The Associated Students of The University of Arizona's Sustainability Program has several "shovel-ready" campus projects for students this year, ranging from solar powered rooftops to gardening and composting. There's even room for students to pursue their own startup ideas.
Besides learning how to live greener, Lesley Ash, the ASUA sustainability director, said there's also another reward for getting involved.
Last year's sustainability program was entirely volunteer driven. This year, students are interns, meaning there is course credit at the end, said Ash, a veterinary sciences senior.
The course is listed under the program in educational leadership in the UA College of Education, or through independent study classes in other departments across campus.
More urgently, Ash also said the deadline to sign up is Monday, Aug. 31.
The program's Compost Go-Live project started last year. While state budget cuts nearly killed it, Ash said the Sustainability Program is pursuing sponsorships to get it off the ground.
UA Students in Free Enterprise, SIFE, is handling budgeting and marketing, as well as the process of finding corporate sponsors.
The money the program raises will be used to purchase the machinery and solar array needed to turn food waste into compost.
Once it's going, Ash said the project will start with processing "pre-consumer food waste" and move later to "post-consumer waste and equine manure" collected from the Campus Agricultural Center at Campbell Avenue and River Road.
The project will be based at the UA West Agriculture Center near Interstate 10 and Grant Road.
Ash said students will help to evaluate companies bidding on the composting machinery, work with faculty on their grants, develop logistical plans for promoting the program once it goes live and get involved in the scientific background research and hands-on testing of compost samples.
"I'm quite optimistic about the future of the program," Ash said. I'd like to see the program started before May, by the time I graduate from the University in May. I'd really like to leave it on a solid foundation."
The Sustainability Project also is collaborating with another club on campus, PSPSP, the Posada-San Pedro Solar Powered, on a solar-powered co-generating system to generate electricity and hot water in one system.
"We actually have funds for this project, so it's very likely to happen this year," Ash said.
That includes $50,000 secured from student fees. Students would be involved in research guided by faculty, and will work with Residence Life and Facilities Management.
Still another effort, the Garden in the Desert project, has a goal to create both a community garden off campus and a demonstration garden on campus. Ash said students who participate would be able to have their own garden plot. The off-campus site would offer larger plots.
ASUA also has a SAGE Fund, a newly-created program established to encourage student-developed sustainability projects.
The fund would provide seed money through project grants and loans for projects that reduce the UA's ecological footprint and spread awareness about environmental issues and their possible solutions.