Student Leadership in Sustainability

At sustainableUTAH we want to promote student voices and experience. This is the future of sustainability. Allison Boyer is an undergraduate student leading the Sustainability Board for ASUU at the University of Utah. She spreads awareness and opportunities to her fellow students. This is her story.

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The packed Rice Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah.

Hello, fellow tree huggers (I make this assumption, if you’ve found yourself reading my two cents on this wonderful blog). My name is Allison Boyer and I am an Environmental and Sustainability Studies student at the University of Utah. I have had the pleasure of working on the Associated Students of the University of Utah’s Sustainability Board as well as working very closely with various sustainability-minded folk on campus for the last three years. My love for the environment and the outdoors has been relevant throughout my whole life, from the time I was a little girl climbing trees to a week ago when I was recycling at the last University of Utah home football game. I hadn’t always planned on pursuing a career in the environmental field. When I was younger I wanted to ride motorcycles and be a tattoo artist. Fortunately for me (because I really have no drawing skills), I found out my true passion while riding at Utah’s very own Snowbasin Ski Resort.

Snowbasin has been my home resort since I started skiing at age five and took on the necessary evil of snowboarding at 14. When I was 16 I purchased my first iPod, loaded it with as much Modest Mouse and Sigur Ros as I could find, and hopped on the gondola for the first powder day that season. This season brought me to the realization that the environment I had come to know and love was in great peril. I went through the motions of watching An Inconvenient Truth, researching, and observing my world to try and grasp the importance of the natural environment. The environment transcends everything in this life: food, shelter, art, recreation, and so many other things integral to our livelihood as a human race. Why has there not been a massive movement to protect it? Why, as humans who are a part of this world, have we been so destructive to our only true home?

High school didn’t provide many options aside from activism and awareness, but this was something that I wanted to have an active role in improving. When I moved to Salt Lake for college I immediately started to study policy and science. I engaged with student groups pertinent to my interests in trees, recycling, and the natural world. All these things strengthened my passion and activism for Mother Earth and helped me find my way to the Recycle Rice-Eccles program through the ASUU Sustainability Board.

When I was a Freshman the program was nothing but red tape, endless petitions, and futile attempts at talking to fans as they entered the stadium. Last year, thanks to Seth Crossley’s vision of the program, it grew into a united force of over 250 volunteers and 19,000 pounds of recyclables successfully diverted from going to the landfill. This year I have taken the program under my wing and it has improved immensely in numbers, awareness, and education of football fans and students.

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Recycle Rice Eccles volunteers, proud of their work.

The job isn’t always a walk in the park. I have spent countless hours alongside volunteers digging things that fans have deemed recyclable – only to find everything from discarded hamburgers to rotisserie chicken bones and a broken flip-flop. After a certain point of inebriation, it’s what I have come to expect from tailgaters and fans. This is not to say the green police haven’t made any progress. There are plenty of fans who know us by name and make a calculated effort to recycle the multitude of aluminum and glass beverage containers they have gone through during the day. I am proud to say that the Green Team and the legendary green men have become a permanent fixture in the University’s mission in sustainability.

So where does one go from here? My work certainly isn’t over. I’m constantly making improvements to my programing around campus and creating more opportunities for students to learn and engage in sustainability. I will keep working to leave this world a better place than when I arrived.

Thank you for taking the time to learn about my involvement and passion. Please pass this blog on to a friend so we can continue our advocacy and outreach. I also invite any U students to attend my weekly meetings or to contact me at aboyer@asuu.utah.edu with any questions you have.

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