WARRENSBURG — The University of Central Missouri Office of Sustainability hosted the the annual Teach-In on Sustainability on Thursday, with more than 20 speakers presenting on topics ranging from sustainability in the residence halls to why recycling glass is important.
This year’s Teach-In had the theme “Small Changes: Big Impact” and featured speakers from UCM and Warrensburg, as well as from around the Kansas City area.
“The No. 1 reason we had the sixth annual Teach-In is to educate students and the community on how to make small changes in their everyday lives,” said Hunter Hoyer, sustainability coordinator. “Our goal is to have a platform to help people understand the issues and how to react to them.”
Megan Gurera, of Southeast Enterprises in Kansas City, spoke about the company’s holiday light recycling program, which collected 39,000 pounds of lights which were recycled through its sheltered workshop. She talked about the important dual purpose of the drive, preventing lights from reaching landfills when they can be repurposed, and providing job opportunities for people with mental or physical disabilities.
Dayona Nett, UCM residence hall director and Office of Sustainability volunteer, offered tips for how to be more sustainable on campus and in the community, with a list of small changes to make in everyday life.
The Teach-In also included UCM alumnus Leroy Shatto, owner of Shatto Milk Co. in Osborn. The company began in 2001 when Shatto and his wife began looking for alternative methods of marketing their family farm-produced milk products, and in 2003 the company began delivering milk in glass bottles to a few stores in the Kansas City area. The company’s products are now available in more than 70 retail stores in the area.
“It’s the university’s mission to use alumni to build up the environment for students,” Hoyer said. “It’s a big deal to have him here. During his presentation he gave out free samples and talked about sustainability on a farm and about being a sustainable supply chain.”
Several UCM staff and students presented about UCM’s efforts to be a more sustainable lifestyle, including Stephanie Payne, Sodexo’s regional sustainability coordinator. Sodexo, UCM’s food provider, has recently introduced recyclable to-go containers in the dining halls, and gets most of its food from local vendors. She said about 70 percent of the fish sold on campus is grown locally and obtained sustainably, and that it will soon be 100 percent in the next few years.
UCM has several projects in place to help students, faculty and staff live a more sustainable lifestyle, including recycling bins in all residence halls and around campus, which has prevented about 2.5 million pounds of waste from reaching landfills, service days, participation in Earth Week, and the Re-Cycles bike rental program. Buildings are also constructed in sustainable ways, and four buildings on campus are Energy Star certified.
New this year is the Green Resident Certification program. Students can take a survey, attend an Office of Sustainability event, and volunteer with the office to receive their certification.
“Our goal is to get students involved and to have accountability,” Hoyer said. “The Teach-In was a launching point for the certification. Small changes, big impact is a call to action and it has had an effect on campus, but it’s also our goal to help the Warrensburg community.”
For more information about the sustainability efforts on the UCM campus, visit ucmo.edu/sustain.