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Sustainability Inspiration Awards
UMD is committed to communicating, educating, and inspiring action to integrate sustainability into all aspects of campus life. The Sustainability Inspiration Award acknowledges significant contributions to sustainability efforts at UMD, including but not limited to: sustainability awareness, education, and leadership efforts, energy savings, greenhouse gas reduction, waste minimization, local agriculture and economy, and other resource-saving activities.
The Sustainability Inspiration Awards honor an undergraduate student, a staff member, and a faculty member from UMD who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting campus sustainability in education, operations, and/or any aspect of campus life.
To nominate, see the categories and form at the bottom of the page.
2019 Award Recipients
2019 Sustainability Inspiration Award Winners (L to R: Ed Kruse, Nick Blotti, Dave Herrera, Julie Etterson)
2019 Staff Recipients: Ed Kruse and Nick Blotti
Custodial Services are the front line to reducing waste on campus. The system developed at UMD is now color-coded in signage, the bags used for waste streams, and most importantly, the BINS to encourage proper sorting. BLUE means recycling, and GREEN means composting! Facilities Management has worked to make sure that waste containers all follow the color guide.
Ed Kruse and Nick Blotti found that some of the nicer, metal containers in public areas didn't meet the current color scheme for recycling. So, instead of getting rid of-- or replacing-- these containers, they took it upon themselves to improve the containers by painting the lids blue for recycling. The bins turned out great, look professional, and helped save money from avoiding replacing the containers. Plus, now they are consistent with the recycling color scheme, making it easier for people to properly recycle at UMD. By repurposing what we already had, Ed and Nick avoided buying additional containers - a win-win for saving money and reducing waste. Thank you Ed and Nick, for inspiring sustainable choices, for supporting campus waste reduction goals, and for using campus resources wisely--- we’re grateful for your leadership!
2019 Student Recipient: Dave Herrera
If you know Dave Herrera, you already know that he does A LOT for this campus and his work on sustainability is only a portion of the impact he’s had here. Dave’s work in sustainability will leave a legacy on this campus and paves the way for future student leadership through his work of bridging disciplines, creating relationships with administrators, and developing policies that have made (and will keep) UMD better than he found it. To quote just a few of his seven nominators (yes, SEVEN!), Dave “is the go to guy for anything related to sustainability”, “has gone above and beyond as the Director of Sustainability for Student Association”, and “is razor focused on making Duluth the most sustainable city not only in the Midwest, but in the country”.
That last one might be a little exaggerated, but I wouldn’t put it past Dave. Dave’s nominators also reminded us of the MANY projects that Dave has had a hand in: worked at the UMD farm, created the Sustainability Director position within SA and is the first to hold that office, rebooted the Student Sustainability Coalition, supports the SUN Delegation and solar development on campus, helped UMD sign on to be a pollinator friendly campus, and is helping campus get bee and bat houses to create habitat. Most importantly, Dave never fails to bring in the social and environmental justice aspects of topics we engage in. He is a champion for human beings and their wellbeing in this work, which sadly can be overshadowed sometimes by cute baby animals or picturesque outdoor spaces. In sustainability and on this campus, Dave does it all and embodies positive and inclusive leadership along the way. We are proud to recognize Dave’s never-ending work through this award. Congratulations, Dave.
2019 Faculty Recipient: Julie Etterson
In Fall of 2018, Dr. Julie Etterson led the establishment of a partnership between the U of MN’s Institute on the Environment and UMD, called “IonE@UMD”. As part of this effort, she organized several events to bring together members of the campus for retreats, tours, and research presentations. For students, she hosted an "Earth, Sky, Water" tour, which demonstrated the ways UMD research and projects focus on the challenges of climate change. Dr. Etterson also played a key role in planning for the "Our Climate Futures” summit. This conference brought together researchers from across the campus, SeaGrant, and NRRI, along with climate experts, community members, and both undergraduate and graduate UMD students, to learn about the future of the climate in our region.
Beyond Dr. Etterson’s action on campus, she is also a highly respected researcher, focused on how plants are react to a changing climate. Her work addresses critical questions about whether plant species have the adaptive capacity to respond to a rapidly changing climate. She also leads a massive effort to collect seeds from modern populations and preserve them for future research efforts in her “Project Baseline” initiative.
A quote from her colleague sums it up best: “I have personally been inspired by Dr. Etterson through her passionate involvement and compassionate drive. She is very direct with what her goals are, yet very gentle when people ask for explanation. Her diverse background explains why sustainability must be interdisciplinary. She also works on empowering other female peers, and makes sure that many different folks are part of the conversation.”
Dr. Etterson has demonstrated her commitment to sustainability, not only to UMD, but to the community. Her work inspires people on campus and in the community to engage in important conversations about climate change and other environmental challenges, and for that we honor her today.
2018 Award Recipients
2018 Sustainability Inspiration Award Winners (L to R: Maddie Sinclair, Ann Pellant, and Geoff Bell)
2018 Student Recipient: Maddie Sinclair
Maddie Sinclair works tirelessly on campus to promote both understanding of sustainability and sustainable development action and projects. Maddie has been an active SUN Delegation member, she traveled with faculty on an international sustainability and renewable energy research trip (Europe Energy Transition Tour), and has played a key role in the German Culture Club. Maddie has also served as a valued employee in UMD's Sustainability Office for three years, leading efforts to organize events, connect the campus and community, and recently played a lead role in organizing SELFsustain 2018, a U of MN leadership conference on sustainability.
In academics, she is an outstanding student and helped play a leadership role in the German Culture and Sustainability course with Dr. Dan Nolan in Fall 2017 to help deepen the impact of learning for everyone in the class. Maddie focused her research project on a comparison of a local sustainability-focused community organization with a similar organization in our partner city in the Climate Smart Municipalities Program. By comparing Ecolibrium3 and the Energy Club of Siegen, Germany, Maddie and her research team were able to produce concrete recommendations and derive important real-world lessons from her international comparative analysis of these organizations and the societies in which they function.
With the UMD Solar University Network, she has helped guide UMD investment in solar energy, and presented the group’s work on solar expansion on campus to the Isaak Walton League, University for Seniors (Climate of Hope course), to the UMD Student Association, and at a national Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference.
2018 Staff Recipient: Ann Pellant
Ann Pellant helps lead sustainability efforts for UMD Stores, including convening a Stores Sustainability group, made up of engaged and active student employees. This group implements sustainability initiatives, including campus clean-ups, Bag Free events, and represents UMD Stores at sustainability and community events. Ann portrays a true passion for sustainability, and others, especially our student employees, feed off of her enthusiasm.
2018 Faculty Recipient: Geoff Bell
Dr. Bell is an ardent supporter of sustainability on the UMD campus. To create awareness among his students to view sustainability issues from an organizational perspective, he created a new Foundations of Sustainable Management course. Dr. Bell has served on the Sustainability Education Committee in the Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE) where he champions not only curricular initiatives on sustainability, but also day-to-day tactical issues such as recycling bins within the building and their placements. Among other things, the committee maintains a Sustainability Advising Guide to help students identify courses from across the UMD campus that have a sustainability emphasis. He played a leadership role in designing and implementation of a new, cross-disciplinary minor in Sustainable Business and Organization. Dr. Bell is also an active member of a UMD campus-wide Sustainability Education Committee, which he has chaired since Fall 2017. In the community, he serves on the board of Sustainable Twin Ports and frequently uses his Duluth-area connections to invite guest speakers to his classes to talk about sustainability.
2017 Award Recipients
2017 faculty recipient: David Syring
2017 student recipient: Aidan Fawcett
Aidan Fawcett, a mechanical engineering student and leader in the UMD Solar University Network (SUN) Delegation. Over the past year, Aidan dedicated a great deal of time to learning and understanding how solar energy systems work and the obstacles that must be overcome to bring more solar to the UMD campus. The SUN Delegation team gathered resources and worked to overcome both financial and technical barriers to solar development. The SUN Delegation will celebrate the groundbreaking of an 11-kilowatt solar pavilion project in May that will double renewable energy production at UMD.
2017 staff recipient: Tim Bates
2016 Award Recipients
The 2016 Faculty Sustainability Inspiration Award recipient is:
Dr. Ken Gilbertson, Department of Applied Human Sciences Applied Human Sciences, College of Education and Human Service Professions for his advocacy and active involvement with the promotion of sustainability and sustainability education at UMD for over 25 years. He is recognized internationally as an important leader in guiding work in protected nature areas. “Ken engages the students in a way that is inviting and helps them see their strengths and how they can contribute to make the world a better place”.
The 2016 Staff Sustainability Inspiration Award recipient is:
Ryan Hueffmeier, Natural Resources Research Institute for his leadership in formalizing a sustainable culture both internally and externally at NRRI; focusing on opportunities with the largest potential environmental, economic, and social returns. He has mentored numerous UMD student interns in projects related to solid waste and recycling, energy and water conservation, sustainable food production, and outreach and education.
The 2016 Student Sustainability Inspiration Award recipient is:
Carissa Kloncz, Chemical Engineering for her dedicated work as a Solar University Network Delegate. Carissa was instrumental in securing a NREL solar assistance grant for UMD as well as in a successful Student Service Fee request for capital investment dollars to bring more solar to campus.
2015 Award Recipients
2014 Award Recipients
2013 Award Recipients
How to Submit a Nomination
Nominate a student, staff, or faculty member using this Google Form. Further information and eligibility requirements are below.
Sustainability Inspiration Award – Student
The Student Sustainability Inspiration Award honors an undergraduate student from UMD who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting campus sustainability in education, operations, and/or any aspect of campus life.
Eligibility: Any undergraduate student enrolled at UMD who has played a leadership role in implementing campus sustainability is eligible for this award.
Award: The student winner will be acknowledged at the annual UMD Student Awards ceremony. A $100 gift card will be given to the student winner of this award.
Sustainability Inspiration Award – Staff
The Staff Sustainability Inspiration Award is presented to a staff member (or team/collaboration) from UMD who has demonstrated leadership in establishing, promoting, or in other ways to support the campus in a sustainability manner and/or advance sustainability in education on campus. The award will recognize one Staff member (or team/collaboration) that has created or implemented a project or activity that impacts campus or community sustainability awareness, education, and action. This effort should be above and beyond the staff person’s regular responsibilities as an employee.
Eligibility: Any staff/faculty member (or team/collaboration) at UMD who has played a leadership role in establishing, promoting, or in other ways furthering the goals of sustainability in education, operations, and/or campus life is eligible for this award.
Award: The Staff winner will be acknowledged at the annual UMD Student Awards ceremony.
Sustainability Inspiration Award – Faculty
The Faculty Sustainability Inspiration Award is presented to a faculty member (or team/collaboration) from UMD who has demonstrated leadership in establishing, promoting, or in other ways to support the campus in a sustainability manner and/or advance sustainability in education on campus. The award will recognize a faculty member (or team/collaboration) that has created or implemented a project or activity that affects the campus or community sustainability climate, awareness, and action that has great promise to increase sustainability or has potential to greatly reduce the carbon footprint of a campus unit or population. This effort should be above and beyond the faculty’s regular course curriculum.an employee.
Eligibility: Any faculty member (or team/collaboration) at UMD who has played a leadership role in establishing, promoting, or in other ways furthering the goals of sustainability in education, operations, and/or campus life is eligible for this award.
Award: The Faculty winner will be acknowledged at the annual UMD Student Awards ceremony.