two young men repairing bicycles

Saluki Recycle Your Bicycle is one of the 2022 Green Fund grant recipients, claiming a $4,500 award. Through this collaborative program from the School of Automotive and University Housing a student team will refurbish unwanted, donated bicycles at the end of each semester and re-distribute them to incoming students.  The program initially launched in 2020 as “Recycle Your Bicycle” with a $4,740 Green Fund grant. It has been in operation since and the picture is from that time. (Photo provided)

April 22, 2022

SIU celebrates Earth Day with more than $63,000 in Green Fund grant awards and more

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Projects focusing on clean energy, sustainable farming, recycling and other initiatives to help make the region and planet Earth a greener place were awarded funding at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Earth Day celebration April 22, which marked the culmination of a month of special activities focusing on the environment.

The announcement of the 2022 winners of grants funded by the student-initiated Green Fee was made during a special ceremony Friday afternoon at Morris Library. This year 14 proposals were submitted from across campus, and following a careful review, using specific, predetermined 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 fit well with SIU’s strategic plan, Imagine 2030, whose pillars include sustainability.

“These projects will move sustainability forward on campus and will provide both social and environmental benefits,” she said. Schauwecker noted that projects with significant student leadership, outreach and educational components are given preference by the committee, which comprises students, faculty and staff. In addition, the council favors projects that are collaborative in nature, involving multiple units and departments, and fit into existing SIU sustainability priorities.

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

"I enjoyed looking over the Green Fund proposals. They showed how dedicated the SIU community is to sustainability and how we are pushing boundaries,” said Kate Held, a finance and pre-law major with minors in environmental studies, Spanish and economics, from Chatham, Illinois, who serves on the Sustainability Council.

Winners named

The 2022 Green Fund grant recipients are:

  • $28,230 – Revitalization of the Student Sustainable Farm. The goal of this project is to reboot the Student Sustainable Farm as an educational hub for students and the community, and a food source for the SIU dining halls. Funds will go toward infrastructure improvements, including a new high tunnel, food safety equipment, farming supplies and materials and to provide student employment opportunities.
  • $13,451 – Banking on Batteries. Spearheaded by students in the Department of Automotive Technology, this project will provide new batteries and hardware the students can use to repair and install on the electric vehicles used by the department, the E-Rides and EV Cruiser.
  • $7,380 – Promising Pastures. This SIU Farms Beef Center project will establish a rotational grazing area for livestock. Benefits of this sound land management include improved soil health, pasture biodiversity, reduced erosion and enhanced herd health. The funding will be used for fencing materials and seed to establish the pasture.
  • $6,000 – Clean Electric Energy from Hybrid Renewable Energy System, phase 3. This is part of an ongoing project involving research focusing on the cybersecurity of smart grids enhanced by renewable energy systems, in conjunction with the Power Systems Design Lab in the School of Electrical, Computer and Biomedical Engineering. The grant will cover partial funding for a graduate assistantship and undergraduate employment opportunities related to the research.
  • $4,500 – Saluki Recycle Your Bicycle. This collaborative program from the School of Automotive and University Housing, enables a student team to refurbish unwanted, 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 bicycle parts and marketing. The program initially launched in 2020 as the Recycle Your Bicycle program and received a $4,740 Green Fund grant.
  • $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 prepackaged bags each month including recipes and ingredients sourced 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 enable students to use the Saluki Food Pantry to obtain fresh, locally produced vegetables grown at the SIU Student Sustainable Farm with a coupon system. Funds will cover harvesting and packaging equipment, as well as the produce itself.

"It is exciting to see the ideas people have across campus and how the Green Fund grant process works. It’s a great opportunity to help Salukis accomplish any vision they have to advance sustainability,” said Seth Traiteur, a senior engineering major from Christopher, Illinois, who serves on the Sustainability Council. “The fund has been a vital part of SIU over the past 13 years and hopefully will continue to be in the future."

Recognizing student environmental dedication

SIU also presented special awards to recognize students who went above and beyond in their environmental dedication efforts during the past academic year.

Agnieszka Sawrasewicz, senior forestry major from Chicago, received the Environmental Ambassador Award, presented to students who dedicate at least 30 hours during the academic year toward environmental stewardship and service through campus and community organizations. The majority of Sawrasewicz’s volunteer efforts were spent with the Red Hen Garden, a local gardening and food security group, and the Saluki Food Pantry. She also currently serves on the Tree Campus Higher Education committee.

Several Sustainability Service Awards were presented as well, recognizing outstanding student leadership on campus. The recipients include:

  • The Green Roof Team members honored for cross-campus efforts and successes in establishing renewable energy learning opportunities and their continuing 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, senior engineering major from Christopher, Illinois, recognized for his dedication to improving recycling processes on campus and for serving on the Sustainability Council for three consecutive years.
  • Breanna Whitley, a master’s student in plant biology from Pinckneyville, Illinois, honored for her leadership with the registered student organization S.E.N.S.E and her dedication to moving the climate action planning forward on campus through education efforts.