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Successful Sustainability Leadership Event at Morris

Posted by Allyce Amidon '12, Falcon Heights, Center for Small Towns on Friday, Oct. 28, 2011

About 60 people from throughout the University of Minnesota system met at the Morris campus in September 2011 to share stories of sustainability success and to identify opportunities for collaboration.

The Sustainability Leadership Event started with “lightning talks.” Students told five-minute stories about what kinds of sustainable activities were going on in their lives and on their campuses. Students were also videotaped talking about why sustainability was important to them personally and how their experiences with sustainability in college were preparing them for the “real world.” The event ended with several World Café conversations. Students played a leadership role as table hosts, educating people on different sustainability topics.

Morris was well represented throughout the Sustainability Leadership Event. Heidi Eger ’13 discussed renewable energy and conservation. Naomi Wente ’13 and Alissa Jacobson ’13 presented on sustainable and healthy food in our community. And Joseph Hartmann ’12 and Kayla Pridmore ’12 talked about student engagement.

Though perhaps not a well-known fact, the University of Minnesota has a Systemwide Sustainability Committee. The committee, co-chaired by Morris Chancellor Jacquie Johnson and University of Minnesota Vice President Kathleen O’Brien, meets frequently to discuss sustainability related progress and facilitate systemwide action. The University has identified sustainability goals that they are working towards, and this leadership event was a part of that larger plan.

The Student Engagement Committee, part of the larger Systemwide Sustainability Committee, organized the leadership event. The committee met throughout the summer of 2011 to plan the event, with student leadership as a main focus.

Linda Kingery, who serves as co-chair of the Student Engagement Committee and also as director of the Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, shares that “the talent, energy, and commitment of these students is inspiring. They are amazing.”

“The students were really the stars of this,” says Morris Sustainability Coordinator Troy Goodnough, who co-chairs the Student Engagement Committee. Thanks go to the Regional Partnerships for providing breakfast and to the University for hosting this gathering.

The Regional Partnerships were created by the Minnesota Legislature in 1997 to provide funding for the University to work with citizens of the state in the spirit of partnership to advance sustainability. This model creates place-based solutions with community leadership and honors a variety of ways of knowing to inform research, education, and outreach.