SPEA’s Sustainable Development Association

Student organizations have been an important part of my time at SPEA. Last year, I joined both the Sustainable Development Association (SDA) and the Environmental Management Association. With the two groups, I helped coordinate a fundraiser for the Nature Conservancy and write a funding proposal for composting bins in SPEA. This year, I’m helping with more of the administrative tasks in my role on SDA’s Executive Team.

When we polled SDA members at the beginning of the year, we found that our members’ #1 priority is gaining resume-worthy skills outside of the classroom. So this year, SDA events will emphasize job skills and gathering some good advice about career and internship opportunities.

With that in mind, we hosted a lunchtime Introduction to LEED Certification last week. We invited two local LEED professionals to speak to us about the LEED process, the local US Green Building Council chapter, and recent efforts to certify Bloomington City Hall as a LEED building. Ten SDA members attended the session – for which the Office of Career Services provided a conference room and cookies! – and learned about how LEED certification might factor into our public service work. A few students have since decided to pursue LEED certification, so SDA is considering applying for funding to help cover the cost of books and study materials for those students.

Another project we’re initiating is a consulting partnership with local businesses. Here’s the idea: interested SDA members will be paired with a local business or organization that needs short-term research, promotion, or implementation of a sustainable idea for their project. The partner will get (free) SPEA grad student assistance while the student gains a few hours of meaningful experience. To identify potential partnerships, several SDA members and I attended Bloomington’s September and October “Green Drinks” networking events. I introduced our organization and our consulting idea, and I felt very encouraged that more than ten community members approached me afterward to share ideas about how we might work together!

The other SDA project that I’m really excited about is a speaker series that we plan to co-host with the Environmental Management Association. We will invite faculty, students and community members to participate in weekly or bi-weekly panel discussions, lectures and workshops. Several SDA and EMA members have formed a team to organize this series.

I’ve really enjoyed my work with SDA. It’s been a great way to get involved with SPEA beyond my specific classes, and I think we’re helping other students learn something valuable for the future work in sustainability. Hopefully when you come to SPEA, you’ll find an organization that inspires you just as much!

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