Environmental Leadership Awards Celebrate Those Who Make Orange Green

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The 2021 Environmental Leadership Awards were held virtually in April in celebration of the hard work UT students, faculty, staff, and community members put in year round to help Make Orange Green.

Jointly hosted by the Committee on the Campus Environment (CCE) and the Office of Sustainability, eight awards were given out after an update on campus sustainability initiatives was provided by UT Sustainability Manager and CCE Co-Chair Jay Price.

Student Organization Environmental Leadership Award

Awarded to a student organization that demonstrates environmental stewardship through engagement, action, and leadership.

Recipient: Compost Coalition (student members: Rachel Stewart, Christina Young, Julia Craven, Abby Lawrence, and Alivia Nytko)

Compost-CoalitionThe Compost Coalition is a newly formed student organization with a focus on three core aspects of composting: logistics of bin access, student engagement, and social media/education efforts. This year, they completed a composting pilot in the Student Union, created a social media platform to increase reach and provide education, administered a survey, proposed a compost support bill through the Student Government Association, and held an Earth Day compost event.

Student Environmental Leadership Award—Academics

Given to a student that demonstrates environmental leadership in the classroom or as a part of their education.

Recipient: Trystan Bordeau, senior in geology and environmental studies

Trystan-BordeauBordeau is truly a person who speaks for those that cannot speak—the living organisms. He has been a research student for the last three years, focusing on invasive species of gastropods and conservation. He has twice published and has presented his research at the national convention for the Ecological Society of America. He has worked with the Department of Plant Sciences as an extension intern and will work this summer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory studying environmental toxins. In 2019, he was co-director of the Environment and Sustainability Committee for the SGA and helped introduce a bill to remove the use of plastic straws on campus.

Student Environmental Leadership Award—Engagement

Awarded to a student or students that demonstrate environmental sustainability or environmental justice leadership outside of the classroom, in addition to or separate from their education.

Recipient: Rachel Stewart, sophomore, environmental justice in Central Asia with a minor in nuclear decommissioning and environmental management

Rachel-StewartStewart is an undergraduate research assistant with the research center CURENT. Her research interests focus on how radioactive waste and nuclear testing impacts the environment and people’s health in a post-Soviet context. Stewart has been an Office of Sustainability intern for two years—focusing on composting efforts on campus—and helped create the new student-led Compost Coalition in order to tackle the logistics, marketing, and student engagement of expanding compost infrastructure.

Stewart also started driving UT’s compost truck and working at the site in order to get a more in-depth picture of how waste flows through our campus. She is also the co-president of Students Promoting Environmental Action in Knoxville, a student organization in which she has adopted an environmental justice lens in order to show members how environmentalism and social justice interact. She has helped establish a bigger campus presence for the group by taking the lead on actions like Say No to the Foam, an effort to eliminate Styrofoam on campus.

Faculty Environmental Leadership Award

Given to a faculty member that goes above and beyond to demonstrate environmental leadership in their job responsibilities and in their department through teaching, research, and more.

Recipient: David Keffer, professor of materials science and engineering, Tickle College of Engineering

Keffer-David-MSE-2016The research of Professor David Keffer in developing alternative carbon-based battery electrodes and…



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