Geography students lead the way in environmental sustainability


by Emma Seli ('23)

Geography students painting spirit rock

In an active demonstration of peer-to-peer sustainability outreach, three Geography students—Chess Duckwell, Maddie Shanholtz, and Stephi Shraga—have become Inaugural Student Educators for the Institute for Stewardship of the Natural World (ISNW) for 2023-24.

Their role is to enhance awareness, knowledge, and understanding of environmental stewardship and sustainability opportunities available to JMU students.

Duckwall and Shanholtz seized the opportunity presented in their GEOG 280 class, while Shraga learned about it through the Environment and Sustainability Residential Learning Community. Intrigued by the prospect, the students aimed to contribute to on-campus activities.

Duckwall emphasizes the importance of spreading awareness about sustainability beyond the confines of classrooms or specific areas on campus, noting that their efforts are a step toward making a positive impact on the world. 

Recently, they participated in Campus Sustainability Month (CSM) in October, an international celebration recognized by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). During CSM, college campuses advocate for sustainability practices, increasing awareness and engagement among students.

Shraga mentions their efforts to inform people about Campus Sustainability Month and provide guidance on sustainable actions. They assisted Facilities Management by correcting signs on recycling bins across campus, advertised CSM opportunities such as Science on a Sphere presentations in Dukes Weekly, and even painted a world map on East Campus' Spirit Rock – all part of their commitment to promoting sustainability practices and awareness at JMU.

As a peer educator, Shraga's goal is to have a tangible environmental impact, even if it's minor, such as ensuring proper recycling practices through correctly labeled bins.

Their on-campus involvement benefits the students and allows them to connect more deeply with the JMU community. They serve as inspiration for those seeking to bring about meaningful change on campus and contribute to overall environmental improvement.

Furthermore, their efforts contribute to the campus sustainability rating, with JMU receiving a Silver Rating through the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) self-reporting process, as noted by the ISNW.



About ISNW

The ISNW is dedicated to enhancing environmental stewardship and sustainability by advocating for university priorities, coordinating the collaborative efforts of the university to promote cultural change and a broader sense of citizenship for environmental sustainability, and challenging all members of the JMU community to participate in educational opportunities and think critically about their role in achieving the long-term stewardship of Earth.

This initiative aligns with the JMU President's Goal for sustainability.

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Published: Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 5, 2023

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