SIU Celebrates Earth Day with Over $63,000 in Green Fund Grants and More

Saluki Recycle Your Bicycle is one of the 2022 Green Fund grant recipients, claiming a $4,500 prize. Through this collaborative School of Automotive and University Housing program, a team of students will refurbish unwanted and donated bikes at the end of each semester and redistribute them to incoming students. The program was originally launched in 2020 as “Recycle Your Bike” with a Green Fund grant of $4,740. It has worked since and the photo is from that time. (Photo provided)

April 22, 2022

SIU Celebrates Earth Day with Over $63,000 in Green Fund Grants and More

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Projects focused on clean energy, sustainable agriculture, recycling and other initiatives aimed at making the region and planet Earth a greener place received funding during the Day celebration of the Earth from Southern Illinois University Carbondale on April 22, which marked the culmination of a month of special activities focused on the environment.

The announcement of the 2022 winners of the student-initiated Green Fee-funded scholarships was made at a special ceremony on Friday afternoon at the Morris Library. This year, 14 proposals were submitted across campus, and after careful consideration, using specific, pre-determined criteria, the Sustainability Council chose to fully fund seven proposals to the tune of $63,052.

Karen Schauwecker, Sustainability Coordinator, said the Green Fund grants align well with SIU’s strategic plan, Imagine 2030, whose pillars include sustainability.

“These projects will advance sustainability on campus and provide social and environmental benefits,” she said. Schauwecker noted that projects with strong student leadership, outreach and education components are favored by the committee, which includes students, faculty and staff. Additionally, the council favors projects that are collaborative in nature, involve multiple units and departments, and align with existing SIU sustainability priorities.

This spring, four of the proposals came from students who had prepared their applications as part of a class credit project. The remaining 10 requests requested a combined total of $124,242.

“I enjoyed watching the Green Fund proposals. They showed how dedicated the SIU community is to sustainability and how we push boundaries,” said Kate Held, a finance and pre-law major with minors. in Environmental Studies, Spanish and Economics, from Chatham, Ill.who sits on the Sustainability Council.

Named Winners

The beneficiaries of Green Fund 2022 grants are:

  • $28,230 – Revitalization of the sustainable student farm. The goal of this project is to revive the Student Sustainable Farm as an educational center for students and the community, and a food source for the SIU dining halls. The funds will be used to improve infrastructure, including a new elevated tunnel, food safety equipment, agricultural supplies and equipment, and provide employment opportunities for students.
  • $13,451 – Banking on batteries. Led by students from the Department of Automotive Technology, this project will provide new batteries and hardware that students can use to repair and install on electric vehicles used by the department, E-Rides and EV Cruiser.
  • $7,380 – Promising Pastures. This SIU Farms Beef Center project will establish a rotational grazing area for cattle. The benefits of this sound land management include improved soil health, pasture biodiversity, reduced erosion and improved herd health. The funding will be used to purchase fencing material and seeds to establish the pasture.
  • $6,000 – Clean Electric Power from a Hybrid Renewable Energy System, Phase 3. This is part of an ongoing project involving research focused on the cybersecurity of smart grids enhanced by renewable energy systems, in collaboration with the Power Systems Design Lab of the School of Electrical, Computer and Biomedical Engineering. The grant will provide partial funding for a graduate assistant position and research-related undergraduate employment opportunities.
  • $4,500 – Saluki Recycle Your Bike. This collaborative School of Automotive and University Housing program allows a team of students to refurbish unwanted and donated bicycles at the end of each semester and then distribute them to interested incoming students on campus. the following semester. The grant will cover bike parts and marketing. The program originally launched in 2020 as the Recycle Your Bicycle program and received a Green Fund grant of $4,740.
  • $1,750 – Dawgie bags. Designed to address student food insecurity issues, this program, led by students in the Human Nutrition and Dietetics program, will provide students with pre-packaged bags each month featuring recipes and ingredients from the Saluki Food Pantry and the Student Sustainable Vegetable Farm.
  • $1,741 – Sustainably feeding our Salukis. Students in the Human Nutrition and Dietetics program are initiating plans for this partnership to allow students to use the Saluki Food Pantry to obtain locally produced fresh vegetables grown at the SIU Student Sustainable Farm with a coupon system. The funds will cover harvesting and packaging equipment, as well as the produce itself.

“It’s exciting to see the ideas people have on campus and how the Green Fund grantmaking process works. It’s a great opportunity to help Salukis achieve any vision they have for advancing the sustainability,” said Seth Traiteur, principal engineer of Christopher, Illinois, who sits on the Sustainability Council. “The fund has been a vital part of the SIU for the past 13 years and hopefully will continue to be so in the future.”

Recognize students’ environmental dedication

The SIU also presented special awards to recognize students who have gone above and beyond in their environmental dedication efforts over the past academic year.

Agnieszka Sawrasewicz, Senior Major in Forestry from Chicago, received the Environmental Ambassador Award, given to students who devote at least 30 hours during the academic year to environmental stewardship and service through academic and community organizations. The majority of Sawrasewicz’s volunteer efforts have gone to the Red Hen Garden, a local gardening and food security group, and the Saluki Food Pantry. She also currently sits on the Tree Campus Higher Education Committee.

Several Sustainability Service Awards were also presented, recognizing outstanding student leadership on campus. Recipients include:

  • Green Roof team members were honored for their efforts and successes in establishing renewable energy learning opportunities, as well as for their professionalism and collaborative efforts. Members include Nelson Fernandes, Prem Rana, Zachary Boehl, Stephen Schulte, Olivia Sapp, Tanner Clark, Joshua Konvalinka, Aron Taylor and Gustavo Felicio-Perruci.
  • Seth Traiteur, Principal Engineer of Christopher, Illinoisrecognized for his dedication to improving recycling processes on campus and for serving on the Sustainability Council for three consecutive years.
  • Breanna Whitley, MSc student in Plant Biology from Pinckneyville, ILhonored for her leadership in the registered student organization SENSE and her dedication to advancing climate action planning on campus through education efforts.

Norma A. Roth