Lees-McRae College, a Sullivan Foundation partner school, is joining colleges and universities around the world in a monthlong sustainability push.

Campus Sustainability Month is sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), a group that empowers faculty, students, and staff to drive change at their institutions. AASHE inspires higher education to lead the way in creating a more sustainable world. At Lees-McRae, Campus Sustainability Month ties into a long history of conserving and stewarding the local environment.

“We have a deep-rooted past of sustainability and resiliency at Lees-McRae,” said Katie Wall, the program coordinator for Outdoor Recreation Management. “This is part of what makes us distinctive. I’m thrilled that we are continuing our commitment to sustainability at Lees-McRae and learning about ways we can improve and grow.”

Current sustainability initiatives include a community garden, campus-wide recycling, and a composting program, all organized by the sustainability-oriented student group Green Team.

Related: William & Mary initiative challenges Virginia kids to solve microplastic pollution problem

Another campus group, C.R.A.N.K. Crew, helps create a bike-friendly community by advocating for increased bicycle accessibility and educating students on bicycle maintenance and safety. Many academic programs, including Outdoor Recreation Management and Wildlife Biology, incorporate sustainability education into the curriculum, covering topics like conservation and Leave No Trace practices.

Throughout October, these campus groups and others will lead activities that teach sustainability principles and empower individuals to make healthy choices for themselves, their community and the planet.

On Oct. 1, students had the opportunity to sign up for Project Green Challenge, which sends daily sustainability challenges to their email. Other activities include a trip to the Watauga County Farmers’ Market, a “slow roll” faculty bike ride, a flora and fauna identification walk, a discussion on the link between diversity and sustainability, and a biking trip along the Virginia Creeper Trail.  

The fall semester’s Mountain Day of Service will also take place during Campus Sustainability Month on October 13. Students, faculty, and staff will assist with various volunteer projects around Avery and Watauga Counties as part of the college’s commitment to giving back to the local community.

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