April 30, 2019

Many award winners announced at SIU’s Sustainability Celebration

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale wrapped up its month-long celebration of Earth Month with a big event featuring grant announcements, award presentations and more on April 30. More than 20 students, faculty/staff and organizations were honored for their “green” efforts and a wide variety of “green” projects got help to move forward.

SIU Sustainability by the decades

It’s an historic year for SIU’s sustainability efforts. Twenty years ago, then-Chancellor Jo Ann Argersinger signed the Talloires Declaration, making SIU the state’s first institution of higher learning to make a commitment to take action to help create a more sustainable planet and foster a “green” mindset.

Then, 10 years ago, the SIU Board of Trustees approved the student green fee, now a part of the general student fee, initiated at the request of students. Students contribute about $10 per semester with all of the funding going toward efforts to make campus more sustainable.

The newest green fund grant winners

This year 22 grant funding proposals were submitted for Green Fee funding and the Sustainability Council, which is comprised of students, faculty and staff, reviewed each application carefully. The group ultimately decided to award more than $54,000 to 12 projects. In all, approximately $2.25 million has been approved for a total of 193 projects since the fee was enacted.

The newest grant awardees, announced at this week’s sustainability celebration, are:

  • Graduate Research Assistant for Energy Efficiency - $9,937 to fund a graduate research assistant who would work with Physical Plant Engineering Services in the analysis and implementation of energy-efficiency projects on campus.
  • Multi-Use Trail Project at Touch of Nature - $8,263.50 to partially fund a graduate student who will plan monthly trail work days and conduct a botanical survey for the first phase of the trail system project.
  • Adding Occupancy Sensors in the Neckers Basement: $8,100 to install occupancy sensors for the lighting in the lower level of Neckers to reduce energy usage.
  • Clean Electric Energy from Hybrid Renewable Energy System – Phase I: Proof of Concept - $6,000 to increase the campus investment in clean, electric energy. This project involves experimental implementation and validation of a hybrid renewable energy system (HRES) in the Power Systems Design Lab.
  • Elkay Filling Stations at the Transportation Education Center - $4,814 to partially fund two water bottle refill stations at the SIU automotive and aviation programs facility.
  • Innovation and Sustainability Class - $3,260 to partially support a student-initiated class focusing on innovation and sustainability for the fall semester.
  • Water Bottle Refill Stations for Touch of Nature - $4,873 will go toward installation of two water bottle refill stations at Touch of Nature Environmental Center, assuring visitors can stay hydrated while the facility cuts down on patron usage of disposable plastic water bottles.
  • Install Water Cooler with Bottle Filler at Quigley Hall - $2,900 to add a water bottle refill station in Quigley Hall.
  • Zoology Graduate Student Association Seminar Series - $2,222 to partially fund a seminar series, bringing guest speakers of notable backgrounds to campus to address “green” issues.
  • Swipe Out Hunger x SIU - $1,500 to address food insecurity on campus by creating a program whereby students can donate guest passes from their meal plans to assure that other students who have food insecurity can enjoy a warm, nutritious meal.
  • Wall and Grand Recycle Project - $1,500 to install a recycling bin in each apartment within SIU’s Wall and Grand Apartments complex.
  • Environmentally Sustainable Paper Straw Usage at SIUC – $1,069.04 was allocated to help cut down on the use and disposal of plastic straws by switching to paper straws at the Student Center Marketplace and Delyte’s in Morris Library.

Environmental Ambassadors honored

All SIU students who log at least 30 hours of service to a cause related to the environment during an academic year are eligible for the Environmental Ambassador Award, sponsored by the Sustainability Council and awarded by Chancellor John M. Dunn.

The 2018-2019 Environmental Ambassadors, listed by their hometowns along with their majors and year at SIU, are:


Bunker Hill

  • Rashelle Runge, senior, biological sciences with ecology specialization.


  • Seth Traiteur, freshman, civil engineering.


  • Zachary Telford, junior, forestry.


  • Joanna Neu, junior, crop, soil and environmental management.


  • Katelyn Toigo, senior, double major in geography and environmental resources and zoology.


  • Gage Mofield, junior, zoology.


  • Holiday Wagner, master’s student, geography and environmental resources.

Mt. Carmel

  • Alexis Myers, senior, public health.


  • Gabby Robles, senior, political science and economics.


  • Makenna Baxter, senior, forestry/resource management.


  • Breanna Whitley, senior, plant biology.

Prairie du Rocher

  • Raymond A. Bieri III, senior, forestry.
  • Taryn Bieri, junior, forestry.


  • Kaylin Janicke, senior, zoology.


  • Mary Kate Sohst, senior, forestry.



  • Emma Ensley, junior, forestry.



  • Hannah McComber, junior, zoology.



  • Pearl Sika Deku, master’s student, geography and environmental resources.

Additional recognition given

Also at Tuesday’s celebration, three other special recognitions were given. Justin Harrell and the Tree Campus USA Advisory Committee (including current and past members) were honored as Sustainability Collaborators, people or groups who are working to make SIU a greener, more sustainable campus and who help further the efforts of the Sustainability Office.

The Honorary Environmental Ambassador award is given to an individual or group who has shown outstanding dedication to sustainability through their work or activities on campus and Justin Schoof earned this honor. Given in the spirit of the Student Environmental Ambassador Award, awardees have gone above and beyond their regular duties to promote a more sustainable SIU.

Harrell serves and mentors

Harrell, Physical Plant and Operations mechanical engineer, was a founding member of the Sustainability Council, appointed by former Chancellor Sam Goldman in 2009 and served in that role until June 2013. He has also led or been heavily involved with five Green Fund projects and served in a consulting role for several more through the years.

His feedback has been important to dozens of green fund project ideas and he has been part of more than 14 major campus energy initiatives, including renovations and retro-commissioning projects. Moreover, he has served as a mentor for about 14 students through their master’s degree programs, assistantships or student internships.

Earning Tree Campus honors

The Tree Campus USA Advisory Committee, led since inception in 2016 by Dave Tippy, superintendent of grounds, is comprised of an evolving group of dedicated faculty, staff, students and forestry experts who have all dedicated considerable time and effort. The committee oversees SIU’s Tree Campus USA designation and hosts an event each spring and fall semester. Past events include campus tree walks and demonstrations for local elementary school students as well as tree plantings.

Along with Tippy, the current members include: Elizabeth Cheek, Grounds Department administrative aide; John Groninger, forestry professor and acting associate dean; Karen Schauwecker, SIU Sustainability Program coordinator; Mark McDaniel, city of Carbondale arborist; and SIU forestry students Makenna Baxter, Austin Econie, Katelyn Rasche and Zachary Telford.

Former committee members who were recognized include former student members: Nora Jacobs, geography and environmental resources graduate, and forestry graduates Ashley Bergman, Katherine McGrath and Kevin McIntyre. Also noted were Jason Tabor, former campus arborist, and Patrick Monaco and Travis Phillips, forestry graduates who assisted with tree inventory.

Additional information about SIU’s Tree Campus USA designation and the advisory committee is available online.

Schoof shares climate expertise

Schoof, professor and chair of geography and environmental resources, is an expert in climatology with a specific focus on climate modeling. His research interests include climate variability and change, statistical climatology and synoptic climatology.

Schoof actively shares his knowledge upon request both on campus and in the community. His lectures and presentations explain complex scientific climate concepts and data in a clear, straightforward manner that’s easily understood by non-expert audiences.

Getting involved

The celebration at Morris Library was hosted by SIU’s Sustainability Office and also featured refreshments and a wide variety of displays and interactive activities. In addition, those attending got the chance to learn more about and join the Saluki Green Action Team, the campus organization committed to increasing awareness and making the community more sustainable.

To learn more about SIU Sustainability, visit sustainability.siu.edu, call 618/453-2846 or email sustainability.siu.edu.

Sustainability Celebration