Welcome to The Sustainability Challenge

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.20140826acp181_sp056Photo by Stephen Patton, University of Kentucky, Agricultural Communications.


Blog 13, Celebrating my Accomplishments


Throughout the entire spring semester of 2015- 2016 school year, I really dedicated myself to the sustainability challenges. While I’m really not that big on changing my everyday routine, these challenges really opened up my eyes on simple changes that can make a huge impact on sustainability. One of my favorite challenges was the Vemi-composting bins. This is one of the biggest projects that I was waiting for in this section. Being able to compost in my apartment back home really makes a difference in the amount of trash that goes to the dumpster and also helps with not going to the landfill. While this wasn’t my only favorite, the fact that we got the opportunity to grow always cool in the mason jars and bean sprouts was quite a great moment as well! One of the hardest challenges I faced was being left without my car for a day…

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Blog 12: Volunteering


For this week’s challenge, I challenged to give up my time, take a break from the computer and cell phone and volunteer in something I truly love. Even though I help out this organization back in my home town quite a bit, this week I dedicated it to the Simon Kenton Welding Team. Through competition nights when I was still in my High School’s FFA chapter it was nice doing something I know that this team will cherish forever. FFA stands for the Future Farmers of America and inside this group is a serious of smaller groups and one that I want to focus on is the Simon Kenton FFA. Their welding team was looking for a few people to help teach the newer members how to weld for the competitions that come up throughout the summer. It was an incredible group to work with. It brought back many memories…

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Blog 11: Eating Seasonally, Cooking


For this week’s challenge I decided to eat seasonally and somewhat local. I found this recipe for the mushrooms that is in season for Kentucky in late April. It consists of three cups of mushrooms, 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, two eggs, one cup of seasoned bread crumbs, two tablespoons of butter, six ounces of mozzarella cheese slices, and ¾ cup of chicken broth. The recipe called for preheating the oven to 350 degrees, place half of the mushrooms in 9×13 pan. Dip chicken into beaten eggs, then rolled in the bread crumbs. In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Brown both sides of chicken, then place on top of mushrooms, arrange remaining mushrooms on chicken and top with mozzarella cheese. Add chicken broth to the pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes. It was a great experience in creating this meal because for someone…

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Celebration Post!


Looking back, I really enjoyed the Sustainability Challenge.  I am so sad that it is over and that the Greenhouse LLP is not going to be a thing next semester.  I am so glad that I was a part of it my freshman year and I wish others had the opportunity to experience it as well!  I think that it is so important to be aware of the ways in which we treat the environment and to learn about all the volunteer opportunities that this program has introduced me to!

My favorite challenge of this semester was probably the eating locally/seasonally challenge.  I really enjoyed the amazing food we cooked as a class and individually.  I also have learned a lot over the course of this year about how eating locally can really help the environment.  Before my first semester at the University, I had no idea how much extra…

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This week, instead of volunteering for an organization, I ended up picking up trash around campus for an hour.  I wish I had looked at the assignment earlier than I did, because there were a few cool volunteer opportunities that I saw on the Greenhouse Volunteer page.  While I was walking around campus, I noticed that there is a lot of trash!  I found a whole pizza box just sitting on the lawn in the bowl by the William T. Young Library!  People do not seem to care about littering and keeping our campus clean and healthy.  They don’t seem to understand why it is important to throw trash away/recycle what we can.

Around campus, I noticed that one problem seen is that the trash cans are always so full, so some people just ended up putting their trash on the group by the trash can, and the wind blew…

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Challenge Blog 13: Celebration

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.

Challenge Blog 12: Volunteering

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.

Town Branch

Here’s our group before the dirty work began!

Challenge Blog 12: Volunteering

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.


Cooking Local and Seasonal Food


Mango Salsa:

  • 2 semi-ripe mangos, pitted, chunked, unpeeled
  • 1 cup (16 g) fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 medium red onion, peeled or approximately 3/4 cup chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, halved, seeded
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice or lemon juice

Mexican Street Corn Salad with Avacados

  • 4 ears fresh corn, husked and kernels cut from cob (3 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped red or green onion (if using red run under      water and drain to remove harsh bite)
  • 1/3 cup slightly packed cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 oz Cotija cheese, finely crumbled
  • 3 Tbsp mayonnaise (light or regular)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lime juice, divided
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder, then more to taste (I used part ancho chili powder part regular)
  • 1 1/2 medium avocados (semi-firm but ripe) peeled, cored and chopped small

The challenge this week was to…

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