I am engineer which means I love to solve problems – to find solutions, particularly when it comes to the environment. I am an optimist – deep down I believe a solution exists to most any problem though we may not be willing to accept the tradeoffs associated with that solution. I am also teacher at heart. I love working with students. My goal is to help students become engaged learners and critical thinkers.
When I was asked to become involved in Greenhouse, I saw a wonderful opportunity to continue to meld all of these things I love. As I was brainstorming ideas for Greenhouse, I read a book called No Impact Man by Colin Beavan. The book resonated with me in that the author, who recognized that his political and environmental views were not in line with how he was living his life, decided to make a lifestyle change – and in a big way. For one year, the author and his family slowly learned to live their lives while making “zero” (a.k.a. minimal) impact on the environment. What stood out to me, almost as must as the extremity of his lifestyle changes (no I am not advocating going without electricity), was his willingness to try new things, be willing to make mistakes, and in general, to learn. Colin did not start out with all of the answers, but he was willing to search for solutions.
This course, UK 100-001 The Sustainability Challenge, is an opportunity for students to learn ways to live their lives more sustainably. In the class room, we will participate in hands-on activities related to topics in the book (e.g. ever made your own cleaning products or a vermicomposting bin?). Each week, students will also engage in new challenges – some I anticipate they will love, others, not so much.
My goal for the course is to expose the students to new experiences. My hope is that they, and our readers, will adopt some of these techniques for living more sustainably.Photo by Stephen Patton, University of Kentucky, Agricultural Communications.
Through out class this semester there have been many activities I have enjoyed, but just as many that I have struggled with. The whole reason I took this class was to see if I would able to change, and obviously there were a few things that just aren’t going to happen for me, but it was fun to say that I’ve tried.
Some of my favorite challenges and in class activities were the day we made the composting bins, the seasonal eating, shopping sustainably and the homemade products. I was super excited to try the compost bin, which now is being watched by my mom since I’ve been too busy to hang out in my room very much. The seasonal eating was cool thing about what we could make that doesn’t have a ton of food miles, and that actually is in season. I enjoyed the trip to plato’s closet, because it then inspired me to take some of my clothes to a consignment store because I just have WAY to many clothes, and even though I was sick the class where we made the cleaning products, I enjoy using the ones you all made for me.
Some of my biggest challenges were going a day without making trash, and the no electricity day. I think I always have too much stuff on my brain to remember everything, so I struggled to remember through out those days that I wasn’t using electricity and I needed to not make any trash. If I did it for more than one day I think it would have been easier.
Overall, I really enjoyed this semester (and last). I’ll miss our small class, and our field trips to plant trees even though it was snowing in April, and our laid back vibe. I was not one someone who thought about sustainability until I was apart of Greenhouse, and now I have a new perspective on things and I’m super grateful for that. I think this class will always have an impact on me, and how I treat myself and the earth.
Thanks Carmen, and the rest of Greenhouse for a great semester and freshman year 🙂
This week I read that we were challenged to Volunteer for an organization. At this point I was already committed to another volunteering opportunity that I had been practicing for the previous Monday. Wesley Foundation, CSF and other Christian organizations on UK’s Campus put together a Campus Worship night with 2 student led bands, a band from asbury, and other performances. I had volunteered for singing in one of the Worship bands. We did an 8 song setlist and practiced outside of Campus Worship night. Someone recorded highlights from the night and put it up on youtube. My band starts playing at 2:30 and I am the girl in the Red/orange shirt. Campus Worship Highlight Video Here
This experience was amazing, I was able to sing and give my time for a great, unifying night. Practice times were late at night on busy days of the week for me but we were able to practice and get everyone together for our set, which lasted about 60 minutes on stage. This really pushed me out of my comfort zone, singing in-front of such a large audience was nerve racking but it was an incredible experience. Volunteering for this was a stretch for me but I’m glad I did it, I even led a song (Oceans by Hillsong). Without Volunteers events like this can’t be successful or even happen, which makes events like this really special.
This past week, our class visited Campus Kitchen, where we learned about the work they do and assisted in delivering meals to kids at the library. It was very interesting to learn more about the work they do and actually experience part of what they do.
The challenge this week was to volunteer with another organization. For the past semester, I have been interning with the United Way of the Bluegrass’ Financial Stability team. While interning is definitely different from just volunteering, I think in this case my work is pretty voluntary, because it really doesn’t relate to my field of study at all.
Since my time at United Way, I have done a lot of their filing and smaller tasks that they wouldn’t usually have time for. Before I came on board, the team had another full time staff member who would usually do the things I have been doing, so their files had fallen a bit behind. I think this experience has been pretty rewarding, because I have helped out the organization in a way I typically would not have thought of.
Additionally, this Saturday I went on the Town Branch clean up field trip. This experience was very eye opening for me, because I had no idea how much trash could be in once tiny part of a river (or creek?). While it was definitely a dirty job, it was necessary that it be done so that the trash wouldn’t eventually wind up in the ocean.
Here’s our group before the dirty work began!
This week, I volunteered for a little over an hour of my time at Sweet Blessings. It is a non-profit organization that makes the cutest birthday cakes for poor and sick kids in the area. I heard about the organization through girls in my sorority that volunteer there once a week, so I went with them to see what I could do to help.
When I arrived, I was really impressed with the amount of people there helping. The day i was there, they were working on a little over 30 cakes for the week. There’s many different jobs that have to be done such as designing the cakes, cooking, decorating, cleaning and preparing cakes to be decorated, the more you work, the more they can see your strengths and they’ll place you accordingly. Since it was my first time, I spent half of my time wrapping cakes and sorting them in preparation for assembly and decorating, and the other half of my time doing dishes from all the cakes they had baked for the day (which was ALOT, considering each cake usually has a few tiers). The women in charge were so nice and helpful. The first time volunteering somewhere can be a lot to take in, but everyone made me feel like i was one of their regular volunteers.
I hope to go back soon, but with school ending things have just been so busy. I think I may go over summer if I have days off from work. I like volunteering at places that are happy environments, because most of the time volunteer work can be sad, because of other peoples situations, but also super satisfying because you know this cake will make some little kids birthday that much better. It just makes you realize how good you have it off compared to some others.