Meet the 2016-17 EcoReps

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Gennifer Geer

This fall, fifteen students joined the sustainability office as EcoReps. These environmental leaders work on educating the student body about sustainability and green living, as well as act as liaisons between their residential colleges and the sustainability office.

Senior Conrado Asenjo-Molina is Rice’s Head EcoRep. Hailing from Hanszen College, he manages the other EcoReps and plans to make the EcoRep program better known across campus. He also wants to raise awareness of the positive impact a sustainable lifestyle can make, as well as make this year’s Green Dorm Initiative the biggest one yet. The EcoRep program offered Conrado the chance to keep working on sustainability issues, drawing from his experiences earning awards from representing Puerto Rico at international science fairs in high school. He’s also in the Rice Environmental Society and Rice Entrepreneurship Club, and he serves as Hanszen College Historian and Diversity Coordinator this year. Conrado enjoys travelling, both in Texas and out, and writing, posting about inspiration and travel.

An EcoRep from Hanszen College, junior Monica Julian aims to update Hanszen’s facilities to improve energy consumption and to amp up recycling. She decided to become an EcoRep because she wants to do her part to help the environment. Outside of class, she encourages her friends by attending their performances and sports games and spending time with them. She also enjoys baking.

With plans to improve everything from O-Week to the Green Dorm Initiative, Baker College EcoRep Travis Kwee wants to make all aspects of students’ lives more sustainable. He aims to bring a composting bin to Baker to feed the garden there, and he runs the Food Waste Reduction Competition to change students’ attitudes about the environment. Travis, a junior, values being an EcoRep because the program provides funding for projects, so he can jump into action instead of spending time fundraising. Heavily involved in making Rice a greener place, Travis is involved in Rice Environmental Club, Environmental Society, Rice University Biodiesel Initiative, Brown Social Concerns: Environmental Committee, and Baker’s Environmental Committee. In his free time, Travis loves baking, camping, hosting board game nights, and playing badminton. He sees cooking for his friends as a great way to introduce them to good vegetarian food.

Also an EcoRep from Baker, sophomore Rebekah Bryant wants to expand the greenware program, a project where each college has a communal set of reusable plates, cups, and bowls to use at college events. For her own college, Rebekah is working to provide alternatives to paper towels in communal spaces and expanding Baker’s green space, as well as a couple other ideas. She wanted to be an EcoRep because the program allows students to make lasting change to make their colleges greener. She also likes how it helps the colleges collaborate their environmentally friendly efforts. Not just an EcoRep, Rebekah also contributes to campus sustainability by serving on Baker’s Environmental Committee and as treasurer for Rice Environmental Club. For fun, she likes to read, bake, hang out with friends, and scrapbook about it all.

The only freshman on the team, Grace Wickerson from Brown College is excited to get involved in the sustainability community at Rice and Brown. She aims to get more vegan options at North Servery and revamp Brown’s recycling and composting systems. Grace felt the opportunity to work on environmental projects with funding was too valuable to pass up, and she started noting what to change during O-Week. Already involved in several clubs across campus, Grace is a member of Brown’s Social Concerns Committee, on the SA Environmental Committee as an New Student Representative, and a member of Environmental Club. Outside of those, she likes to play ukulele, play video games, and watch cheesy movies on Netflix.

A representative of the “greenest college”, sophomore Neha Goel will work to reduce use of non-recyclable Red Solo cups, plants more flowers and vegetables on the fifth-floor sundeck, and host a green-themed Friday in the Quad at Duncan College. She got involved as an EcoRep because of Duncan’s eco-friendly reputation, and she plans to use her leadership position to boost sustainability there. Outside of Duncan, Neha is secretary for Rice’s Environmental Club and loves to spend time outdoors, running or biking. She even works at the Outdoor Center in the recreation center.

Working with her fellow co-EcoRep, senior Cassidy Kempf wants to improve the environmental awareness of Jones College members. They plan on showing environmental documentaries in Jones’ movie room and bringing food from Rice’s farmers market in order to get people excited about both local foods and environmental problems. Cassidy believes the EcoRep program is a great way to empower students to make eco-friendly changes to their lives and to their colleges. She also likes to travel and do other nature-related activities.

To add onto those goals, senior Meredith Glaubach wants to replace Solo Cups on Jones’ “party floor” with reusable cups. She’s already begun working with Rice Housing and Dining to get local food labeled at the serveries, another project she wants to see implemented campus-wide to highlight the story of where students’ food comes from. Meredith became an EcoRep to make more substantive changes like that one. As co-president of the Queer Resource Center, she’s incorporated sustainability into queer- and feminism-focused events, such as a food politics class, fundraisers for printing magazines, and an environmental thinking workshop. For fun, she enjoys cooking, watching movies, and going to poetry readings.

Hoping to make a lasting impact on both his college and Rice University, Lovett College co-EcoRep Zack Draper wants to work on simple improvements such as proper disposal of batteries and e-waste. His larger projects include installing LED lights and other energy-reducing actions. Zack, a junior, is excited to promote and institute servery greenware at Lovett similar to Baker College’s program. For fun, he likes to run outside and spend time with his friends.

Junior Max Ronkos is excited to implement changes around Lovett College to improve its environmental standing. He plans to switch all the lights in the commons to LEDs and start a composting program campus-wide. Seeing the EcoRep program as a great opportunity, Max is looking to draw attention to environmental issues on campus. He’s also a member of the Rice Urban Agriculture Club, where he works in the community gardens, and the Rice Cycling and Triathlon Club. Capitalizing on time spent outdoors, Max cycles around Houston, goes hiking, and goes swimming in his free time.

Sophia Erhard, EcoRep from Martel College, will work on environmental issues with Dr. Joe Novak to spearhead a community garden at Martel. She also is working to get more use out of reusable cutlery and food-ware at college events. Due to the individual personalities and designs of each college, Sophia, a junior, believes the EcoReps play a large role in making their respective colleges mores eco-friendly. She’s also involved with Rice Urban Agriculture, Rice Environmental Club, and Rice Urbanists.

As EcoRep from McMurtry College, junior Laura Nicholson also has plans to improve her LEED-certified college, including bringing compostable utensils to the servery, updating lighting around the college, and spreading awareness of environmental issues. She’d like more college members to realize the benefits of reducing meat consumption and is looking at installing a solar charger in the quad. An enthusiast for all things environmental, Laura supports green clubs on campus and is co-head of McMurtry’s environmental committee. She loves going on “outdoorsy” adventures to showcase her love of the environment.

Sophomore Claire Weddle’s goals for the year include improving recycling education at Sid Richardson College and starting a community or balcony garden. She first was involved in green programs at Rice by participating in the Green Dorm Initiative last spring, then recognizing the environmental impact she can have with small daily actions. Ultimately, she’d like to leave a smaller carbon footprint and help other college members do the same. Claire also owns a business making jewelry and silk knotting with beads, which she likes to make outside.

Focusing her efforts on wasteful consumption and the environmental impact off it, senior Meagan Dwyer wants to encourage mindfulness of environmental issues at Wiess College. She’d also like to reduce disposable paper and plastic usage the college wastes at various events. An employee at Rice Coffeehouse, she’s additionally passionate about sustainable and environmentally conscious business practices. Meagan finds ways to incorporate nature into her recreational life, going camping or hiking with friends and exploring off campus.

Senior Lauren Wood wants to focus on educating members of her college, focusing on making people aware of the environmental impact of using limited resources and correcting miscommunication about what can and cannot be recycled. An EcoRep at Will Rice College, she joined the program to emphasize the environment in daily choices, believing that too much is taken for granted and wasted. Lauren is also involved in the newly formed Vegans of Rice club to bring attention to the destruction animal agriculture does to the planet. In her free time, she is training for the 2017 Chevron Houston Marathon, raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.