On March 1st, 2011, I was invited to give a presentation to Truman State University students, faculty and local Kirksville small businesses on how to go green. I was invited by SIFE, a group of international mostly business students, who work to make their education real by interfacing their learning with community projects. This year, this group learned more about sustainability and its benefits to business practices from a fellow student, John Nolan. John, who was my co-presenter, serves on Truman State’s President’s Sustainability Initiative, as well as on student government helping them infuse more environmental practices in student activities.
Before the presentation, Dr. Michael Kelrick, Truman’s sustainability guru for 23 years, gave me a tour of their greening efforts. We visited the “Communiversity” Garden in the center of campus where students are developing a plot of ground to grow food. Not only is this project a social endeavor among clubs and negotiating with administration, but they are converting water intensive sod into a learning lab for teaching about local organic food production and composting. Next, we visited their farm where Michael built a composting site being used to research the ideal composition of green to brown organic matter. Last, we visited Truman’s recycling center. They collect the usual paper and containers, but also help process the surplus for the university as well. I learned that Truman State won RecycleMania several years ago! I plan to stay in touch to pick his brain so our school could improve our waste management strategies. I also didn’t get a chance to tour the Bulldog’s Biodiesel program.
The small businesses gained excellent tips from John on why going green makes economic, environmental and social sense. His passionate information was grounded in his own small landscaping (xeriscaping) business as well as his interdisciplinary major combining sustainability and public policy. What a dynamo. Not coincidentally, John is Dr. Kelrick’s student! John was a hard act to follow! I shared about both STLCC’s successes moving towards sustainable practices, as well as from my experience working with the city of Florissant on the Environmental Quality Commission. The Chamber of Commerce took away several new strategies for their city, such as the “Cool City Business” program that uses a small survey to recruit companies who are practicing energy efficiency.
Special thanks to Brigit Han from SIFE for inviting me. I loved mingling with Truman folks as well as the local enthusiastic business owners. Not only was I able to share from my own passion, but learned a great deal from their own practices. I hope to return the favor when they visit St. Louis. Sharing stories is how we all can move forward.