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Students “Walk the Talk”

May 17, 2011 – Students in the college take their commitment to preserving natural resources and the environment personally and often far beyond the classroom.

As president of the Environmental Coalition at Virginia Tech, Kara Dodson, a junior in the University Honors program majoring in environmental resources management, serves as a mediator between all coalition members to ensure that environmental initiatives are properly prioritized. She helps coordinate many events for the student-run organization, which promotes sustainable practices through various activities on campus, including Earth Week. Dodson is also a student representative on the University Energy and Sustainability Committee with Dean Paul Winistorfer.

Dodson, who recently switched majors from civil engineering where she focused on water sanitation and distribution, attributes her decision to a change in perspective on how to solve environmental issues. “Over the last few years I’ve really focused my personal education from technical answers to environmental issues to natural ones,” said Dodson. In her three years of involvement with the Environmental Coalition, she has seen an increased awareness of sustainable practices on campus, which she credits to a shift in the academic climate towards sustainability and the addition of the university’s Office of Sustainability and Energy. While there is still room for improvement, the Environmental Coalition also wants to be a platform that shapes leaders. “We want to empower and inspire people to make effective change,” said Dodson.

Dodson’s experience with the Environmental Coalition was shaped, in part, by the influence of Angie DeSoto (’09 B.S. in environmental policy and planning), who was a leader in the organization as a student. DeSoto, now enrolled in the college’s Master of Natural Resources program in the National Capital Region, still works closely with the organization in her current position as the Virginia Tech campus sustainability planner.

The inspiring and innovative work of Lars Battle, another master’s student in the National Capital Region, with the nonprofit organization Long Way Home is changing how people handle sustainability and waste management issues. In 2009, Long Way Home started building Escuela Técnico Maya, a 17-building primary and vocational school in the highlands of Guatemala, using alternative building techniques. The building strategy is extremely low-cost because it uses mostly local waste materials and on-site dirt in construction. “Residents cannot easily afford standard homes. However, by teaching them the skills they need to apply green building techniques for their personal benefit, they will recognize the potential for an improved quality
of life through more resourceful behavior,” Battle observed.

    CNRE Newsmagazine Spring 2011 Cover

Spring 2011

25th Anniversary

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