Mini-grant awards support sustainability projects on campus

The Eastern Mennonite University student group Earthkeepers has announced the 2019 winners of its annual mini-grants supporting campus sustainability projects.

The mini-grants fund sustainable initiatives on campus “that wouldn’t otherwise happen,” said Earthkeepers co-president Andy King, and that “get students and faculty to actively participate in EMU’s goal of sustainability,” said leadership team member Miriam Beck.

Another purpose is to foster creative and educational collaboration – as is apparent in the projects awarded this year:

  • The Cycling Club was granted $500 to purchase and – with help from Best Bike Mechanic of the Blue Ridge Ben Wyse – repair more bikes for renting out to EMU students at a subsidized price, said club president Ella Reist. “It advocates biking culture around campus and Harrisonburg.”
  • Senior Ben Zook was awarded $450 to help fund his solar-powered mobile kiosk, which will be on the turf field to power any needs there, including the concession stand. The project, which will be a collaboration between the Earthkeepers and Engineers for a Sustainable World clubs and the Student Government Association as well as local companies Engineering Solutions and Secure Futures, “represents the student body interest in implementing sustainability designs around campus,” he said.
  • The Sustainable Food Initiative (SFI) received $150 for a water collections system for the campus chicken coops, a project that King called “simple, but ingenious.” The system, to be built and installed by SFI members, will increase “the self-reliance of SFI food production and reduces the campus’s water requirements,” said Wade Banks, SFI co-president.
  • The Chronicles of Yarnia knitting group received $100 for a “tempestry” knitting project creating tapestries that illustrate the change in temperatures in a location over the years. “The finished pieces will depict climates change in a unique fashion and attract attention and awareness that numbers in a report cannot,” said advisor Barbara Byer.

The Earthkeepers mini-grants were first awarded in the 2009-10 academic year, when $500 went to the Cycling Club’s early development, $300 helped build a trash/compost counter in the dining hall, and $200 supported the theater department’s production of “Wild Blessings: A Celebration of Wendell Berry.”

Supported projects in other years have included reusable mugs in common grounds, clotheslines in the dorms, the Student Solar Panel Project, the Engineers for a Sustainable World solar-powered golf cart and more.

Anyone on campus – staff, faculty, and students – can apply for the mini-grants, which are funded by Earthkeepers, the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions and other campus organizations. The projects are evaluated based on creativity, durability and visibility, and educational and collaborative potential.

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