Guest speaker talks about promoting Sustainability at VGCC
An expert from the National Wildlife Federation who helps educational institutions go “green” visited Vance-Granville Community College on Nov. 17 to talk with faculty, staff and students. Carly Queen, Southeast regional campus field coordinator for the NWF Campus Ecology program, was the special guest in the final installment of a series of three “lunch and learn” sessions organized by the VGCC Sustainability Committee during the fall 2011 semester. The sessions, which also included presentations by VGCC Automotive Systems Technology program head Fred Brewer and Carpentry program head Keith Tunstall, were part of a college-wide focus on conservation and staying up-to-date with the latest economic and environmental trends. Among other initiatives, VGCC now offers a certificate in Sustainability Technologies .
VGCC Biology instructor Dr. Dan Settles, chairman of the Sustainability Committee, introduced Queen as a North Carolina native who studied mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech, where she started “Students Organizing for Sustainability.” She called her presentation at VGCC “The Campus as a Sustainable Learning Laboratory.” Queen began by noting that sustainability is beneficial for the facilities at any college, as research has shown that “green” buildings are related to wellness and productivity for students and employees. But Queen advocated that sustainability should go beyond the internal college practices on campus to workforce development efforts that can benefit the entire community around a college. “A campus is a small community, so it can be a good training ground for sustainable practices that can then also be applied to larger communities,” Queen said. “A community college may even have an advantage over four-year universities, because students here have more opportunities for hands-on learning.” She noted projects at other community colleges, from biofuel production to rainwater collection, which have saved money for the college while also serving as teaching tools. Queen said that community colleges can “engage students in experiential learning off-campus.” Potential projects could include doing energy audits for buildings in the community, helping on weatherization of homes and planting trees.
“A community college can support the local green economy,” Queen said. “You can encourage your communities to learn and develop new capabilities that save local businesses money. Also, your graduates go out into the community using sustainable skills and practices in their businesses. This can have a ‘snowball’ effect and lead to more demand by local students for sustainability training, which can lead to more jobs.”
Queen noted that she is involved in the Greenforce Initiative , a partnership of the NWF and Jobs for the Future, which seeks to strengthen the capacity of community colleges to develop, enhance or refine green career pathway programs in six states, including North Carolina.
Above: Carly Queen (left) talks with VGCC faculty, staff and students on the college’s main campus on Nov. 17. (VGCC photo)