Graham Sustainability Institute

U-M Recruiting for 2012-2013 Planet Blue Student Ambassadors

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Planet Blue Ambassador Program is seeking Student Leaders for the 2012-2013 Academic Year.

Now it its second year, this unique program trains and empowers undergraduate students who will be living in a residence hall or campus apartment to serve as environmental stewards and sustainability leaders on campus—and to earn one credit in the process.  Applications from incoming first-year students are due by August 1, 2012. (Applications from sophomores, juniors, and seniors were due April 10, 2012.)

There are two core aspects of the Planet Blue Student Ambassador Program: education and service. All students who are accepted into the program (limited to 15 returning students and 15 new students) are required to take a one-credit course called Planet Blue Ambassadors Training & Assessment each semester. Students also dedicate three to five hours per week to directly engaging with their peers in the residence halls about how to live more sustainably.

Grace Lieb, who is working toward a B.S. in Earth and Environmental Science, serves as a Planet Blue Student Ambassador this academic year. Through her involvement in the program, and two corresponding one-credit courses, she was instrumental in having a water bottle refill station installed in Bursley Hall, in having the heat reduced in her hall to save energy, and in pursuing trayless dining to reduce food waste.

“The Planet Blue Student Ambassador Program was a stepping stone for accomplishing things I never thought were possible before,” Grace says. “As an Ambassador, my idea of reducing food waste and going trayless was received by faculty and staff with open arms. Everyone rooted for me to make it happen and went out of their way to help me accomplish just that goal.”

Because of the impact of her experience, Grace will be serving as the student coordinator for the program next academic year.

“The Planet Blue Ambassador program gives you a voice and an outlet to accomplish virtually anything on campus—and the help and sense of community you get in the process is incredible,” Grace stated. “I strongly encourage all students in campus housing students to apply.” 

Biochemistry student Ben Maynard agrees that being an Ambassador is an engaging and empowering experience.

“I really appreciate how the Planet Blue Ambassador Program allows us to have a hands-on experience of promoting sustainability in our residence halls—and gives us the independence and resources to pursue our own ideas,” he says. “Jumping head first into an environmental awareness project illustrates the difficulties, methods and, in the end, glorious small successes that come with initiating behavior change.”

Graham Institute Education Director Mike Shriberg, who helps coordinate the training and assessment course, elaborates on what students both gain and contribute as Planet Blue Ambassadors.

“This class builds the leadership, organization, and communication skills necessary to have a positive impact on sustainability at U-M,” he says.

“The Ambassadors have done some pretty amazing things, engaging in everything from sustainability learning circles to personal sustainability pledges to holiday re-gifting and wrapping parties,” Shriberg continues. “As a team, they created Project Green Room, an online tool where students can certify that their rooms are ‘green.’ They are also leading the Recyclemania competition in residence halls.”

Planet Blue Student Coordinator Grace Lieb says that the program is ideal for students who are passionate about sustainability—and who want to take action. . 

“You must continue pushing for causes you are passionate about and carry out the legacy of change, one step at a time,” says Grace Lieb. “That’s exactly what the Ambassador program is all about.”

For more information—and a link to the online application—please visit the student “Get Involved” page on the U-M Planet Blue website at www.sustainability.umich.edu

NOTE: Those who apply and are accepted to the current Planet Blue Ambassador Program will be specially trained "Student Leaders" for the program. Watch for news during the academic year for a new, non-credit online education and awareness tool,  through which even more students may become "Ambassadors" on campus.