Campus sustainability — including programs that encourage sustainable practices — takes root and grows from Director Kelly Wellman’s office.
Texas A&M created the Office of Sustainability in 2008 to provide vision and leadership that encourages sustainable practices across the university. Wellman, Class of 1995, doesn’t define the office’s role as on or off campus, academic or non-academic. Instead, its mission is to support people who want to incorporate sustainable practices into their work and life.
Wellman has said she is particularly proud of her work developing the first Campus Sustainability Master Plan that outlines goals through 2038 and renews the university’s commitment to meeting the needs of the present without compromising the future, according to the Office of Sustainability website.
“Those 16 of our goals aren’t just for the office, they are for the entire college campus,” Wellman said.
Texas A&M University is a charter member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System. Sustainability education, outreach and support is available to students, faculty and staff, Wellman said.
“We have a sustainability internship program where students are getting educational learning opportunities but are also being educated and are responsible for educating their peers about sustainability issues,” Wellman said.
Under Wellman’s tenure, students passed a referendum authorizing creation of the Aggie Green Fund, which provides grants for students, faculty and staff to make environmental improvements to the A&M campus. Around $2.1 million has been awarded to more than 90 projects since the student-administered fund was launched in 2011, according to the Green Fund website.
Projects must directly address sustainability on the A&M campus, may not primarily address research aims, and must include publicity, education and outreach, according to the website.
The Office of Sustainability also has a YouTube channel that provides helpful tips on implementing more environmentally-conscious behaviors into daily life.
“We have a short video on how each individual Aggie can make sustainability behaviors throughout each day,” Wellman said. “For instance, using refillable water bottles, using mass transportation instead of taking single-use occupancy vehicles.”
Wellman said anyone who sees a need on campus should apply for the Aggie Green Fund to make real changes.
“Being a part of our internship program, being a part of environmentally and socially responsible organizations on campus is one way for students to be really involved in advancing sustainability,” Wellman said.
This story is a collaboration between The Battalion and upperclassmen in Texas A&M's journalism degree. To see the online copy of the Climate Change extra print edition, click here.