A New Conservation Ethic in Higher Education

This Week in NWF History

Since 1936, the National Wildlife Federation has worked to conserve the nation’s wildlife and wild places. As part of our 80th anniversary celebration, we are recognizing important moments in our history that continue to make an impact today.

The National Wildlife Federation has helped teams of college students, faculty and staff create greener, wildlife-friendly campuses and communities for more than 25 years through its Campus Ecology Program. More than one million young leaders have participated in these programs at most of the nation’s 4,100 two and four-year colleges and university campuses.
“As millennials, it is important that we take on leadership roles.” – Jomar Floyd, EcoLeader. Photo from Jomar Floyd

Education initiatives such as NWF’s Campus Ecology help inspire a new sustainability ethic in U.S. higher education. The majority of student alumni engaged with our program are involved in multiple ways in the sustainability and conservation movement, from leading greening city-wide purchasing programs to co-founding new national climate organizations. See this article, “Student Star Power”, in National Wildlife magazine, for a few outstanding examples.

At the heart of all of these efforts has been leadership by students, who desire greater support in converting their skills and experiences into careers for sustainability. Meanwhile, green sectors are offering robust, well-paid job opportunities that could help lift up and engage millennials (age 18 to 34) who now form the majority of the workforce.

NWF’s Campus Ecology team put this learning into practice and launched EcoLeaders in fall of 2014. To date, more than 1,300 EcoLeaders in all 50 U.S. states and in 11 countries help the National Wildlife Federation and our partners position the next generation to lead for a resilient, biologically diverse and cleaner economy all across the U.S. and the world.

Campus greening efforts give students the opportunity for hands-on, project-based learning that works toward the larger goal of a cleaner economy. We will continue to support these initiatives through the NWF Campus Ecology Resource Center, while shining an even brighter spotlight on next generation leaders at the center of these innovations.

EcoLeaders such as Nishant Makhijani work with others to share ideas and advocate for sustainable environmental practices on campuses. Photo from University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign

Supported generously by the Kendeda Fund which also supported the campus ecology fellowships, NWF’s EcoLeaders Program engages college students and young professionals interested in securing great jobs that help the planet (as well as their instructors, staff and administrators, interested in student career development for sustainability).

As enrolled EcoLeaders, students and young professionals join a community and take five steps that boost effective leadership and career skills for sustainability:

  1. Declaring and sharing an EcoMission
  2. Designing and advancing projects
  3. Supporting others through discussion Forums
  4. Earning certification for project-based leadership
  5. Planning career pathways

With the support of NWF and our partners, EcoLeaders can work even more effectively preparing themselves for the global market for sustainability competencies. Over the next several months, we will be updating our e-newsletter, websites, etc., so stay tuned for more exciting changes! Please contact EcoLeaders@nwf.org with any questions.

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