university of mississippi

The Importance of Connecting with Like-Minded Individuals

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As y’all know, I was selected as an Eco Rep Leader at my university.  Yesterday was our official training for the year.  We had our training at Strawberry Plains Audubon Center.

I had only been there once and it was for their well-known Hummingbird Festival.

The center is one of Mississippi’s finest yet lesser known treasures.  With a love of nature and hope for the future, two sisters,  entrusted their home and property to The National Audubon Society. Since then, the Audubon Society has worked on restoring and conserving the 3,000 acres of hardwood forests, wetlands and native grasslands managed by Strawberry Plains.

Basically, we were at an excellent location to discuss sustainability and environmentalism!

 

What is…

Eco-reps-logo-green-largerThe first task we had was ensuring that we have some common ground when it comes to defining the important words.

 

Sustainability?

The Office of Sustainability on campus has their own definition of sustainability.  They define it as

Sustainability is a multi-disciplinary, problem-solving approach to creating a social system that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations or the needs of the ecological systems in which humans exist.

But we all got to pitch in!  We knew we wanted to not waste unnecessarily and do the best we could, but it was difficult to create a concrete definition.

We realized we all had different backgrounds just as the fellow students we will be spreading our ideas to.

Some of us felt we should push renewable energy or recycling or vegetarianism or composting or all of the above!  Everyone was so passionate and it felt so good, but we realized the way to reach people is to find which way of moving towards sustainability is the most attainable for them.

a Change Agent?

I still have not mastered a good definition of this term, but I did learn some attributes and skills required for one to be a change agent.

What popped out to me during this portion of the discussion, was the stark difference between introverts and extroverts.  Some people wanted us to all be loud and proud, whereas some believed we should be calm and collected instead of overwhelming.  Of course, both have their place.

Experienced Change Agents know when to speak up and when to listen up.  They also can stay motivated even if a task feels impossible.

Change Agents must be understanding; not everyone can (or should) change their lives over night.  We need to be able to meet people where they are and not make them feel better for the speed of their change.  Small positive actions are not negative; they are still positive!

the Big Deal?

The experience of meeting with my fellow Eco Rep Leaders for this school year, was eye opening.  A lot of people have tried to silence me when it comes to standing up for environmentalism.  I understand now more than ever that allies are a blessing and you don’t have to fight alone.


How do you plan on connecting with like-minded people either in your area or online?  If you don’t know where to start, I can be your first ally in your environmentalism journey!

I’m an Eco Rep!!!

This coming year I’m going to be an Eco Rep at my university through our Office of Sustainability. The mission of the Eco Reps program is to effectively educate and empower students within their residential communities to act as environmental stewards, while simultaneously providing opportunities for involvement in campus sustainability. The Eco Reps program is interested in investing in our most valuable resource for positive cultural change: our students.

Through this program, I’m going to:

  • Learn about sustainability and environmental issues (I definitely do this already, but I’ll have a group to do it with!)
  • Conduct sustainability-related outreach and plan and promote educational sustainability-related programming
  • Engage peers in creating a sustainable community within the residence hall and connect students to important resources on campus
  • Create important mentor-mentee relationships with residential students, many of whom are freshmen, transfer students, or international students.
  • Collect concerns and questions regarding resource management and conservation issues on campus
  • Directly improve the Ole Miss community by increasing environmental awareness and generating a sense of community around environmental stewardship

I am really excited and so thankful for this opportunity!  I am counting on you guys to give me any advice you may have!  Have any of y’all participated in a similar program? Or wished you could have?  Let me know! 🙂