Environmental and Social Sustainability Grants Awarded

UConn Office of Sustainability Awards Environmental and Social Sustainability Grants to Student-Led Projects

Five projects will increase environmental and social sustainability at UConn

Solar panels at Spring Valley Student Farm
Solar panels at UConn’s Spring Valley Student Farm. Thanks to a new small grants fund, students will be working with staff and faculty mentors to complete sustainability projects on UConn campuses. Photo by Spring Valley Student Farm.

UConn, consistently one of the top ten most sustainable universities in the United States, will be getting even better at upholding sustainable practices with the help of five student-led projects that are being initiated this spring.

These innovative projects are funded by the Environmental and Social Sustainability Small Grants Program through the Office of Sustainability at the Institute of the Environment. Creative student-faculty teams applied for funding this past winter to support campus programs that enhance environmental and social sustainability while engaging students and community members. Applicants shared ideas spanning education, research, authentic community engagement, and campus operations. Projects include everything from an ADA-accessible mouldering privy at the Spring Valley Student Farm, to studying how UConn sources food from local farms. “We are thrilled to support a diverse set of student-led initiatives spanning four UConn schools and colleges. Each project will contribute in important ways to continuing to improve the sustainability across many facets of our university,” shares Ashley Helton, associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment.

Five projects were awarded funds due to their interdisciplinary nature and ability to advance sustainability and equity.

  • Farm to Institution Local Food Procurement Study: Working to Highlight Sustainable Options for Students
      • Students: Matt Chen ‘22 (CLAS, CAHNR), Hannah Colonies-Kelley ‘22 (CAHNR)
      • Faculty Mentors: Cristina Connolly, Assistant Professor, Agricultural and Resource Economics
  • Spring Valley Student Farm Privy Project
      • Students: Phoebe Mrozinski ‘22 (CAHNR), Andrew Muller ‘23 (CAHNR), Isaac Betts ‘23 (CAHNR)
      • Staff and Faculty Mentors: Phoebe Godfrey, Associate Professor, Sociology. Jessica Larkin-Wells, Farm Manager, Spring Valley Student Farm
  • UConn Swap Shop
      • Students: Madeline Kizer ‘24 (SOB), Efua Koomson ‘22 (CLAS) and Lyla Andrick ‘24 (CAHNR)
      • Staff Mentors: Megan Baro, Program Assistant for Inclusion & Global Initiatives, Honors Program. Katie Britt, Leadership Programs Coordinator, Werth Institute
  • Solar Photovoltaic Tie-in at Spring Valley Student Farm
      • Students: Rory Monaco ‘23 (CLAS), Zachary Stone ‘22 (SOE)
      • Staff and Faculty Mentors: Ali Bazzi, Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering. Jessica Larkin-Wells, Farm Manager, Spring Valley Student Farm
  • Green Practice and Pedagogy: Enhancing UConn Avery Point’s Sustainability Performance and Programming
    • Students: UConn Avery Point EcoHusky Club, Sakshee Patel ‘24 (SOB), Kelsey DiCesare, Richard Krenitsky ‘22 (CLAS), Ian Bradley ‘22 (CLAS)
    • Faculty Mentors: Syma Ebbin, Associate Professor, Agricultural and Resource Economics

“This innovative program supports entrepreneurial activities by students, who co-design projects with mentors, providing authentic, collaborative experiences that will enrich their education and enhance sustainable practices and social responsibility. Students are making a difference!” says Michael Willig, Executive Director of the Institute of the Environment. 

Students will present their project findings and impacts this fall. “We are all very much excited for this opportunity to support UConn’s mission to enhance environmental and social sustainability on campus! This funding will certainly help us uphold UConn’s values and achieve our vision,” shares Efua Koomson ‘22 (CLAS), a team member on the UConn Swap Shop project and actuarial sciences major. Fellow team member Maeline Kizer, ‘24 (SOB) writes, “This can provide students with so many opportunities and resources.”


For more details on the Environmental and Social Sustainability Small Grants Program, please visit: https://sustainability.uconn.edu/environmental-social-sustainability-small-grants-program/ 

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