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New Green Grad Program to encourage sustainable practices among students

The Green Grad Program will offer graduating students the chance to be recognized for their sustainable choices. Graphic courtesy of Hannah Remke and Paige Minor

Drake University students are now gaining a new academic opportunity to add to their resumes – the Office of Sustainability’s Green Grad Program, which encourages all Drake students to participate in environmental education. While the program is still determining how Green Grads will be recognized, students involved in environmental organizations are hoping that it will encourage participation in campus sustainability.  

The program requires ten sustainability points to complete. Environmental science and sustainability majors receive six points from their curriculum, and both majors and non-majors can earn points through volunteering, organizing and attending sustainability events and holding environmental leadership positions. Non-majors/minors can also earn points by taking certain sustainability courses. 

Since becoming Drake’s sustainability coordinator in 2022, Hannah Remke has been working on big changes. Drake’s Green Grad program isn’t the first. Similar programs exist at Butler University, California State University – Chico and George Mason University. Remke took inspiration from Butler’s Green Office program in particular, as it had a simple scoring system for students to track as well. 

An ongoing challenge Remke is working on is what acknowledgment the Green Grad Program will offer its enrolled students. Remke has talked with Drake’s committee on graduation regalia, yet due to the current rules in place on graduation cords, Green Grad would not qualify. 

“We were allowed to have a stole, but you can only wear one stole for each [organization],”  Remke said. “We’re kind of still looking for [a form of] visual recognition. This will be the first pilot of graduates. See how many people we get, what the interest is, the feedback and then see what we can come up with.”

Students interested in signing up must submit a Google form where they submit their name, major, graduation date and other relevant information. According to Remke, six students have already signed up.

Many of the students excited for this program are involved with DEAL, which is led by Anna Snyder, a sophomore majoring in environmental science. 

DEAL hosts weekly meetings on Tuesdays at 7 p.m., most featuring presentations on campus sustainability or arts and crafts with recycled publication materials. 

“They’re [the meetings] not designed to only cater to ENSS students,” Snyder said. “They’re designed to cater to a much larger audience. Lots of very entry level information. You won’t go there and look at carbon models. We’ll go there and talk about what you can do about climate change.” 

For Snyder and Remke, the biggest obstacle to Green Grad is clear: awareness. 

I think the barrier to entry is mostly just not knowing that these things are going on on campus. I know DEAL and Epsilon Eta are actively working towards marketing,” Snyder said. “A lot of people don’t understand the severity of environmental issues on campus and in Iowa. I feel if they understood the severity of it, then they would be more apt to do something like the Green Grad program or attend a DEAL meeting.

Courard-Hauri, who has been on sabbatical for the last year, arrived back from a J-Term in Ecuador just in time for the announcement of Green Grad. He has been a Drake professor for more than twenty years and was the chair of the environmental science and sustainability program until his sabbatical.

He also recognized prairie habitat loss as a major issue in Iowa. According to Iowa State University, the prairies of Iowa have been reduced to 0.1% of their original state, leading to a devastating impact on native plant and animal species. Courard-Hauri believes that programs like the environmental science and sustainability major and the Green Grad program can create a lasting difference, as his college sustainability experiences stayed with him throughout his life.

“I was excited because I think it’s nice to have the ability to identify [and] celebrate learning about sustainability issues while you’re here in a way that is not as intense as taking a major,” Courard-Hauri said. “A lot of the DEAL students are interested in environmental issues, but they’re not majors. It gives [Drake] a chance to recognize that.”

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2 Comments

  1. Kim Smith February 22, 2024

    Well-done story, Asha I enjoyed reading it. I hope all goes well.
    Kim Smith

  2. Kim A Smith February 23, 2024

    Well-done story, Asha. I enjoyed reading it.
    Kim Smith

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