UA Little Rock awards five grants to make a more sustainable campus

Dr. Stephen Grace works in the UA Little Rock Campus Garden. Photo by Lonnie Timmons III/UA Little Rock Communications.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock Sustainability Committee has awarded nearly $7,000 to five projects proposed by UA Little Rock students with the goal of making the campus more sustainable and environmentally friendly. 

Anna Griffiths, a junior environmental geology major, received a $1,000 grant to improve the university’s recycling program. She will place disposable GPS trackers in designated recycling bins on campus to track where recycling from UA Little Rock goes.

Next, she wants to fix any problems in the campus’s current recycling program and work with Facilities Management to roll out a new recycling program. Griffiths will use the $1,000 grant to purchase disposable GPS tracking devices, host recycling demonstrations, and create custom banners, signs, and posters to promote recycling on campus.

“I wanted to focus my Donaghey Scholars final project on a sustainable, community service project,” Griffiths said. “It is important to have a working recycling program to benefit our campus and our environment. Every sustainable college has a great recycling program. Setting a foundation for a well-operating recycling system is essential for creating a path of sustainable development for UA Little Rock.”

A second project will allow students on campus to study outside longer by providing a designated outdoor study space with a solar-powered charging station to power up electronic devices.

The team of Ethan Bowen, Jordan Hancock, Hannah Krehbiel, and Garry Roberts came up with the idea while researching sustainability projects for a class assignment. They received a $1,970 grant to purchase a solar umbrella station for a common outside area on campus.

“We found solar-powered charging stations and thought it’d be perfect,” said Hancock, a freshman art history major. “This is a clear demonstration on how clean energy can be converted and used in everyday life. This will show that UA Little Rock is committed to sustainability, educates students on clean energy, and encourages students to spend time outside.”

A group of Donaghey Scholars will use a $1,518 grant to purchase and install a water bottle filling station for the University Commons Building. Since it is a high-traffic area for residential students on campus, the students believe this location will help UA Little Rock eliminate the use and environmental impact of tens of thousands of bottles per year.  

The students include Savannah James, freshman English and political science major; Jade Keathley, sophomore music major; and D. Cecily Mobley and Karson Oates, both first-year computer science majors.

“If more people on campus had access to water bottle filling stations, a higher number of people would take advantage of them, given the positive environmental impact and the health benefits of avoiding sugary drinks as well as the benefit of saving money over time,” James said. “It is necessary to increase access to these filling stations in order to combat plastic waste on campus. Ultimately, by installing these filling stations, the university would have a straightforward opportunity to combat the amount of waste produced with the use of single-use plastic water bottles and promote a healthier, more sustainable attitude within the UA Little Rock community.”

The fourth project, which received a $1,000 grant, includes a plan to save the campus money by planting indigenous, drought-resistant plants across campus. The grant recipients includestudents Sadie Goss, B. LaTambria Hampton, C. Sam Koon, and D. Aleigha Smith.

According to their proposal, the university would save money by using local plants native to Arkansas, rather than importing non-native plants that don’t fare well in Arkansas’s harsh summers. Local plants would require less water to maintain. The team hopes that student organizations will get involved and volunteer to plant the native plants once they are purchased.  

The final grant recipient is Jason Spencer, an earth sciences graduate student, who will use a  $1,500 grant to purchase and install a solar station that will provide power for a recently installed greenhouse at the UA Little Rock Campus Garden. The solar station will run fans to cool the greenhouse, lighting, and irrigation pumps. The project will allow the Campus Garden to grow food year round. The Campus Garden donates food to the Trojan Food Pantry, which benefits UA Little Rock students, faculty, and staff and members of the community.

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