Mary McLoughlin ’15 and Cameron Benoit ’16 are spending the summer working as sustainability interns for the Finger Lakes Institute. Each is focusing on a different area of sustainability at the Colleges, from preparing the Eco Representatives to change student habits for a lifetime to working to curb greenhouse gases institutionally. Their internships are funded by the Office of Sustainability and they are working under the supervision of HWS Sustainability Manager Adam Maurer.
“Like so many initiatives on campus, it’s crucial to get students involved at a deep level. Sustainability is important to a lot of students on campus but full-time internships provide the opportunity to work on specific campus sustainability initiatives with sustainability experts one-on-one, offering an immersive experience,” says Maurer.
McLoughlin ’15, an architectural studies major, is planning HWS Eco Representative training as an Eco Rep coordinator. She is also planning events for the Eco Reps to take part in during the fall semester, which will be aimed at spreading sustainability awareness to students and faculty at HWS.
One such event is the HWS “Food Day,” which draws together different types of environmental clubs on campus for the “Real Food Challenge.” Eco Reps have a big part in working with the farmers market and discussion panel that goes into the event, which educates all those involved on the importance of supporting local, healthy foods to benefit not only the community but the environment as well.
McLoughlin says, another big part of Eco Rep involvement on campus is Green Room Certification. During this process of certifying a building to be “green,” more is done than simply switching to energy-saving light bulbs and placing “turn me off” stickers by the light-switches. McLoughlin points out she and her team of Eco Reps teach students ways to be environmentally aware for life, especially after HWS, which is much more effective than “doing it for them temporarily” with light bulbs and stickers.
She notes her big goal is changing individuals’ bad habits, which will help them further down the line and truly impact the environment in a positive way.
Citing such habits as leaving the water on while brushing your teeth, taking 30-minute showers, and leaving inefficient light bulbs on, McLoughlin says, “Hopefully changing these habits we can reduce our campus energy use overall, and get that much closer to helping the world.”
She expresses her excitement that 41 students from a variety of disciplines already have applied to be Eco Reps.
“I’m trying to get more disciplines and majors involved in campus sustainability, and more people to realize that caring for our environment is not exclusive to environmental studies majors. As Eco Rep coordinator, I’m also trying to get our Eco Reps trained using more hands-on practices and experiences that engage and educate them in how to teach others out there at the site of what’s being talked about-be it an energy-efficient house, or watershed drain site.”
Meanwhile, economics and environmental studies major Benoit is working on a Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report. The report details the greenhouse gases emitted by HWS during the fiscal year of 2013, based on energy usage. He is also helping with the new campus farm.
Benoit planted and is caring for roughly 120 tomato plants at the farm that will be used during Pasta Nights at Chaplain Lesley Adams’ home in the fall. He has also played a part in organizing the Student Farm Committee of Hobart and William Smith.
“Getting involved with the farm is an opportunity for students and faculty from a plethora of backgrounds to collaborate in an effort to support the community around them in innovative ways,” says Benoit.
Maurer is enthused with his interns’ work so far, and looking forward to the upcoming semester.
“Summer internships allow students to experience HWS, Geneva, and the Finger Lakes in a different way. With less students and studying to do, students can get off campus, attend local events, and hopefully better understand this place and the people that make it special,” says Maurer. “Understanding of place is an important aspect of sustainability because so much of what is or isn’t sustainable depends on where you are on the globe.”