UM Students Contributing to a More Sustainable Future â€“ Volunteer Week
Each year, students help progress sustainability at the University of Manitoba (UM). Through participation in various events, activities and workshops, as well as the Sustainability Ambassadorsâ€™ volunteer program, students continue to raise awareness, gain new skills and engage others in their sustainability efforts in the UM community.
In celebration of National Volunteer Week (April 19-25, 2020), we recognize some of the undergraduate and graduate students who not only have displayed their commitment to sustainability but have also made an impact on campus, in their city and within their communities.
Fiona Lebar: Fiona Lebar is a third-year environmental science co-op student and the winner of the 2020 Undergraduate Student Sustainability Award. Lebarâ€™s interest in environmental stewardship has blossomed into an initiative surrounding recycling and waste reduction on campus. She organized and conducted a â€śwaste audit,â€ť which assessed the amount of waste entering into each stream (landfill, recyclable and organic) and behaviours around disposal to improve UMâ€™s environmental performance.
â€śWaste audits are remarkable to me because they give you an opportunity to truly see the volume and scale at which we throw things away. I knew that the opportunity to conduct a waste audit on campus would be a fantastic chance to collect data on what students, faculty and staff are throwing away and use this information to hopefully create a positive change in the waste system on campus. To me, one of the first steps to making a positive change is knowing the baseline data/current situation, and a waste audit does just thatâ€ť, says Lebar.
Noelle Wood: Noelle Wood is a third-year environmental studies student with a focus in sustainable development. She volunteers with various student groups and has also helped with student-led projects in the Office of Sustainability. Last summer, Wood participated in the UM Farmersâ€™ Market, with her unique, handmade, reusable snack bags and accessories, known as Woodworks Productions.
â€śI wanted to start Woodworks because I have always loved to sew and I see a huge opportunity to change the way that the fashion industry operates, and educate people on the issues surrounding it, and also as a way to cut down on single-use waste, which has been a focus of some of my studies. These are also the reasons I joined the UM Environment and Geography Studentsâ€™ Association (EGSA) and why I enjoy participating in the Office of Sustainability events!â€ť â€“ Noelle Wood
Nicholas Pasieczka: Nicholas Pasieczka is a second-year engineering student with a focus in renewable energy and power systems. He served as a member in the University of Manitoba Engineering Society (UMES) this past year and joined the Sustainability Ad Hoc Committee. Along with other volunteers, he helped to implement composting/organics collection in the Engineering & Information Technology Complex buildings, in order to help other students divert their organic waste from the landfill. He has also been actively involved in various events and projects around campus such as Invent for the Planet, the student energy team and UMEARTHâ€™s Solar Canopy Project.
â€śFor the UMEARTHâ€™s Solar Canopy Project, I originally wanted to start educating myself on various forms of renewable technology and started thinking: what could we have here at the U of M? I started to speak to more people and eventually pitched the idea at our AGM of having small-scale solar panels array over one of our parking lots. Our current plans are to hopefully construct the array behind the Parking Services building in U Lot. This will help diversify the U of Mâ€™s energy supply and potentially power lighting and charge electric vehiclesâ€ť, says Pasieczka.
The Office of Sustainability is incredibly thankful for these volunteers, and all those who are not listed here. Student volunteers bring passion, creativity and energy to projects and are essential to progressing UMâ€™s sustainability journey.
If you would like to volunteer with the Office of Sustainability or a sustainability student group in the future, email sustainability [at] umanitoba [dot] ca