NWF Campus Fellow Working to Help Indiana Colleges and Universities Go Phosphorus-Free

from Wildlife Promise

0 12/7/2010 // By Courtney Cochran

NWF’s Campus Ecology Program and affiliate Indiana Wildlife Federation (IWF) have joined forces to support a Fellow to help promote IWF’s Phosphorus-Free Campaign within the higher Ed system in Indiana.

Katherine Wright, IWF’s first Campus Ecology Fellow, is a senior at DePauw University in Greencastle, IN majoring in Biology with a minor in French.

As the NWF- Indiana Affiliate Fellow, Kate is working to unite students, faculty, and staff at local Indiana universities and colleges to establish a network of support for the phosphorus-free campaign, leading to legislative action. The Indiana Wildlife Federation campaign focuses on education and advocacy to restrict phosphorus in an effort to conserve local wildlife habitats and improve drinking water quality in Indiana. Kate’s Fellowship began in May of 2010 and will continue until May 2011.

Kate has researched colleges and universities in the region and their commitment to environmental efforts, ultimately creating a target list of 21 institutions in which IWF has communicated their phosphorus initiative with and opened a dialogue of information sharing and guidance for the universities looking to improve their current grounds-keeping efforts to incorporate phosphorus-friendly practices.

In addition to outreach, Kate has been crafting a Campus Plan that outlines five main categories for campus grounds sustainability – lawn maintenance (including fertilizers), pesticides and herbicides, water conservation and recycling, native plants, and removal of invasive plants. The Plan is formatted along the lines of the LEED certification program for buildings, in that in order to achieve each level of certification; a school must complete a certain number of initiatives from multiple categories.

Most recently, Kate has been reaching out to student environmental organizations at each of the target schools and communicating with them about the P-Free Campaign in a hope to get students interested in encouraging their administrators and grounds keeping staff to adopt more sustainable lawn care practices.

Finally, Kate hopes to see a relationship between these schools and IWF grow because of the work of the campaign, she notes that as a student she “did not know much about IWF before applying for this fellowship, and as a member of a student environmental organization I wish I had known about and utilized the IWF earlier. I see the P-Free Campaign as a way to connect environmentally minded students with the resources and experience provided by established environmental organizations in Indiana, hopefully leading to more effective campaigns within schools to increase campus sustainability.”

Kate Wright, NWF Indiana Affiliate Fellow

Kate serves as treasurer of DePauw’s Environmental club and editor of “Green Piece” for DePauw’s literary magazine, The Cauldron. Katherine participated in a study-abroad program in Madagascar where she was able to study environmental topics with local experts, performed ecological field research and carried out an independent study project on conservation and local communities. Katherine also served as DePauw’s Environmental Policy Project Intern where she compiled information on Indiana legislators and legislative history, researched state-specific environmental issues with a focus on green building and confined feeding operations and testified at the Indiana State House and met with Indiana legislators to discuss environmental issues.