Hesston College deepens commitment to sustainability

Hesston College sophomore Leah Mueller of Halstead, Kan., separates recyclables from trash during the college’s September 2011 homecoming celebration.

Hesston College is now a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education to further campus efforts toward building a healthy and just world.  Through membership in AASHE, Hesston will receive support in advancing its sustainability initiatives throughout the institution and in the community.

“Hesston College has been active in sustainability efforts for a long time,” said Vice President of Finance and Auxiliary Services Don Weaver. “Sustainability is a core component of God’s call to us to be good stewards of all the resources we have been entrusted to manage. Joining AASHE is another step forward in accessing resources to continue to improve the ways in which we take care of our world.”

AASHE is an association of colleges and universities working to create a sustainable future by enabling higher education institutions to meet their sustainability goals through specialized resources, professional development and a network of peer support.  Membership covers every individual at an institution, so the entire campus community can take advantage of member benefits.

“We are delighted to have Hesston College on board and participating in the campus sustainability community,” said Paul Rowland, executive director of AASHE. “This shows a real commitment to playing a leadership role in some of the biggest challenges of our time, and provides the campus community with access to thousands of examples of best practices in campus sustainability.”

AASHE hosts the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), a comprehensive campus sustainability rating system that enables institutions to measure their progress and learn from others. With STARS as a roadmap, institutions can select meaningful and appropriate pathways to sustainability while conserving valuable resources, combating climate change and building healthier communities.  AASHE also offers extensive online resources and discussion forums for professional development and sharing knowledge.

AASHE is one of two supporting organizations for the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. More than 670 presidents and chancellors from institutions across the country have committed to lead their institutions to climate neutrality as soon as possible.

Hesston College placed extra focus on issues of sustainability for the 2011-12 academic year led by efforts from the First Year Experience seminar and a campus-wide common read “No Impact Man” (Picador, 2010) by Colin Beavan.

In September, the college observed its first No Impact Week, with daily presentations and activities relating to certain aspects of sustainability, including consumption, trash, transportation, food, energy and water. The week of events was an opportunity for the campus community to experiment with sustainable living and care of the environment on campus and as individuals.

A Campus Stewardship Group made up of Hesston College students, faculty and staff was formed during the fall 2011 semester to continue conversations about campus sustainability practices and to explore ways to decrease the college’s carbon footprint.

“The group serves as a place for those with an interest in sustainability to discuss and explore ways Hesston College can continue and improve on sustainability practices already in place,” said chair Gerry Selzer. “We want to bring awareness and education about sustainable practices to the rest of campus, and be supportive of ideas to accomplish those goals.”