Each month, the Lehigh Sustainability Council (LSC) administers Sustainable Initiative Grants to fund student-proposed sustainability projects.
Formerly known as the GreenFund, the group awards grants to motivate more students, faculty and staff to generate ideas and transform them into reality. One-time grants of up to $2,000 are awarded.
“This is money that could be used to help students get a really substantial product off the ground that could benefit the university and the community,” said Andrew Januszak, a senior computing consultant at Library and Technology Services and the LTS representative for the Lehigh Sustainability Council.
The Lehigh Sustainability Council realizes there’s more that can be done to raise student awareness of opportunities. In addition to renaming the grant, the council rebranded with new logos and increased marketing plans with the hope that its mission would become more well-known on campus.
Januszak works within the council on the Sustainable Initiative Grant. Together, the committee reviews grant applications and makes its bylaws.
Januszak said the committee has a standard process in which members review grant applications. Within each application, students must demonstrate a number of characteristics their project will accomplish.
The application requires a collaborative element between students and faculty or staff. A successful application must be innovative and include a means of measuring outcomes and incorporating publicity and outreach.
The Beekeeping Club formed after receiving a Sustainable Initiative Grant.
The group used the funding to buy equipment and hives for members to maintain and harvest. The group applied for a second grant, and the committee determined the initiative such a success that the club was rewarded with funds to purchase a streaming camera to be placed in the beehives so that the bees could be monitored online at any time.
During weekly meetings, the club takes part in hive inspections on Mountaintop Campus and harvests honey, feeds the bees and makes sure the system is operating properly.
Right now, the club has two hives: one on Mountaintop and one on Goodman Campus. Abi Betancourt, ’20, said the Mountaintop hive is home to nearly 80,000 bees.
Betancourt is the marketing chair for the club and has been a member since her first year at Lehigh.
“I love the club because I feel like I’m learning a completely new skill that’s so unpredictable, so a lot of the time we have to adapt for the bees and figure out our next steps,” Betancourt said. “It’s a great learning experience and an amazing way to step away from the stress at Lehigh and focus on something so natural and beautiful.”
The LSC as a whole functions as both a faculty and student-run group. Within the council, there are four sub-committees, focused around operations, education, communications and the grant. Each is comprised of faculty representatives who possess skills relevant to each of these categories, said Lehigh’s Sustainability Officer Delicia Nahman.
In total, the LSC is comprised of six faculty members and two student representatives. The two student representative positions are filled by one graduate student and one undergraduate, as well as representatives from the Office of Sustainability.
Nahman sits on the LSC and plays a role in reporting goals from the office to the council in order to spread its message and goals around campus.
“We have people from every part of campus represented and here we are in one room, sharing what their stem and their college is doing and exchanging information,” Nahman said. “You don’t really see that done anywhere else on campus.”