Recent grad promotes sustainability in the community

2014 UW-Green Bay graduate Evan Van Lanen’s dedication to sustainability has resulted in $115,000 in energy savings at a regional beef plant. As an environmental supervisor, Van Lanen has many duties including waste-water treatment, air treatment and waste disposal. The team he oversees is responsible for the implementation of a number of new projects, which have resulted in major energy savings. Read more about Van Lanen and his efforts, here (pdf).

Sprouting sustainability practices: UW-Green Bay student Tyler Delsart grows in SLO garden manager role

Nestled into the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Student Services Plaza, between the University Union and the Cofrin Library, is a quaint organic garden, complements of the student organization, “Sustainable, Local, and Organic (SLO) Food Alliance.” The guy with the trowel and a hose is likely student Tyler Delsart.

SLO was created in 2008, when a group of students went to a dean with the idea to plant an organic garden on campus as a way to jump start advocacy for campus sustainability. Originally given a small plot of land, they were forced to relocate each year, as the garden gained in popularity. Now in a central location, the campus community can watch the garden sprout with new life each year.

This is the first year that the University (Sustainability Committee, the Center for Biodiversity and Natural and Applied Sciences) has funded a garden manager, who provides a weekly gardening service. You will find Environmental Science major, Tyler Delsart, on the plaza  most Tuesdays and Thursdays. He handles the majority of the planting and tending of the garden; while other members of SLO help out when they are able.

The goal of the group continues to be to provide an avenue for a healthier campus community, and while spreading the message about the benefits of organic gardening.

“It is important to understand where our food comes from, and to grow it in a way that supports multiple organisms,” Delsart says.

Having a food system on campus is a stepping-stone to sustainability, he believes.

“What many people don’t know,” he continues, “is that agriculture is the leading cause of environmental degradation. Planting an organic garden is an easy alternative to agricultural production, and provides a bio diverse permaculture.”

Delsart plans to continue in the sustainable farming after he graduates, and hopes to eventually start an organic farm in the area.

Volunteers with the garden have a unique opportunity, which includes learning about sustainability, as well as biodiversity. The plants are organized in such a way that each plant interacts and aids in the growth of the rest; for example, the leeks are beside the carrots because they keep away carrot flies.

Funds for seeds and activities such as field trips are provided by the Segregated University Fee Allocation Committee (SUFAC). SLO buys seeds locally. Since the idea is simply to build a better food system on campus, all proceeds go right back to the university and the students.

This season’s most popular attractions are the Asian greens, which can be found in the salad mix option.

E-mails with a list of available products are sent out on Mondays, and operate on a first come-first serve basis. If you receive an e-mail confirming your order, product pickup is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Thursday.

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SLO Food Garden - Tyler Delsart

–Story by Kelsie Vieaux, Marketing and University Communication intern; photos by Dan Moore, photographer/videographer, Marketing and University Communication

Tapping into tree mapping — graduating senior Vlach tracked and coded UWGB trees for senior project

Gina Vlach left a lasting legacy before graduating in spring of 2016 from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. The UW‑Green Bay triple major mapped and geocoded every tree in the Residence Life (student housing) area of campus.

Gina Vlach
Gina Vlach

“Quite simply, I love trees,” said Vlach who did the mapping as part of a senior honors project. “Last spring I was sent an article about the tree mapping that had been done in New York City, and I thought that it would be fascinating to try to replicate it here on campus,” she explains. “Once I started my project, I realized that there was a need for a record of trees to be made and that my project could fill that gap.”

There were two purposes for this project: to determine where additional trees should be planted and to configure which areas of housing are susceptible to tree disease, to aid the university in preparing for threats and pests.

“Not knowing where trees exist or what species they are prevents facilities from properly preparing for threats and addressing them, should the threat impact trees on campus,” she said.

“The inventory Gina did of Residence Life’s tree diversity is important to campus planning for the future,” says UW-Green Bay’s Director of Facilities Management and Planning Paul Pinkston. “Philosophies on planting have changed over time. We are now moving away from a monoculture, where a single species was planted multiple times in an area. Instead, we are planning for plantings of more diverse species so we don’t have, for instance, entire sections wiped out like the recent case with Dothistroma killing Austrian pines. Gina’s work also helps us look at the ages and sizes of plantings so that we have a balance of mature trees and saplings, and different levels of shape and color for visual interest in any given area.”

UWGB Housing Tree MapVlach first determined her area of study using a map of the University. After dividing the space into quadrants with pathways as guidelines, she identified all of the trees using a guidebook, and transcribed the information onto a chart, which included location, circumference and diameter. Eventually she obtained a Garmin to generate the longitudinal and latitudinal data and 473 trees were given coordinate data and I.D. numbers and transcribed onto an Excel document. The document was uploaded into an ArcGIS software (cloud-based mapping platform) and was used to provide detailed recommendations and a variety of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) maps that illustrate the areas of concern and the tree species. Her project included a heat map indicating the highest threat level (the highest threat was given to white and green ash trees, because of the likelihood of emerald ash borers infections, for instance). She has presented her work at several campus and regional conferences.

“I am so pleased with the end result and honored that my work was able to help facilities and the Office of Residence Life select trees to plant this spring and hope that my project will continue to serve as a foundation for tree plantings in the future.”

Eleven new trees were planted in May of 2016 at Residence Life and were funded by a donation from Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) and funds from Residence Life and the UWGB Sustainability Committee.

Gina’s faculty advisor for the project, Prof. David Helpap, said he plans to use Gina’s project as an example moving forward of what an honors project can be modeled after.

“I think the effort, passion, and end-results associated with Gina’s work exemplify an excellent honors project,” said Helpap. “Gina had an interest in a particular topic, she applied the skills she learned in her courses at UWGB to develop research results and policy recommendations and she now will be able to see her project better the UWGB campus. Gina should be incredibly proud of all of the work she completed at every stage of this project.”

Vlach majored in Environmental Policy and Planning, Public Administration and Political Science, with a minor in Environmental Science. She graduated in May 2016 and aspires to return to her hometown to find a job working in either a nonprofit or public sector.

Photo gallery

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Housing Tree Planting Honors Project

– Story by 2016 graduate Angela Kingsley, photos by Dan Moore, Marketing and University Communication

Sustainable Management graduate focuses on greening NFL franchise

When Cleveland native Alexandria Skoch (pictured with Prof. John Katers) wanted to dig deeper into “greening” her hometown NFL franchise, the Cleveland Browns, she turned to a partner NFL city Green Bay and its hometown University, UW-Green Bay, for guidance.

Skoch graduated a few weeks ago with a master’s degree in Sustainability Management from UW-Green Bay. Her capstone project is “Greening the Browns: Understanding and Analyzing the Environmental Implications of a National Football League Team.”

“My final project focused on the Cleveland Browns’ environmental implications, and a lot of research, observation, and time went in to the final paper,” she said. “I was fortunate enough to experience home games at FirstEnergy Stadium from a behind-the-scenes perspective. This opened my eyes to numerous shortcomings of National Football League teams and the Cleveland Browns. Perhaps most importantly, this project has shown me that sustainability, when viewed through a business lens, is handled through more of a “greenwashing” approach rather than a truly impactful approach. Honestly, there is a lot left to be done in sports sustainability, and although the Green Sports Alliance exists and has numerous resources to help NFL teams become more sustainable, little action has been taken by a majority of teams…”

Skoch’s final recommendations for the Browns focused on fully integrating sustainability into each department, branch, division and location within the organization and hiring an individual who would focus on full integration.

“Unfortunately, for now, like most NFL teams, they will continue to grab the ‘low hanging’ fruit,” she says. “However, I believe that eventually all national sports teams and leagues will be required to meet set environmental impact reduction goals in the very near future.”

Skoch is the the sixth UW-Green Bay graduate out of about 50 enrollees in the relatively new Sustainability Management program. Five University of Wisconsin system institutions carry the program. So how did Skoch find her way specifically to UW-Green Bay?

“I found the UW Sustainable Management Master’s program through a simple online search,” she says. “At the time, I was interested in pursuing a higher degree in the sustainability field, and my undergraduate studies focused on the environmental impacts of business. Therefore, UW’s program was perfect. I also liked that the degree is a master of science rather than a simple one-year MBA and the fact that it was catered to business professionals. After researching the UW Sustainable Management program’s campuses it was easy to see I fit in best at Green Bay!”

Skoch said her faculty member of expertise — UW-Green Bay Professor John Katers — was integral to her success. Working with Prof. Katers quickly dispelled the myth regarding ‘detachment’ of online programs.

“I knew I chose the right campus once I got the opportunity to communicate with him,” she said. “Dr. Katers is always quick to respond and help out in any way. His experience and expertise in a variety of fields helped me tackle a number of issues as I worked through the program. Furthermore, the other faculty members in the program were always willing to assist in any way possible. I think that online education has a sort of bad-reputation for being ‘detached’ from the student, but my experience was the exact opposite. Each of the instructors in the program were quick to respond and were able to help me further understand topics that I, personally, was not knowledgeable on.

“I truly enjoyed the program. It touched on all aspects of sustainability as well as the triple bottom line. Therefore, it was more of a hybrid education than a one-sided program. I also enjoyed the science aspects of the program, as I believe that any sustainability business professional must have a thorough understanding of the science behind environmental impacts.”

While in the program, Skoch took advantage of taking elective credits in a faculty-led travel course to Chile. It was the first time Skoch would meet Prof. Katers in person. What ensued was a 16-day whirlwind sustainable learning opportunity and South American adventure which Skoch describes as “incredible” and “an experience of a lifetime.”

“I truly fell in love with South America and I learned so much about the culture and the environmental issues facing the country today,” she said. “Those who I traveled with became life-long friends, too, especially those who traveled to Easter Island with me. The Chile trip helped truly solidify my path as well, as it opened my eyes to the numerous sustainability and environmental issues the world as a whole faces. I feel that it was an eye-opening experience and it gave me an opportunity to take what I had learned in class and see a real-life example of it.”

As for the future, Skoch said she is looking at a couple of possibilities, including working within governmental agencies or, perhaps pursuing a Ph.D.

“I believe that sustainability or earth sciences and human impacts should be integrated into all science courses and perhaps I can help do just that at the college level.”

Learn more about the University of Wisconsin Sustainable Management degree opportunities by visiting http://sustain.wisconsin.edu/.

Photo by Eric Craver, Outreach and Adult Education

Wilson-Doenges talks psychology of conservation


In celebration of Earth Day, environmental psychologist Georjeanna Wilson-Doenges hosts a two-minute video with some of her students in which they talk about the role of psychology in conservation efforts. The Psychology program has a new course in Conservation Psychology and a new emphasis in Sustainability.

Next NAS seminar highlights ‘Ecological Knowledge in India”


Dr. Baisakhi Bandyopadhyay, a researcher and senior fellow of the government of India, is the next speaker in the UW-Green Bay Natural and Applied Sciences Seminar series at 3 p.m. this Friday (April 17) in Room 301 of the Environmental Sciences Building. Her topic is “The Evolution of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in India: An Overview.” She’ll discuss how ecology is addressed in India’s native communities as something that encompasses several fields including sustainable forest management, biodiversity conservation by sacred groves, sacred landscape and sacred plant species, crop management, farm management, animal management and therapeutic role of Ayurveda. Some traditional ways are seen as having great relevance for sustainable resource management. The program, which is free and open to the public, will be followed by a social at approximately 4 p.m. in ES 317.

Faculty note: Cruz talk on Tena at U of New Mexico

Marcello Cruz, associate professor of Urban and Regional Studies, gave a talk last week at the University of New Mexico on the topic of regional planning and indigenous communities in Ecuador. The talk was titled “Community and Regional Planning in Tena, Ecuador.” The presentation explored how community and regional planning using “agropolitan” approaches can provide an alternative model of community wellbeing that attempts to improve the quality of life focusing on equity, sustainability, and local community decision making among various indigenous communities residing in the region.

Food system activist Gustafson to speak Nov. 4

A sustainable food system activist, author, innovator and social entrepreneur will share her message with the campus community from 7-8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 4 in Phoenix Room B of the University Union. Ellen Gustafson’s First book, We the Eaters: If We Change Dinner, We Can Change the World, was published by Rondale Press in May 2014. She is the co-founder of Food Tank: The Food Think Tank, and founder of a small sustainable home goods company called the Apron Project. Before the launch of Food Tank, Gustafson founded The 30 Project, a campaign that has helped to change the conversation about the global food system by connecting hunger and obesity. She is also the creator of the Change Dinner campaign and HealthClass2.0, which are helping individuals change the food system at dinner tables and in schools. Sponsored by the Office of Student Life.

The bee’s knees: Campus keepers reap sweet rewards with harvest

UW-Green Bay student beekeepersA contingent of UW-Green Bay student beekeepers got to taste the fruits of their labor July 29, harvesting honey from two new hives located near the campus Heating and Cooling Plant Building.

The project is up and running thanks to a new student organization, the GBees, with the hives and their tenants arriving on campus this spring. The student-funded club aims to promote the environmental, biodiversity and local food aspects of beekeeping while drawing attention to the negative implications of declining honeybee numbers across the globe.

The students have gotten a hand in their endeavors from Bill Ahnen, a UW-Green Bay electrician who’s been a beekeeper for about seven years. On July 29, Ahnen took them through the harvest process, which involves removing the honeycomb, scraping off the wax covering on one side of the frame and placing it in an extractor. This centrifuge spins the honey out of the comb before the other side is scraped and extracted. The empty combs are then returned to the hive for the bees to refill.

Led by Ahnen, the student group extracted honey from 20 frames during the harvest, collecting approximately 50 pounds of honey. The beekeepers eventually hope to be able to sell their honey, perhaps alongside the University’s SLO Food Alliance during its summer vegetable sales. For now, it’s providing some industrious students a very sweet reward for their time.

— Photos by Eric Miller, Office of Marketing and University Communication

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