UCCS a sustainability powerhouse with the Green Action Fund

18 September 2018

Travis Boren

[email protected]

    The Green Action Fund (GAF) is a fund generated by student fees that works to improve the environmental sustainability of campus.

    The GAF began as a $5 a semester fee passed in April 2008 to collect money for solar projects. It was expanded to a more broad scope after a student vote in the spring of 2011. After a special election during the spring 2013 semester, the fee was extended and renamed to its current nomenclature.

    The GAF chooses how money is spent through a committee that students, staff, and faculty can apply to participate in, although at any time only one staff member and one faculty member possess votes.

    Linda Kogan, director of Sustainability, has worked with the committee since its inception.

    “I love a lot of stuff out at the farm and the greenhouse because a lot of those projects we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise,” said Kogan. “Students tour through that facility so they see it, they work there, they volunteer there, so it impacts a lot of people.”

    The committee’s webpage shows projects that the GAF committee has successfully funded on campus in the past, including the beehive initiative, the racks for skateboards, and improvements at the greenhouse.

    Arielle Cassiday, alumni representative and non-voting member, has worked with the GAF committee for two years now.

    “The best experience I’ve had with [the GAF committee] is the student engagement aspect, because I was able to spread the word around campus about the opportunities that GAF provides for students,” said Cassiday.

    Three grant opportunities are available on the GAF’s Mountain Lion Connect (MLC) page: one for a small grant under $15 thousand, one for a large grant over $15 thousand, and one for a sustainable conference.

    Grants are evaluated by the committee on five criteria: the reduction of ecological footprint, increased student involvement, education and outreach, long term feasibility and the scope of impact at UCCS. The grants that the GAF approves are open to any student or organization that can meet the five criteria.

    Natalie Rodriguez is the project coordinator for the committee.

    “I joined the committee because I really wanted to make a change on campus and I wanted to be a part of that change,” said Rodriguez. “I thought that it was a very neat opportunity that a lot of people do not know about. I wanted to be able to be a part of the education and outreach portion which I’m very comfortable with.”

    Rodriguez used to work as a park ranger, where she would run educational outreach programs teaching people about sustainability at national parks.

    “My best experience has been meeting other students who are just as passionate about sustainability as I am,” said Rodriguez.

    Kogan works closely with Rodriguez, serving additionally as a mentor to the committee, giving a historical perspective on which projects were not funded and why.

    “I work closely with the project coordinator because so many of the projects impact facilities on campus so there’s a lot of stakeholders that often need to be told ahead of time, or to be asked or to be brought into the process,” said Kogan.

    The GAF committee is hosting a kick start meeting on Sept. 28 at 10:30 a.m. at Clyde’s patio. Kogan says that the meeting will be a great time to meet with Rodriguez and get feedback on grant proposals. Kogan also says that food will be available for attendees.