Sustainability in the arts, greening health sciences, and certifications for student groups. Selling succulents for sustainability, greening the Greek community, and leading local markets. The students of UW EcoReps work on sustainability initiatives that have an impact on many different aspects of the University of Washington.
This year, the EcoReps student group was recognized for its hard work promoting sustainability on and off campus with a Husky Green Award. These prizes are awarded to members of the UW community who act as positive change makers by showing true environmental stewardship and commitment to sustainability.
EcoReps is a campus RSO that "works with peers, faculty, and staff to make the University of Washington a more sustainable place by implementing green ideas." EcoReps offers a number of projects for volunteers to contribute to, but also has a long history of acting as an incubator for innovative projects. While EcoReps is an independent student group, it is closely integrated with UW Sustainability. This innovative partnership allows students to connect with campus administration and staff when needed for projects. EcoReps encourages potential members to bring in their own ideas and allows them to mobilize their own support and points of contact within UW Sustainability to support fledgling ideas.
Alex Urasaki, an outgoing senior studying Environmental Science & Terrestrial Resource Management, worked hard over the last two years to get EcoReps to where it is today. He served as the club's outreach officer last year through a paid internship offered by UW Sustainability. This year the internship wasn't offered, but as a volunteer he expanded his role to serve as this year's club coordinator, spending around 10 hours a week on EcoReps while going to class and working a part-time job.
EcoReps' Husky Green Award win has been a particularly gratifying experience for Alex and is a recognition that has been a long time coming. "EcoReps has meant so much to me over the last two years and this award feels like a culmination of all the hard work. I couldn't be more thankful to share it with such a wonderful and motivated team."
This year EcoReps has been flourishing due to an influx of environmentally dedicated students and services learners, many of which have contributed their own projects or expanded older ones. Service learners work with UW EcoReps in conjunction with their academic coursework through a program offered by the Carlson Center. The learners work on EcoReps project to gain professional development in public speaking, writing, event planning and business etiquette in exchange for course credits. Many returning members are former service learners themselves, and credit the valuable professional experience they gain as a key factor in their membership.
Some of EcoReps most successful past projects have grown and spun off into their own student organizations. Green Greeks, a group of sustainability advocates within the Greek life, actually began as an EcoReps initiative. Once it gained the legs to support itself, it relocated into the Greek community to have a more direct impact. It now operates as its own RSO entirely separate from the EcoReps, and efforts are underway for the two to form collaborative projects for the future.
This Spring, the EcoReps leadership team has been on passing along the EcoReps mantle to its new officers. This group of five specialized coordinators focus on fundraising, outreach, membership, administration and communications, and will serve as the 2018-19 club leaders. Michaela Leung, the primary leader of outreach and de facto coordinator, aims to use her role to build campus partnerships that will allow EcoReps to work social sustainability into their mission.