By Kara Blomquist
Glorifying God by preserving his earth — that’s the idea behind the Sustainability Student Advisory Board.
The board is a group of students who provide feedback to the university through the sustainability coordinator and share their ideas about sustainability at Baylor in an effort to improve green efforts on campus, said Smith Getterman, sustainability coordinator.
Getterman shares the students’ opinions with the University Sustainability Committee, which works to achieve university-wide sustainability goals.
“It’s great that Baylor has a group of students that are passionate about caring for God’s creation,” Getterman, said. “Where else in the world could you have a group of students so focused on the mission of bringing Christ into the world but in such a new and different way?”
The board was created in January 2011. Getterman said he formed the board to get more student involvement in the Office of Sustainability.
He said he gathered students interested in going green and established the board. Students can request an application to become a part of the board by emailing Getterman at Smith_Getterman@baylor.edu.
The board is made up of students from all grade levels and backgrounds.
The unifying factor is the students’ passion for sustainability, Getterman said.
The student group is unique in that the members directly affect the operations of the university, he said.
“Their feedback really helps kind of prioritize what my office and what the university works on sustainability-wise,” Getterman said.
While the idea of serving God motivates the organization, the group discusses earthly matters in their monthly meetings, said Matthew Reid, Rosenberg junior and board member.
“Every meeting is like a brainstorming session,” Reid said.
The students discuss their ideas for improving current sustainability efforts and any new ideas they have.
Sometimes other Baylor departments and organizations present their green initiatives to the board.
At one meeting this year, Baylor Dining Services presented its sustainability initiatives to the board.
“Just being able to sit down with a group of students that are passionate about something, a diverse group of students, and hear them kind of give direct feedback was a huge thing for Baylor Dining Services,” Getterman said. “It really kind of helped them understand they were on the right path with the things that they were doing.”
Fort Worth sophomore Claire Allen, a board member, said she sees the advisory board as a connector between the administration and the students.
“The sustainability board is like a funnel that the information from everything that’s happening in the upper workings of our university kind of get trickled down to us,” she said. The board is able to provide feedback to those behind the sustainability initiatives and increase student awareness of green programs, she said.
The board is planning for Creation Week, April 22-26. The group will use the week to raise awareness about sustainability on campus and celebrate God’s earth.
Getterman said Creation Week raises awareness about sustainability issues by bringing together different organizations and groups that have a connection to green issues from Baylor and Waco. This shows students ways to get involved, he said.
The board is made up of a diverse group of students, Getterman said. They are not all environmental science majors.
“I’m not in an environmental science class,” Allen said. “I’ll never take one, but it’s something that I care about. So I found a way to make that a part of my life.”
Azle senior Megan Waldock, a chemistry major and board member, said her participation on the board lets her see the environment from a new perspective.
“My view on sustainability tends to be really scientific and looking at just the science aspects of it, but it has been good to see it from kind of an ethical standpoint of ‘we should protect the environment because it is God’s creation, and he’s entrusted it to us,’” she said.
Waldock’s involvement with the board has impacted her in other ways.
“It’s made me really aware of just the little things that we can do that add up to such huge things,” she said. “You just don’t think about it when you throw a plastic bottle away in a trashcan, but all together it really does make a difference.”
Allen said she thinks she has learned a lot through the board meetings.
“If I wasn’t on the board I don’t think I would know half of what I know about what’s going on, on campus, regarding sustainability,” she said. “I think it keeps me in-the-know, and it’s nice to know about things you care about.“
Other members of the board include Colleyville junior Erin McGowan, Seabrook junior Eric Goethe, Grapevine doctoral candidate Victoria Romberg, Seabrook junior Jennifer Gueldner, Azle sophomore Claire Whitcomb, Coppell senior David Dreier, Seabrook freshman Madeline Gladu, Aurora, Colo., junior Cameron Dews, Houston senior Dannie Dinh and Waco junior Sarah Rosenbaum.