On June 11, 2010 the National Wildlife Federation, Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia,
Kennesaw State University, Georgia Southern University and the University of Georgia co-hosted the first-ever Georgia Campus Sustainability Meeting at Macon State College.

Fifty-two participants from 24 different campuses and five organizations across the state of Georgia attended this meeting to network, learn and share best practices for campus sustainability with their peers.  The group was a diverse mix of faculty, administrators, sustainability coordinators, facilities directors, environmental health and safety staff and students.  Attendees enjoyed the opportunity to converse with representatives from other campuses who approach sustainability from a variety of different backgrounds and perspectives.

The following campuses and organizations were represented: Agnes Scott College, Albany State University, Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, Clark-Atlanta University, Clayton State University, Emory University, Georgia College & State University, Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA), Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Southern University, Georgia State University, Gordon College, Kennesaw State University, Life University, Macon State College, MarionEco, Mercer University, Middle Georgia College, Morehouse College, National Wildlife Federation (NWF), North Georgia College and State University, Savannah State University, Save Our Rivers, Inc., South Georgia College, Spelman College, Southern Polytechnic State University, University of Georgia, University of West Georgia and Valdosta State University.

Overall, the meeting went very well and participants found the practical information, sharing of ideas and networking to be most valuable.  While everyone seemed very attentive and interested in the variety of presentations offered, several individuals did express a desire for more discussion, socializing and Q&A time at future gatherings.  Most of the attendees stayed for the entire meeting and it seemed that everyone who remained at the end was in favor of continuing to network with each other, as well as organizing and attending future gatherings.

Already, seven individuals have express interest in forming a steering committee to establish a more formal network for campus sustainability in Georgia. Representatives from several different campuses have also expressed interest in hosting a workshop or other event in the future.  Further, some of the meeting co-hosts have indicated that they would like to also form a regional Southeast network in addition to the newly formed state network.  I will be exploring this possibility, along with many opportunities to continue engaging and supporting the Georgia Campus Sustainability Network (official name TBD).

Needs identified at this meeting: Website, Communication channels, Contacts list, Examples of local sustainability solutions and Future gatherings (proposed 1 annual state-wide gathering with multiple smaller, more-focused workshops, webinars and other events throughout the state over the course of the year).

Quotes from the meeting:

“This is the most important thing to happen in campus sustainability in the five years I’ve been in my position.” – Dr. Doug Oetter, Biology Professor and Chair of the Environmental Committee, Georgia College and State University

“I am so encouraged by the interaction of the group
and the number of sustainability best practices I see being applied by the attendees. Thank you for the opportunity to attend and to present.” – Greg Adams, Director of Management and Operations, Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia

“I thought the first-ever Georgia Sustainability Network meeting was a huge success.  Thanks for your organizational skills and tireless efforts!” – Kevin Kirsche, Director of Sustainability, University of Georgia