Congratulations to all the winners of the UK Sustainability Challenge Grants – and in particular we offer up a big cheer for those project leaders who are focusing on service-learning and on college/career readiness programming in their initiatives.
- Building an Inclusive Community by Empowering Youth through Sustainability Education – Team members: Roger Brown (Agricultural Economics); Kristina Ricketts (Community and Leadership Development); Thaiieasha Beard (Agricultural Biotechnology); Xavia Gantz (Retail Management and Tourism); Bryan Haines (Community and Leadership Development). Awarded $27,455 to build a Youth Empowerment Through Sustainability Education Program centered in the Smithtown neighborhood at The Plantory on West Sixth Street in Lexington. The program will have three main components: sustainability and sustainable agricultural education, applied community engagement through community awareness and community service, and professional development and personal succession planning of each participant. The goal is to “increase the ecological integrity of the youth through teaching about the importance of sustainability and how to practice it regularly in their daily lives through the sustainability education component.” The team intends for the program to contribute to social equity in this geographic area by “engaging youth in community awareness and service opportunities that teach them the importance of community development.”
- Creating Tree Ambassadors – Team Members: Mary Arthur (Forestry); Lynne Rieske-Kinney (Entomology); Nic Williamson (Forestry); Amanda Williams (Forestry); Ellen Crocker (Forest Health Restoration and Education Center); Jerry Hart (UK Physical Plant Grounds Department). Awarded $32,636 to pilot a community-based program of Tree Ambassadors to “enhance awareness, appreciation, and ultimately the care, of our urban trees.” K-12 students, UK students and community members will be documenting tree status, health, and planting/site conditions. (See more about the Urban Forest Initiative on the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment website).
- Establishing Native Forest on Surface Mines – Team Members: Chris Barton (Forestry and UK Appalachian Center); Kenton Sena (Forestry); Michael French (Green Forests Work). Awarded $18,175 to establish shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata), a declining species of southern pine, on a portion of the surface mined tract of Robinson Forest in eastern Kentucky. This project will help restore habitat for bird, bat, and invertebrate species of concern that rely on shortleaf pine. Green Forests Work will involve UK students and “students from local communities in volunteering at tree planting events, providing important outreach opportunities and a sense of accomplishment, ownership, and ecological responsibility.”
- From SEE(E)D to (S)STEM – Team Members: Eduardo Santillian-Jimenez (UK CAER); Rebekah Radtke (Interiors); Margaret Mohr-Schoeder, (STEM Education). Awarded $25,184 to connect students, faculty and staff in UK science, engineering, entrepreneurship, education & design – SEE(E)D – to promote sustainability, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – (S)STEM – to underserved K-12 students using a game to teach K-12 students about complex and often misunderstood energy and sustainability issues. UK student entrepreneurs will develop a business plan so that profits from the game are reinvested in the development of additional didactic tools. These didactic tools will be used by minority engineering students working with the target K-12 institutions.
- Point of Departure – Team Members: Martin Summers (Architecture); Michael Wilson (UK CAER); Regina Hannemann (Electrical Engineering); Owen Duross (Architecture); Thompson Burry (Architecture). Awarded $49,991 to design and help construct critically placed high-performance transit shelters—part of an existing UK Sustainable Campus Exemplar Project – and to “engage students in a dialogue about sustainability, alternate transportation, the value of design, and the possibilities of collaborative research at UK.”
- Solar Powered Tractor – Team Members: Joseph Dvorak (Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering); Mark Williams (Horticulture); Don Colliver (Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering). Awarded $25,000 to support the UK Horticulture Research Farm’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program using only solar power for field machine work. Students (BAE/EE 599) will design the PV solar system. Student employees and graduate students in the BAE department will switch a small 20-horsepower diesel-electric hybrid tractor to all electric and install the charging system. Student apprentices (SAG397 Apprenticeship in Sustainable Agriculture) and employees on the CSA will use the tractor to produce crops.
- The Arboretum Children’s Garden Patio and Wet Meadow Demonstration Area – Team members: Christopher Sass (Landscape Architecture); Molly Davis (The Arboretum); Richard Durham (Extension Horticulture); Mark Williams (Horticulture); George Riddle (UK Physical Plant Division Grounds Department); Jesse Dahl (The Arboretum); Emma Trester-Wilson (The Arboretum); Ned Crankshaw (Landscape Architecture); Reginald Souleyrette (Civil Engineering). Awarded $21,000 to design and construct a wet meadow and permeable ADA accessible patio entrance for the newly constructed bathroom facilities near the KY Children’s Garden, including educational signage. The work will include service-learning projects by students in the Landscape Architecture program, the UK Student Chapter American Society of Landscape Architects, the Horticulture Club, and Arboretum volunteers with guidance from faculty and Arboretum staff.
The Challenge Grant Program is a collaborative effort of the President’s Sustainability Advisory Committee, The Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment, and the Office of Sustainability with funding from the Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, the Vice President for Research and the UK Student Sustainability Council. The purpose of the program is to “engage multidisciplinary teams from the University community in the creation and implementation of ideas that will promote sustainability by simultaneously advancing economic vitality, ecological integrity and social equity, now and into the future.”
See the project abstracts at the UK Office of Sustainability website.