At one college, hands-on training contributes to a sustainable community.

Creating a sustainable culture

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

At one college, hands-on training contributes to a sustainable community.

For Lewis & Clark Community College (L&C) in Illinois, sustainability is part of the culture. Over the last decade, L&C has reduced its electricity consumption and emissions. The college also is pursuing a 50-year Climate Action Plan goal of campus carbon neutrality by 2058. And information about the college’s sustainability efforts are posted on the front page of L&C’s website.

L&C’s Restoration Ecology degree program also stands out. Students in the program learn to repair damaged land, habitat and ecosystems, and to manage these sustainable environments. The program helps meet the growing need for training in restorative ecology in natural areas, wetlands and urban environments. The entire community is benefiting from the program, as it works to protect the college’s own watershed by designing and installing projects on campus to restore vital ecosystem services.

The Restoration Ecology program is enhanced through collaboration with local and regional industry partners to align curriculum with industry needs. Local non-profit and government entities help to generate hands-on projects and workshops for students.

Other green projects at L&C include installing more than 100 kw of solar at two campuses, implementing recycling and composting programs, instituting a student green commuting incentive program, installing electric vehicle charging stations and completing large-scale indoor efficiency projects for lights and motors.

“Sustainability is a vital component of Lewis and Clark Community College’s mission of ‘Empowering people,’” Nate Keener, L&C director of sustainability, said. “Situated at the confluence of three large rivers that serve as a flyway for 60 percent of the birds in North America, and as the Village of Godfrey’s largest employer, it is our duty to incorporate sustainability into our DNA. People look to us to train the workers of the future, and that involves teaching the importance of natural systems like our rivers. We cherish our role as a sustainability leader, and will continue to strive to make the world a better place.”

The college recently was selected as the American Association of Community College’s Sustainability Education & Economic Development (SEED) Green Genome Overall Award winner. Along with the award comes $10,000 in prize money, which will help L&C purchase green roof materials and native plants for the installation of a bioswale near a campus parking lot.

Eight other colleges were selected to receive Green Genome Awards in four categories (Governance, Program Design and Delivery, Strategic Partnerships, and Community Engagement):

  • College of Lake County, IL – Governance
  • Northeast Community College, NE – Governance
  • Johnson County Community College, KS – Program Design and Delivery
  • Northeast Texas Community College, TX – Program Design and Delivery
  • Chesapeake College, MD – Strategic Partnerships
  • Guam Community College, Guam – Strategic Partnerships
  • Cedar Valley College, TX – Community Engagement
  • Lincoln Land Community College, IL – Community Engagement

The Green Genome Awards are funded by The Kresge Foundation.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.