As a child, Nolan Bade would go camping with his family and during these trips Bade learned to appreciate nature. This is also when he realized that there would be a need for sustainability activists in the future.
When Bade would get back to the city, he would think about how trees and animals used to cover the area, and how soon it would be before the places in nature he enjoyed would become a plot for a new building.
Now Bade is a senior at Northern Arizona University and an environment major. He meets with the Student Environmental Caucus every week. The caucus is a group of students interested in sustainability and increasing the green initiatives effort on campus.
Bade and his group are not alone in their commitment to nature. All three Arizona universities have least one student-run group where students look for ways to increase the green initiatives efforts on their campuses.
The groups focus on diverse topics from strengthening recycling on campus to discussing and presenting energy science research.
The idea is to give students a chance to gain experience working with the green movement while also helping the environment, according to Anne Simon, the chair of the Energy Science Group organizing committee at the University of Arizona.
According to Simon, the Energy Science group began in January 2010 when a group of advisors from departments across campus decided that a student-run group was needed to bring together different disciplines to cover different energy science ideas, according to Simon.
According to the Energy Science Group website, the group discusses a variety of topics including organic photovoltaics, compressed air energy storage and battery technology. The group requires little to no funding, and is part of the Energy Frontier Research Center, which is part of the U.S Department of Energy.
One of the students benefiting from the group is Blake Coughenour, a graduate student in the College of Optical Sciences. Coughenour presented his research on CPV Solar Panel systems at the group meeting on Feb. 17.
Coughenour says the group is beneficial to students because it gives them the opportunity to be exposed to different research on campus and learn how their research ties into the bigger picture. “It is really helpful to know how you should explain your part of renewable energy to any type of audience,” Coughenour said.
Simon said that what sets the Energy Science Group apart is that the group branches out to all students regardless of grade level or major, to make each discussion more diverse. “We want to touch on every type of aspect of energy… all of the kinds of the things that will make you a well-rounded energy expert.”
Bade and his group at NAU are also working toward having a more diverse group of students. According to Bade, the majority of students who participate are environmental studies majors.
Unlike the Energy Science Group at the U of A, the caucus focuses more on the social aspects of sustainability, rather than energy science. “We are very into the social aspects of buying food locally, shopping locally, really a full spectrum of sustainability is our goal,” Bade said.
Bade said NAU student groups are more into communicating and having students do their part on a smaller scale. There are at least 16 different student groups that work on a specific area. Some of these groups are the Transportation Action Team, The Botany Club and Eco House.
Arizona State University students agree with this. The Campus Student Sustainability Initiatives group at ASU works with different departments to promote sustainability among the students, according to Eric Beeler, the executive director of the group.
The group interacts with the other 11 student groups on campus which includes the Real Food Challenge, is a project that works to bring ecologically sound food to the campus, and the Sun Devil Green, a group that works with the residence halls to implement in sustainability efforts, according to a document provided by the ASU School of Sustainability.
Beeler said the group’s mission is to create and foster an environment of students and professors and encourage sustainability engagement projects.
Although the schools have not collaborated on any projects, they hope to contribute to the state on a larger scale in the future.
Bade said NAU hopes to impact the state by demonstrating their education to environmental students, and teach students how to truly invest in sustainability as an individual.
“What needs to happen first is that we need to educate our freshman on what it truly means to live a full spectrum of sustainabiliy of lifestyle.”