Two at WCU Named Campus Sustainability Champions
WCU’s Amy Maxcy and Abigail Kennedy have been named Campus Sustainability Champions for 2020 by the Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium (PERC).
The title is awarded annually to students, faculty, administrators, and staff of Pennsylvania colleges and universities who have made meaningful contributions benefiting social, economic, and/or environmental sustainability on their campuses, in their communities, or beyond.
Maxcy (West Chester, PA) is one of only 12 non-students honored with the award. She provides administrative support within the Office of Sustainability “but regularly goes above and beyond in her job duties to support the work of WCU’s Sustainability Council,” wrote Director of Sustainability Brad Flamm in his nomination. “Amy is a knowledgeable and valued contributor to WCU’s sustainability community and our work would be challenging to complete without her steady dedication to the cause.”
In addition to supporting the Sustainability Council and its nine subcommittees, Maxcy took the initiative to build an online workspace to facilitate the group’s cooperative work on revisions to the University’s Climate Action Plan. She works with the Council’s Zero Waste Committee and has completed the first of a three-part waste and recycling course.
To support environmental, social, and economic sustainability education for employees, Maxcy serves as a facilitator for multiple training workshops, including the upcoming Brandywine Project Staff Sustainability Workshop Live Webinar on Thursday, July 23, and Friday, July 24. Open to all staff from all areas of campus, this virtual workshop takes place from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. each day.
But the initiative of which she is most proud is the enormously successful “Pack It Up, Pass It On” student yard sale that launched in spring 2019. Students, faculty, and staff cooperated to collect gently used (and even new) clothing, furniture, and household goods to reduce waste during the University’s move-out period. Maxcy organized a team to host a yard sale during student move-in last fall, netting more than $1,500. Add in the pop-up thrift shops hosted by the Sustainability Peer Educators (under her direction) and the initiative brought in approximately $2,000.
“We diverted three full Dumpsters worth of goods from the landfill and saved tipping fees,” she reported.
Likewise, student Campus Sustainability Champion Abigail Kennedy ’20 (Wallingford, PA), one of only 11 winners, has been involved in several sustainability initiatives including as the chair of WCU’s Students for Sustainable Action (SSA) and co-chair of Fair Trade WCU. She earned her bachelor of science in professional studies this May, concentrating on communications and human geography, mentored by Joan Welch, professor of geography and planning. Kennedy also earned the WCU Student Leadership in Sustainability Award.
She augmented her environmental skills after high school, working for four months on an off-grid, self-sustaining organic farm on Maui, HI. There, she learned about policy issues and social justice from a roommate. A transfer to WCU, she says, “I injected myself into the new Office of Sustainability” as a volunteer.
“I want to create awareness around environmental activism,” Kennedy notes, so she completed the undergraduate certificate in Education for Sustainability (EFS) guided by Paul Morgan, EFS director and associate professor of Educational Foundations & Policy Studies. The certificate prepares her to teach others and to catalyze institutional and cultural change. She already models interesting ways of sustainable living: “I carry a container bag with me with reusable utensils and my purse is a reusable bag.”
That habit is connected with her drive to “#SayNoToStyro,” a campaign she and fellow SSA members implemented in spring 2019 to bring attention to the volume of Styrofoam containers used by the lunch trucks on campus. One result was a “lending library” of reusable containers at the Center for Contemplative Studies, located on Church Street near the lunch trucks. Kennedy says four students stepped up to continue that effort.
As student leader for last year’s Sustainable Food Sources in Urban Communities in Philadelphia alternative break service trip, Kennedy found that “the experience went beyond what a service trip could be.” In addition to supporting the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's City Harvest program, working in urban produce gardens, and helping eliminate urban food deserts, students learned firsthand about community activism from Philadelphia’s Betsy Casañas, artist, muralist, and director of A Seed on Diamond Gallery (S.O.D.) and founder of Semilla Arts Initiative. The trip is organized by Ashlie Delshad, associate professor of Political Science and faculty associate for service learning.
Kennedy has also organized student-focused Brandywine Project workshops; coordinated monthly campus clean-ups; and integrated environmental stewardship into outdoor education as a supervisor with WCU’s outdoor program.
Last summer, Kennedy apprenticed with Chester County’s Open Space Preservation office, where she utilized Graphic Information System (GIS) programs to add to their database of preserved properties and wrote for their newsletter.
Flamm’s nomination noted, “Abigail embodies what it means to be a Campus Sustainability Champion.”