Fish & Wildlife Graduate Student Association: The mission of the Fish and Wildlife Graduate Student Association is to serve the graduate students of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation by 1) acting as an intermediary between graduate students and faculty/staff, 2) administering computing and desk facilities, and 3) orientating new students and providing them with graduate mentors.
6. Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team at Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech hosts an EcoCAR 3 team, the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT), in the Ware Lab where students are currently in the design phase of the project. The students who work on the project are primarily senior mechanical engineering and electrical engineering students.
7. Interior Designers for Education and Sustainability (IDEAS): IDEAS is a student organization dedicated to educating its members about the profession of interior design and sustainability, while enhancing their learning experience through relationships and service activities.
8. VT Roots and Shoots Chapter: Jane Goodall’s 'Roots & Shoots' program is the youth-led community action and learning program of the Jane Goodall Institute. The program builds on the legacy and vision of Dr. Jane Goodall to place the power and responsibility for creating community-based solutions to big challenges in the hands of the young people. Through the program, young people map their community to identify specific challenges their neighborhoods face. From there, they prioritize the problems, develop a plan for a solution, and take action.
9. Oxfam America Club at Virginia Tech: Oxfam America is an international relief and development organization that creates lasting solutions to poverty,hunger and social injustice. Oxfam America Club at Virginia Tech is a campus chapter that supports Oxfam initatives, raises awareness, and helps local communities in need.
10. Society of Renewable Resources: The Society of Renewable Resources is an organization that welcomes all majors to be involved in club activities such as guest speakers, competitions, projects, and community service. We are a student chapter of the Forest Products Society.
11. Students for Sustainable Practice: We act as a liaison group between our student body and the university administration - to build awareness, contribute to our collective ongoing education, and facilitate the implementation of research projects related to sustainability on our campus. Through collaboration with the students of various majors, faculty, staff, and administration, we aim to invent and establish a more sustainable future at Virginia Tech.
12. Sustainable Food Corps: We are an organization aiming to connect the Virginia Tech community to information and opportunities surrounding food, agriculture, and environmental stewardship. We manage a community garden at Historic Smithfield Plantation and connect the Virginia Tech community with the local food system.
13. The Veg Club: The Veg Club is a group of people with an interest in plant-based, local and sustainable eating and living in the Blacksburg area. We will hold various potlucks, host guest speakers, go on active adventures & be the active voice for the veg community.
14. The Campus Kitchen at Virginia Tech Student Leadership Team: The Campus Kitchen Leadership Team strives to increase campus sustainability by recovering unused food from our dining halls and turning it into nutritious meals for those in our community struggling with food insecurity.
15. Wind Turbine Team at Virginia Tech: The Wind Turbine Team at Virginia Tech works to design and build a functioning, small-scale wind turbine. The goal of this organization is to successfully compete in the Collegiate Wind Competition. This competition requires the team to build, market, and select a mock implementation location for a wind turbine. Therefore, this organization is open to all majors with a focus on Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Marketing, and International Development. There are currently four sub-teams on the project, which allows individual members to gain hands-on experience and leadership skills.
16. Wine to Water Virginia Tech Chapter: This is the campus chapter of the non profit organization Wine to Water. Their goal is to provide sustainable clean drinking water to people in developing countries through the construction of wells and filter installation.
17. The YMCA at Virginia Tech: VT's second oldest student organization which helps foster youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility in the New River Valley and beyond! The Ytoss program helps support sustainable recycling and reuse of items on campus.
18. Sustainable Dining at Virginia Tech: Sustainable Dining at Virginia Tech offers opportunities for students and community members to participate in growing food, brainstorming new ways to enhance sustainable dining initiatives at VT and to interact with your food system.
19. Environmental Innovation at VT: Takes innovative ideas to solve environmental issues and climate change through engineering; then makes it reality. Ideas will be implemented on campus and, if successful, outside of campus as well.
20. American Water Works Association and Virginia Water Environment Association: Our aim is to encourage awareness of critical issues related to the environment, water, wastewater, and public health.
21. Volunteers Around the World: Global Health at Virginia Tech: The mission of this club is to provide an improved quality of life through sustainability and engineering to poverty stricken areas. We go on volunteer abroad trips where we help with clean water solutions, sustainable farming, and building latrines.
22. Food Justice at Virginia Tech: We are a student-led organization dedicated to increasing awareness of the impact of food choices. We hope to increase responsible food choices on campus and increase the access to healthy food in the New River Valley.
23. American Water Resources Association Student Chapter at Virginia Tech: Our mission is to support local, regional, and national waterways through water education, service, management, and research.
24. Linking Lives: Creating Sustainable Social Change: This club connects students who were a part of Virginia Tech's Linking Lives study abroad programs. It is a platform for past students of the program to stay in touch with one another and share their love of international service learning, while also continuing to promote sustainable change internationally.
25. Virginia Tech for Climate Justice: Virginia Tech has a responsibility to the students and the planet to claim our role as a courageous leader for climate justice. We urge Virginia Tech to live up to its reputation as an innovator in the development of tomorrow's technology and to its motto Ut Prosim by establishing strict guidelines and timelines to reduce the university's contribution to climate catastrophe.
Database of student organizations: https://gobblerconnect.vt.edu/
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:
Kentland Farm: Kentland Farm is a 350-acre farm that is home to many student research initiatives, including College of Agriculture and Life Sciences student agricultural research plots, the Dining Services Garden, the Dairy Science Complex research facility, Kentland Experimental Aerial Systems Laboratory, and farm field days in conjunction with extension programming.
Dining Services Garden at Kentland Farm (Homefield Farm): Beginning as a quarter acre herb plot in 2009, the Dining Services Farm at Kentland Farm is now producing on over six acres each year. Under the leadership of the Sustainable Food Systems Production Director, a position jointly funded by Dining Services and the Department of Horticulture, the farm grows fruits, vegetables and herbs specifically for Virginia Tech Dining Services. Successful and sustainable production at the farm is the result of an enriching partnership with faculty throughout the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, including focuses in Horticulture, Entomology, Crop and Soils Environmental Sciences, and Civic Agriculture & Food Systems, to name a few. In addition, the Sustainable Agriculture Practicum (HORT 2834) is taught in the Fall and Spring semesters and provides hands-on experience managing a small scale sustainable farm.
Smithflied Plantation Community Garden: Smithfield Plantation, an historic plantation site which was once home to the Preston family, whose land eventually became Virginia Tech, is now home to a community garden that is maintained and managed by the Sustainable Food Corps, a student organization whose mission is to connect the Virginia Tech community with the local food system.
Hahn Horticulture Garden: The mission of the Hahn Horticulture Garden is three-fold: As part of the inclusive Virginia Tech community, the HHG provides experiential and service learning opportunities for students. It serves as a living laboratory for instructional faculty and staff to better serve the landscape, nursery, and public horticulture sectors
We strive to enrich and enlighten both youth and adults of our community and region with diverse educational programs. We apply sustainable horticultural and environmental principles in the acquisition and dynamic display of plants from the world over.
Urban Horticulture Center: The Urban Horticulture Center (UHC) is a Virginia Tech research facility devoted to developing environmentally sustainable horticulture and urban forestry technology to support the nursery, landscape, and arboriculture industries. The UHC focuses primarily on woody plant research, although some herbaceous production, biofuel feedstock, and vegetable and small fruit trials are located at the Center.
Catawba Sustainability Center: The Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center (CSC) serves as living laboratory for the research and demonstration of sustainable practices in land management, agriculture, energy production, and economics. This 377-acre historic dairy farm in Virginia’s Catawba Valley is in the early stages of renovation and is working to address the complex challenges of the future. The CSC is situated in the Upper James River Basin in the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Historically, the Catawba Sustainability Center was a dairy employing nearby residents to provide meat and dairy products to the staff and patients at the Catawba Sanitarium, now known as the Catawba Hospital. In 1988, the hospital transferred 377 acres of its land holdings to Virginia Tech. It is the mission of the Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center to be an effective resource for the research, development, teaching, and implementation of sustainable practices spanning disciplinary boundaries. The Center’s programming encourages learning, discovery, and engagement among local and international communities, industry leaders, and non-profit organizations.
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:
Ytoss: Ytoss is the YMCA at Virginia Tech’s largest sustainability initiative. Each year, volunteers collect gently-used items during student move-out and make them available for sale during student move-in on Virginia Tech’s campus. Profits support the YMCA Student Programs. Since its inception in 2015 and in the past, together with our partners and sponsors Ytoss has: Diverted more than 100 tons of gently used household items from the waste stream; Engaged over 1300 community volunteers in service to students and families; Generated over $60,000 to support student-led programs that nurture the potential of youth and teens, improve the health and well-being of individuals and families, and inspire social responsibility throughout the New River Valley.
Campus Kitchen at Virginia Tech: Campus Kitchens Project is national organization that promotes students getting involved combating food waste and hunger. Students in collegiate chapters across the nation collect surplus food from on-campus dining halls and help transform it to healthy meals that are distributed to food insecure individuals in the area. In spring 2015, Virginia Tech was one of three schools that won $5,000 grant to help start up a campus chapter. Student volunteers have devoted over 2,500 hours with the CKVT since its launch in fall 2015. We are now recovering surplus food from three Virginia Tech dining halls six days a week. 181,000+ pounds of recovered food have been delivered to our community partners, Radford-Fairlawn Daily Bread, the Giving Tree Food Pantry, Plenty! Farm and Food Bank, New River Valley Agency on Aging, Warm Hearth Village, and the YMCA after school program. We also have a focus on sustainability at Tech, and re-directing perfectly good food to our neighbors is an exciting way to reduce our food waste.
Annual Plant Sale at Hahn Horticulture Garden: Each year, the student-run Horticulture Club hosts a plant sale in the spring at the Hahn Horticulture garden, offering the students a chance to hone their sustainable business skills.
Wood Enterprise Institute: The WEI strives to be recognized and respected as a leading student-learning environment for creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The WEI experience creates value by providing “hands-on” learning that only comes through involvement in leading and managing real day-to-day business production operations. The WEI 2018 product was centered around creating wooden beer flights for local breweries.
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:
Green Request for Proposal program: The Request for Proposal for Sustainability Initiatives by Student Organizations (Green RFP Program), was established in 2010 to give students an opportunity to help make Virginia Tech a national leader in campus sustainability.
Recognized student organizations are given the opportunity each year to submit a proposal for a sustainable idea that they would like to see implemented on the university’s Blacksburg, Virginia campus.
Proposals that support the Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment, produce realizable savings, and require one-time (as opposed to ongoing) funding are given preference. The goal of the program is to have approved proposals funded and implemented within the same academic year.
Submitted proposals are reviewed by the Office of Sustainability and submitted to the Energy and Sustainability Committee for consideration. The committee prioritizes the proposals and forwards their recommendations to the Office of Budget and Financial Planning for further review, approval, and funding consideration.
The program has approved 83 student proposals totaling more than $1.2 million.
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 Office of Sustainability, campus departments, and student organizations host sustainability-related events every year both on a recurring and non-recurring basis. Events that are hosted on an annual basis are listed below, as well as a handful of non-reoccurring events that have been hosted in the past.
1. Sustainability Week: Sustainability Week was created from a “Green Partnership” between the Town of Blacksburg, Sustainable Blacksburg, and Virginia Tech. Because of the success of the first Sustainability Week in 2007, the event has become an annual tradition for the Blacksburg community. Celebrate Sustainability features prominent keynote speakers from sustainability-related fields, sustainability workshops, training sessions, movies, and community-wide events. For the past four years, Sustainability Week has hosted a "rapid fire 20x20" speaker series in which speakers are given the following format to discuss sustainable topics: show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and speakers talk along to the images.
2. Earth Week: Earth Week is a week-long event lead by the student group called the Environmental Coalition each spring semester in partnership with the Office of Sustainability. Each day has a theme, such as “Sustainable Food Monday” and “Transportation Tuesday,” and all activities are focused around the day’s theme. Earth Week features speakers from sustainability-related fields, sustainability workshops, training sessions, movies, interactive games, and campus events.
3. America Recycles Day: Virginia Tech hosted its first America Recycles Day event in 2013. It is a national educational day about recycling, where local communities talk to their peers about the importance of recycling. In its first year, the event was focused around Tailgate recycling, as well as asking people why they recycle, taking photos of the answers, and posting them to Facebook.
4. World Water Day: World Water Day is an annual UN observance day that highlights the importance of freshwater. The day is used to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. For the past two years, Office of Sustainability student interns have hosted educational tabling events on World Water Day to educate their peers on the importance of fresh water as a resource and has run water footprint calculating activities to raise awareness for water use.
5. Tree plantings: Virginia Tech has held annual tree planting events in association with our Tree Campus USA certification.
6. Gobblerfest: The Office of Sustainability participates in Gobblerfest, which occurs the Friday of the first week of each fall semester. Gobblerfest is a welcome festival for students, faculty, staff, and community members to learn more about Virginia Tech and the Town of Blacksburg community. Attendees can find ways to get involved with student organizations, volunteer opportunities, campus events, and what local businesses have to offer. The OS booth at Gobblerfest promotes Virginia Tech’s ongoing sustainability initiatives and sustainability-related student organizations on campus.
7. Advancing Diversity at Virginia Tech Conference: The Advancing Diversity at Virginia Tech Conference is an annual event sponsored by the AdvanceVT office. The conference highlights the progress that is being made to increase diversity at Virginia Tech. The conference offers a variety of workshops to help build skills and understanding around diversity topics.
8. Ytoss: Ytoss is a recycling program that was created by the YMCA at Virginia Tech in the spring of 2006. Ytoss aims to reduce waste that is discarded during Student Move-Out in order to collect gently used items from students. Items that are collected are cleaned up, stored, and sold at a sale during the fall’s Campus Move-In. The proceeds of the sale help support the YMCA at Virginia Tech’s community outreach and leadership based programs, which frequently serve under-served or at risk members of the community. The purpose of Ytoss is to keep as much as possible out of the local landfill, toting the slogan: “Ytoss it, when you can pass it on?”
9. Lights Out!/Power Down!: Lights Out!/Power Down! is a campus-wide event designed to demonstrate the university’s ability to reduce energy load consumption in the event of an electrical grid emergency condition that could result in outages. The Lights Out!/Power Down! event is part of Virginia Tech’s participation in "Interruptible Load Reliability" (ILR), a demand response program sponsored by regional electric grid operator PJM Interconnection that pays customers in exchange for a commitment to reduce electrical load in the event of an electrical grid emergency condition that could result in outages. Such commitments by large electricity consumers, such as Virginia Tech, help electrical utility companies to meet the peak electricity usage (demand, measured in kilowatts) that typically occurs during hot, humid summer afternoons and early evenings. The ability for their largest consumers to conserve significant amounts of energy allows them to continue to maintain the service needed and avoid brownouts and blackouts without having to install expensive additional capacity.
10. Global Change Center Distinguished Lecture Series: The Global Change Center’s Distinguished Lecture series brings some of the world’s leading scholars to the Blacksburg community to discuss critical environmental and societal issues in an open forum. The GCC seeks to raise awareness about climate change and other global problems that threaten the environment and society.
11. VT Engage Poster Showcase: Each year, students and student teams prepare conference-quality posters demonstrating learning gains and community impact results from their project experiences. Posters are divided into categories that highlight our core values. Awards are given to the top posters. All undergraduate and graduate students are invited to submit proposals. Past winning posters have focused on social and environmental justice projects.
1. Smart One Water Workshop and Conference: The conference addresses one of the most pressing societal needs over the next several decades on how to transform the broad spectrum of our water sector infrastructure systems to become more smart, sustainable, and resilient to the impacts of extreme events, ecosystem demand, rapid urbanization, affordability, and deteriorating aging infrastructure that threatens public and environmental health, economic prosperity, and quality of life. Conference hosted by Virginia Tech.
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:
Annual Trash Monster Installation
Movies on the Drillfield for Earth Week/Sustainability Week
Robin Boucher Art Project/Installation: "What Color is Water?" which helps educate the public about water quality. http://perspectivegallery.blogspot.com/2016/04/art-reach-what-color-is-water.html http://perspectivegallery.blogspot.com/2018/03/community-created-art-in-what-color-is.html
The Virginia Tech Moss Arts Center is host to several sustainability focused events during the year. For example, during Sustainability Week 2019 the center hosted a National Geographic Live event "Coral Kingdoms and Empires of Ice" in conjunction with the Office of Sustainability student interns. Similarly, the "Fierce Women" exhibit from Chakaia Booker and Rozeal on display in 2020 reuses rubber tires to create wildly inventive sculptures of abstract art.
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 organizations listed below are among the most active outdoor programs on Virginia Tech's campus that follow Leave No Trace Principles:
1. Venture Out: We live in one of the most beautiful areas of the country and Virginia Tech's outdoor recreation program – called Venture Out – is an excellent way to see the area, explore, and be active. We provide fun, safe, and educational outdoor services to students, faculty, staff, and community members. We specialize in exciting outdoor adventures, quality rental gear at unbeatable rates, and valuable resources to help you plan your own perfect adventure. Venture Out offers extensive outdoor resources on local, regional, and national recreation opportunities. We have a variety of brochures and books on hiking, backpacking, and camping in the New River Valley including information on all of the Virginia State Parks and National Forests.
2. Virginia Tech Outdoor Club: The Outdoor Club at Virginia Tech (OCVT) is a diverse group of outdoor enthusiasts comprised of undergraduate, and graduate students and other members of the Blacksburg community. The goal of the club is to get our members outside and active both physically and socially. OCVT strives to spread knowledge of the local area, to teach safe and responsible outdoor practices, to volunteer time to keep our section of the Appalachian Trail maintained and most importantly to have fun while doing it.
3. VPI Cave Club, Student Grotto of the National Speleological Society: The purpose of this club shall be to promote interest in and to advance the science of speleology; to promote conservation of caves and safety in their exploration; and to encourage fellowship among those interested in caving.
4. Virginia Tech Hiking Club: The Hiking Club at VT goes on 1-3 hikes per month around the Blacksburg area. The hikes only take place on the weekends. We meet once a week to discuss when and where our next trip will be. We encourage everyone to bring ideas for our next trip!
5. Whitewater Club at Virgnia Tech: The purpose of this club is to teach beginner kayaking, coordinate kayak and whitewater rafting trips, and facilitate a network of paddlers in the Blacksburg area.
6. Snow Club at Virginia Tech: The Snow Club at VT (VT SNOW) is passionate about snowboarding/skiing and the culture surrounding it. We do multiple trips to Snowshoe, WV during the spring semester and have an optional "Big Trip" on Winter Break. In addition to our multiple winter trips, we hold other social events in the Blacksburg area throughout the entire school year. Lastly, we have a freestyle team - if you are interested in taking your riding to the next level.
7. Mountain Bike Club at VT: The Mountain Bike Club of Virginia Tech (VT MTB) is a community of students who love all things MTB. Join us for weekly group rides, trail work days, and meet ups! The club is open to all students at Virginia Tech.
8. Rock Climbing Club at Virginia Tech: The climbing club at Virginia Tech is a student organization dedicated to helping people of all skill levels experience the joy of climbing. The club provides opportunities to meet other climbers, slide shows to see what other people are climbing, clinics to demonstrate some of the skills climbers need, and organizes trips to get out on the rock. Club meetings are open to anyone who would like to come.
9. Virginia Tech Cycling Club: The Virginia Tech Cycling Team is open to all bicyclists, regardless of age, gender, discipline or ability. Both men and women are encouraged to join as a means of improving their cycling skills, overall fitness, enjoyment of the outdoors, and to meet other cyclists. The clubs supports a road cycling team, mountain bike cycling team, and cyclocross cycling team in Atlantic Collegiate Cycling Conference races as well as designated out-of-conference races and national competitions.
10. SEEDS: SEEDS is Blacksburg's nature center, who partners with students on a variety of projects and field studies.
Database of outdoor clubs: https://gobblerconnect.vt.edu/
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:
The Common Book Project at Virginia Tech was established in 1998 as a means of enriching the first-year experience and creating a sense of community for undergraduate students. Since the first full-scale distribution in 2000, all incoming first year students have been given a book to engage them through the lens of shared reading and to provoke conversation among students and their professors.
'The Other Wes Moore' by Wes Moore common book 2017-2018: Wes Moore is a combat veteran, a White House Fellow, and a Rhodes Scholar. His book explores the lives of two individuals with the same name who grew up in similar neighborhoods in Baltimore. The two Wes Moores' lives diverge dramatically, one taking a path that ends in incarceration and the other a path that leads to a Rhodes Scholarship. The book shares an alternating narrative that describes pivotal experiences in the young lives and two men who find each other and themselves through reflection on past choices.
'The Heart and the Fist' by Eric Greitens common book 2015-16 and 2016-17: The New York Times best seller details Greiten’s life of service, through academics as a Rhodes and Truman Scholar as well as roles with humanitarian organizations and service as a United States Navy SEAL. Following his military service, Greitens founded The Mission Continues, a national nonprofit organization that challenges veterans to serve in communities across the U.S.
'Little Princes' by Conor Grennan common book 2013 - 2015: The book follows Conor on an incredible journey to reunite "the Lost Children" in Nepal with their families, after being separated by war. Conor never intended to stay in Nepal--volunteering at a orphanage there was supposed to be just the first leg of his trip around the world. At first, Nepal shows him that his lifestyle in the US is one of gross over-consumption. He sees people living--happily--on much less than he has ever had. And these themes continue throughout the book. However, the book mostly focuses on social justice issues, and how a lack of resources can lead families to make terribly hard decisions about their families. Small villages in the Himalayas have been suffering from drought for years, and feeding their families seems impossible at times. So impossible that many families sell their children to people claiming to be able to provide food and school to the kids, but who often use them as a cover for more insidious work. Conor's work in Nepal seeks to undo these injustices, and bring the luckiest of the children back to their families. But fostering a healthy society, a healthier environment is more possible in these and other areas.
First Year Experience: Recognizing the importance of a successful beginning in college, Virginia Tech made a commitment in 2009 to improve the first-year experiences for all students in their first year at Virginia Tech. The initiative emerged from the response to the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) component of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools-Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC) Reaffirmation of Accreditation process. Originally branded as Pathways to Success, now known broadly as First Year Experiences, the courses are designed to engage students in curricular and co-curricular learning opportunities and intellectual and practical skills that are foundational to development into lifelong learners. To do so, Virginia Tech’s First Year Experience courses center on three learning outcomes that are customized to the discipline(s) represented in the course.
College of Natural Resources and Environment First Year Experience: NR 1234, First Year Experience in Natural Resources and Environment, for freshmen and NR 2984, CNRE Transfer Student Seminar, provide students with the opportunity to explore a variety of career pathways from the diverse programs in the college while adjusting to and benefiting from campus life. With a focus on problem-solving related to natural resources and environmental issues, students engage in the work of the disciplines of the college. The courses help students develop their sense of identity and relate to the college as their home as well as encouraging involvement in undergraduate research, internships, study-abroad, and other relevant programs.
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:
1. The Office of Sustainability's Student Internship Program hosts a variety of events each year to promote sustainable living skills among the student population at Virginia Tech. Examples include: greening your dorm room, green living guides distributed to each freshmen dorm, Resident Adviser sustainable poster campaigns, and tabling demonstrations on sustainable living on campus.
2. lumenHAUS and FutureHAUS: Virginia Tech’s award-winning solar homes still are contributing to teaching, research, and the art and science of architecture. With its innovative integration of design and technology, the Virginia Tech LumenHAUS and FutureHAUS shows that one can live with comfort and quality in a small space.
3. The Orion Living Learning Community is open to first-year students majoring in the Biological and Life Sciences, and is dedicated to helping students in the following ways: To enable students to be a part of a small, supportive and diverse community of peers with shared interests in the sciences; To enable students to build on one another’s academic strengths in order to succeed in their first-year experience; To expose students to opportunities in the science field and in their major; To better enable students to interact with faculty and professionals.
Does the institution offer sustainability-focused student employment opportunities?:
A brief description of the sustainability-focused student employment opportunities offered by the institution:
1. Internship with the Sustainability Institute (paid): Our cohort-based professional development boot camp transitions undergraduate students into workplace-ready professionals who know how to problem solve with a “sustainability lens” and communicate effectively. Just like sustainability, the institute is interdisciplinary. Participation in the institute is available to all Virginia Tech students, regardless of area of study, home department, or college. Top performing students from each boot camp training will be selected to work in paid, interdisciplinary project teams to take on real projects with partner organizations during the fall and spring semesters. Projects will be highly structured with clear expectations and milestones for completion.
2. Office of Sustainability Internship Program (unpaid): 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: Cultivate the skills needed by young sustainability professionals and advance Virginia Tech’s sustainability goals through creative engagement.
3. Graduate Assistantship Position with Office of Sustainability (paid/tuition waiver): The GA position within the Office of Sustainability assists with a variety of projects, including advising a team of the undergraduate internship program, assisting in metric tracking across campus, assisting in all office communications, and various project management activities.
4. Green Tailgate Recycling Team and Green Graduates Coordinator (paid): The Office of Sustainability hires a student to manage both of these programs during the academic year. The position supports sustainability outreach during athletic events as the coordinator is in charge of recruiting, training,and directing student volunteers to help with recycling at home football games. The coordinator and student volunteers get to interact with tailgaters and teach them how to properly recycle. The coordinator also gains experience leveraging social media to positively influence sustainable lifestyle changes in graduates through the Green Graduates program.
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):
Green Graduates of Virginia Tech: The Green Graduates of Virginia Tech program asks graduating students to take a personal sustainability pledge that encourages them to think about the environmental impact of their jobs, travel, and other adventures after leaving Virginia Tech. The pledge gives students an opportunity to reflect on the values and lessons they gained during their time on campus and to think about which of those lessons and values they will take with them as they depart. By pledging, students are committing to foster sustainable behaviors both in their own lives and in the lives of their friends, family, and coworkers. To honor the students who wish to take such a pledge, the Office of Sustainability awards all pledge signers with a free green cord to wear at graduation.
A brief description of other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives that do not fall into one of the above categories:
Sustainability Institute: The Sustainability Institute engages today’s industry leaders to prepare the leaders of tomorrow.
Our cohort-based professional development boot camp transitions undergraduate students into workplace-ready professionals who know how to problem solve with a “sustainability lens” and communicate effectively. Just like sustainability, the institute is interdisciplinary. Participation in the institute is available to all Virginia Tech students, regardless of area of study, home department, or college.
Corporate social responsibility and sustainability programs are becoming the new business as usual. To be prepared for this shift in skill-set demand, graduates need to know how these programs function, ways that triple-bottom-line operations will impact their daily decisions, effective strategies for engaging future colleagues, and the difference between linear and circular economic models.
Today’s undergraduate students are tomorrow’s entry-level hires. Our goal is to connect the classroom to the workplace in a way that has never been done before. We are gathering feedback from sustainability professionals across the country and, with our team of on-campus faculty experts, designing workshops and hands-on projects based on those needs.
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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