MU Sustainability Office’s Passion for Preservation Leads Campus Initiatives

For Hannah Peterson, service-learning student coordinator at the MU Sustainability Office, preserving the planet has been a priority since elementary school. In first grade, she went on a field trip to a local recycling center and learned about its benefits; namely, as she says, its power as the “gateway to sustainability.” The rest is history.

“I fell in love,” says Peterson. “I knew it was going to be an important part of my life.”

Peterson obtained her bachelor’s degree in environmental science from University of the Incarnate Word and serves as a coordinator at the Sustainability Office as a part of her curriculum in the natural resources graduate program.

As service-learning student coordinator, Peterson leads three teams of service-learning students. The focus of the teams is game day sustainability, with each honing in on a specific task during MU home football games.

The Central Sustainability Team creates marketing materials to be shared with the public; team members interact with and encourage fans to learn more about sustainability.

The Tiger Tailgate Team distributes recycling bags to tailgaters: bright blue bags you’ve likely seen if participating in game day activities. They also interact with fans to spread knowledge about the Office’s policies and practices.

The Research Team studies fans’ waste separation habits inside the stadium and the areas of landfill, compost and recycling. The end goal is to develop new practices to enhance current sustainability efforts.

“Game days are a significant focus for our program because the amount of trash collected is so large,” explains Peterson. “We want to help students and fans understand how their habits affect the community, the school and the environment.”

Srinivasan (Raghu) Raghavan, sustainability manager, believes the passion held by Peterson and the rest of his colleagues helps students do this.

“Within our office, we want to impact the overall experience of the student, not just those experiences within the classroom,” he says. “Sustainability is one of the better holistic ways to do that.”

Further aiding the Sustainability Office’s impact is its partnership with others campus-wide.

“Sustainability on the MU campus is a multi-faceted endeavor, involving academia and administration; students, faculty and staff; and partnerships within and outside the institution,” Raghavan says. “The passion of these individuals has led to high student engagement and campus commitment, which I believe will allow MU to have one of the best sustainability programs in the country.”

The program is already well on its way. In July 2015, MU’s campus ranked No.8 on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Power Partner Top 30 On-Site Generation list and No.14 on the EPA Green Power Partner Top 30 Colleges & Universities list. In 2014, the game day sustainability teams recycled 46 tons. The goal for 2015 is 60 tons.

“MU embraces its role as a leader in the environmental sustainability community, and that makes working for the Sustainability Office very rewarding,” says Peterson. “It’s a place where you can truly see the progress of your efforts.”

To learn more about opportunities with the MU Office of Sustainability, email mucfsustainability@missouri.edu, call (573) 884-9319 or visit facebook.com/MUSustainabilityOffice.