Profiles in Sustainability – Julia Steele

     Born and raised in Lawrenceville, Georgia, Ms. Steele works as the Events Coordinator for the Office of Sustainability and has done so for nine months. Her mother hails from South Korea, and she initially taught Ms. Steele about the importance of sustainability. Ms. Steele comments, “From a young age, I learned to never waste food and would often salvage items from my neighbor’s trash on Tuesdays before the trash man would come for pickup.” Living in a war-torn environment, Ms. Steele’s mother could not afford to waste resources and inspired the same sentiment in her daughter. Ms. Steele originally declared her major in nursing, but after being dissuaded by the hospital environment, she decided to change it to environmental science with a minor in public health to help serve the environment and people’s health.

     Ms. Steele states, in regards to her position, that, “My main goal is to primarily educate students about the office’s initiatives through activities, games and guest speakers.” She works to organize events at Georgia College such as Campus Sustainability and Food Day, America’s Recycling Day, and the annual Sustainability Fee Program Symposium. Ms. Steele discusses how she most enjoys the outreach and collaboration she is able to take part in with other departments. Additionally, she states, “I enjoy teaching students about sustainability and learning how to translate scientific information into a diction that non-STEM majors can understand.” However, due to a lack of resources and amenities, the Office of Sustainability is restricted in its ability to fully facilitate composting or recycling. “Asking students to change their habits can be challenging,” Ms. Steele remarks, “[i]t’s difficult to show student the direct impact they have on the environment.” Still, the Office of Sustainability consists of a dedicated team willing to make all the impact that it can. Ms. Steele considers herself very fortunate to be working among such tenacious, hardworking individuals, “I am so grateful to surround myself with dedicated people in OoS [the Office of Sustainability]. Lori Strawder and Kristen Hitchcock are the two people I truly admire, . . . I also love working with motivated colleagues. Kierra Brown, Elizabeth Carroll, Toria Middleton, Lauren Barber, Ryan Agnew, and Jake Dietch are all so eager to make change and willing to help one another around the office.” With such a devoted group, Ms. Steele hopes that the office can see more student involvement as well as sustainability implemented in classroom projects in the future.

     Currently, Ms. Steele believes that the composting initiative is one of the most successful projects that Georgia College has seen. The project has built up steam under manager Jake Dietch, and the project continues to grow while educating students on the importance of recovering waste and replenishing soil with nutrients. Ms. Steele comments that, “We are producing so much compost, and I’d love to see Georgia College giving the compost to local farmers!” She believes this will strengthen ties between the campus and farmers within the area. She also explains how recycling rates at Georgia College continue to rise each year.

     Ms. Steele defines sustainability as, “[being] [M]indful of the human impact on ecosystems, fostering healthy living and acting locally in order to preserve our resources and maintain the integrity of the environment.” She is excited for the implementation of a Campus Kitchen at Georgia College, and she states, “I believe this will have a profound impact, since this is a collaborative project that includes sustainability, dining and the community.”  Ms. Steele also plans to incorporate more collaborative and interdisciplinary programs in order to reach a wider audience of students. For instance, Ms. Steele is currently working with the Art Department to host John Sabraw, a nationally acclaimed artist and environmentalist, at the Sustainability Fee Program symposium. Backed by an ever-growing network of interns and student volunteers, Ms. Steele is poised and ready to advance sustainability efforts at Georgia College and contribute to a global mindfulness of our impact on our world, “My family and friends can all be witnesses of my passion about the health of our environment and determination for future generations to have equal opportunities.”

 

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