New Student Guide Offers Steps for Peer to Peer Campus Sustainability Training

NWF, AASHE manual builds on decade-old Eco-Reps program active across U.S. and Canada

03-30-2012 // Max Greenberg
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To those who criticize the Millenial generation as lacking initiative and conservation concern, student-led campus greening efforts offer an inspiring rejoinder. Now, a manual that offers tips for growing those efforts hopes to ensure the movement is not short-lived.

NWF and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) have released a new step-by-step guide to creating student peer-to-peer sustainability education programs—often known as “Eco-Rep” programs—on college campuses. Authored by Champlain College Sustainability Director Christina Erickson, “Student Sustainability Educators: A Guide to Creating and Maintaining an Eco-Rep Program on Your Campus” takes readers through the design, implementation and evaluation stages of an Eco-Rep program.

“By creating Eco-Rep positions, Dr. Erickson shows how students and staff can effectively engage their peers in practices that reduce waste, improve public health, and make higher education more affordable,” said Julian Keniry, co-founder of NWF’s Campus Ecology Program. “This guide documents a powerful way in which students are taking ownership of their own communities and futures.”

Eco-Reps are relatively new but proliferating quickly. Erickson writes that the first program was established at Tufts University in 2001 to teach students about environmental issues and engage them in greening residence halls and training other students as activists. Now, just over a decade later, the Tufts Eco-Rep program is a venerable institution overseen by two upperclassman students (supervised by a staff Sustainability Program Director). It is one of more than 60 active Eco-Rep programs on U.S. and Canadian campuses, all sharing a broader mission of growing the sustainability movement from the ground up.

In releasing the report, NWF and AASHE have attempted to offer guidance in creating and maintaining Eco-Rep programs so that campus issues like waste reduction and energy conservation can spread beyond those who are already “eco-minded.” Readers of the guide will find:

  • Step-by-step action items and tips for creating, maintaining and evaluating a campus Eco-Rep program
  • Descriptions of actual programs and their best practices
  • Case studies of successes and roadblocks
  • Activity, event, marketing and outreach examples
  • Eco-Rep recruiting tools, sample job descriptions, and other resources

NWF’s Campus Ecology program reaches about 1,000 campuses each year through its student outreach programs; campus consulting; climate action competitions; and educational events. With the help of resources like the Eco-Rep guide, it is hoped that those efforts will continue to pay dividends by way of peer-to-peer networking.

Visit www.nwf.org/EcoReps for more information or to read the guide.

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