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The Green Team

By Manuel Guerrero
Burrowing Owls Living on Campus

On a campus where students are constantly rushing from class to class, the efforts of people who keep the school environmentally friendly can get lost.

Estrella Mountain Community College’s (EMCC) Sustainability Team, co-chaired by Eric Huntsinger and Nadine Johnson, is responsible for finding ways to make the campus “greener.”

“The mission of the EMCC Sustainability Team is to promote environmental, economic, and social responsibility by providing advocacy, education, activities, and recommendations to students, faculty, staff and the surrounding communities,” explained Huntsinger.

The teammates have been vitally important in making the Sustainability Team into what it is today. They helped develop the organizational structure of the team and have co-chaired all its efforts since the inception in August of 2009. Both Huntsinger and Johnson each spend several hours a week on various projects and meet once a month to update the team on everyone’s progress. 

One project this past spring consisted of developing a plan to protect two burrowing owls that had been found in an area that is designated for construction of the new Performing Arts building. According to Johnson, the goal was not only to save the two owls, but hopefully to make the EMCC campus an ideal environment to house dozens more. 

Currently, the team is are also working on a Sustainability Tracking and Rating System report, which will be published in January 2014, and focuses on reducing the school’s carbon emission footprint. This reduction is a requirement for each college within the Maricopa Community College District.

“It is the responsibility of community colleges and universities to inform and educate our future generations,” said Huntsinger. He then added, “It is important for campuses to respond to environmental pressures and find new and innovative ways to help mitigate environmental issues.”

Huntsinger, an economics professor, and Johnson, a curriculum technician, continue to work hard after their “day jobs” on campus to help EMCC be a “greener” place for students to learn. Much of their effort allows students to stop and smell the desert plants around campus.

For more information on the Sustainability Team and how to get involved, please visit: http://www.estrellamountain.edu/sustainability/team