How to get involved with sustainability efforts to make Boise State a green campus

Sofie Eriksen | The Arbiter

Climate change remains a pressing concern. The Turkey-Syria earthquakes act as a recent reminder of the harsh realities of climate change.

At a local level, members of the Boise State University community can take steps to reduce our impact on the environment and promote sustainability.

Campus Sustainability provides different levels of involvement for students who wish to combat environmental issues and create positive change in the local community. Whether you desire to gain knowledge, volunteer or pursue a career in sustainability, the department offers opportunities for everyone.

Arie Weidemaier, the manager of Campus Sustainability, describes the department as a hub and a place for people to connect.

The department exists to build empowered communities and facilitate education and engagement with the overall mission of creating a sustainable university.

Passionate students such as Sofia Bentivengo, a junior majoring in environmental studies, already engage in sustainability initiatives to make Boise a greener city. 

On Presidents’ Day, Bentivengo volunteered for “Recycle on the Mountain,” an event in collaboration with Campus Sustainability and Dirk Anderson, the environmental education and stewardship coordinator at Bogus Basin.

The event aimed to educate skiers and snowboarders about recycling at Bogus Basin. Visitors could test their knowledge about sustainability and win prizes. 

The event successfully resulted in more than 100 interactions between the volunteers and curious children and adults. 

[Photo from the “Recycle on the Mountain” event at Bogus Basin, hosted by Campus Sustainability.]
Sofie Eriksen | The Arbiter

“I feel like especially the kids and younger people that came up learned a lot about recycling which is cool,” Bentivengo said.

Volunteer options like this are open to everyone and require no commitment other than participation in the particular event. 

The next opportunity is “Race to Robie Creek Recycling” on April 15. “Race to Robie Creek” is a half marathon taking place in Boise and students will get the chance to join the Campus Sustainability team for a day to educate people about recycling, similar to the efforts last month at Bogus Basin. 

Bentivengo recently joined Campus Sustainability as the event coordinator. 

“I really wanted an on-campus job and I am passionate about sustainability and environmentalism,” Bentivengo said. “I wanted to get involved with something in the community I live in and I have felt so connected lately.”

Being a member of the student staff is a way to combine involvement with work. Positions often require 15-20 hours a week.

“Especially for the student staff, we can work on developing certain skills that you want to develop for building your resume,” Weidemaier said.

Eco-Rep is the newest program offered by Campus Sustainability. It is an opportunity for students seeking to get involved on a lower level than joining the student staff.

COVID-19 put a hold on the program, which just got back up and running last semester. The program now wishes to increase its presence as well as attract more applicants.

Eco-Reps discuss ideas and receive input from guest speakers at biweekly meetings which correspond to about 35 hours the entire semester.

The program aims to connect undergraduate students wanting to get more involved with the community and inform other students about what they feel passionate about.

Each Eco-Rep gets a $200 scholarship, as well as the possibility to get internship credits. Furthermore, they gain experience in planning, coordinating and leadership in sustainability.

It comes with a lot of freedom to shape your own experience and learning process.

Eco-Rep Coordinador Kylie Stear handles the coordination of guest speakers, tabling events as well as being a point of contact for the Eco-Reps getting them more involved with the community.

“We’re not teaching courses, you know, we’re not certified professionals. We’re just getting our feet wet in community outreach,” Stear said.

During the semester, Eco-Reps will work together on brainstorming ideas and turning them into small tablings on different topics of their interest. 

“Last semester, we had some students do a tabling bid on textile waste, and some brands that aren’t so sustainable and what you can do to kind of upcycle your clothing, things like that, where you can shop to shop secondhand,” Stear said. 

This year’s Earth Week in April will highlight “Solutions” as the main theme.

“We really, really feel like there is a lot of doom and gloom around sustainability and environmental talk. We want to have solutions and more positive talks,” Weidemaier said. 

The events include several initiatives and guest speakers from students, doctors and workshops.

“Last year we got a mayor to come in and certify us as a certified Tree Campus and had a really great turnout with like 120 people attending the first event,” Weidemaier said. 

Campus Sustainability makes it easy to get involved and meets students wherever they find themselves in their journey with sustainability. 
Look out for posts on @sustainableboisestate on Instagram or their website to get the latest news and opportunities.

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