We Mean Green Fund takes students' ideas and makes them reality
When Morgan Kuster, a senior fiber studio art major, attended a workshop about natural dyes as a UNT junior, she had no idea that she would one day play an active role in UNT's natural dye garden project. At the workshop, she learned how onion skins and rosemary can be used for natural dye. She knew natural dyes could be beneficial for UNT art students, but she wasn't sure how to make them accessible.
Later on in the workshop, a representative from UNT Sustainability suggested to those attending that a natural dye garden would be a great asset to the UNT campus. Kuster was encouraged to fill out a proposal and submit it to the We Mean Green Fund Committee.
With a lot of long hours and hard work, Kuster put together a proposal and submitted it to the committee for approval. Now as a senior, she is able to see her dye garden proposal come to life. The garden officially opened this month.
"I really wanted to educate people on campus about sustainability and art," Kuster says. "I hope the garden shows people how these can be implemented into their daily lives."
We Mean Green Fund helps students' dreams come true
Lauren Helixon, Assistant Director for UNT Sustainability and We Mean Green Fund coordinator, says the goal of the We Mean Green Fund Committee is to help fund sustainability initiatives. The committee, which is made up of student, faculty and staff volunteers, has helped students in addition to Kuster bring their ideas for sustainability to fruition.
Passed in 2010 by students in a special election during Earth Week, the We Mean Green Fund is a $5.00 per long-semester fee that funds green project ideas from students, faculty and staff. So far, the WMGF has given financial support for these UNT green projects:
- Water filtration systems
- Electric vehicle stations
- Recycling Containers
- Dye Garden
- Tree Plantings
- Bike Sharing Program
- Recycling at Tailgating
"This is the only student fee that students can actively participate in," Helixon says. "They get to dictate how their money will be spent and leave a lasting legacy at UNT."
We Mean Green Fund Committee gives students real world experience
As chair of the WMGFC, Alyssa Wolverton, integrative studies major, has gained valuable hands-on experience that will help her with her goal of working for a nonprofit organization in the future. Her position on the committee has not only taught her how to deal with different personalities, but it has also shown her how projects are funded via a committee process.
"I really want to help people," Wolverton says. "The world's environmental and economic issues are becoming increasingly problematic, and I want to help solve some of these issues."
Wolverton is planting her first seeds of change here at UNT. She has helped improve the sustainability on campus by advocating on behalf of the committee to students. She says she tries to bring up the committee in conversation every chance she gets.
"It's an unknown resource on campus that not a lot of people know about," Wolverton says. "I make it a point to tell anyone and everyone I know about it."
Wolverton wants other students to know that this fund is available to them so they will feel comfortable bringing their green project ideas to the table.
"The committee fosters stewardship of the environment on campus," Wolverston says. "Participating in project ideas can bring happiness and self-worth to students because it shows them that they are part of something larger than themselves."
Looking towards the future
Brandon Zitar, Ph.D. student in political theory, works as a graduate assistant for UNT Sustainability, and he researches the project proposal ideas for the WMGF.
"I enjoy helping students who have an idea by showing them how to put it together in a proposal," Zitar says. "It's a good feeling to see the end product of their work."
Zitar says there are a lot of good proposals approaching. One of the major projects he is helping to get off the ground is a project directed at replacing the environmentally and economically impractical paper towels used in the restrooms with more sanitary and efficient Dyson hand dryers. Other proposal ideas that are in the works include solar-powered picnic tables, a bike rental service and a rain harvesting system for the natural dye garden.
Zitar says he would like to see more students submit proposals. His hope is to see the culture of the campus change so that all students are aware that they can play a part in making UNT green-friendly.
"I hope to see a positive change happen on campus," Zitar says. "I want to help develop a culture of environmental stewardship at UNT."