Teeing Things Up

By Joseph Jerome Raymond ’24: Outreach & Engagement Fellow

Working for the Office of Sustainability this summer wasn't something I thought I would be doing. Hell, I didn’t even expect to be in Amherst. I was hoping to either be at home (working), or literally anywhere else (and I mean that). I haven’t been home since winter break and I won’t be going home until next winter break. So having to stay on campus for the summer felt like it was going to be a challenge.

That said, when I found out that I would be working as the Outreach & Engagement Fellow for the Office of Sustainability, I was really excited. Social media is an area that I have a lot of experience in, but the difference with the Office of Sustainability is that I would be working for a school-affiliated account, versus a brand or an individual. From a student perspective, I’ve seen how a lot of the school accounts are engaged with, and the interactions don’t seem to go past a like and scroll.

This is something I wanted to change for our Office of Sustainability’s Instagram.

This past spring ended a 3 year span of the office not having a director, and since we’re really starting to strengthen our networks on campus, I felt that our social media platforms should match. This meant creating content and opportunities that would engage students in a meaningful, yet casual way, straddling the line between serious and funny. It meant getting out into the community more. And it was A LOT of time behind the camera, trying to capture awesome, shareable moments.

A photo of two people at a cookout and two lines of people in a farm field.

I’ve had a lot of fun these past two months running our Instagram, from documenting trips and initiatives we work on, to choosing the most unknown minerals for the daily ‘mineral of the day’ quiz. It was nice to engage students in a way I would want to be engaged as a student.

One of the other things I loved about my summer with the office is that my work wasn’t limited to social media. Over the summer I also worked in collaboration with Grounds to complete applications to certify Amherst College Campus as a Morton Level 1 arboretum and Tree Campus USA partner. By drawing more attention to the nature of Amherst College, I hope this will inspire a lot more students to get out and explore. There’s a lot more than you think. The application will be submitted and processed in a few weeks (fingers crossed)!

I also designed two newsletters from scratch that will be delivered bi-weekly and monthly to students and alumni, respectively. For the student newsletter, I want to alert students of any and every opportunity they have to explore their passions in the local area. I’m hoping it will be a resource and the first step for many to get involved. For the alumni newsletter, I’m just excited to keep alumni in the loop and give them insight into what goes on in the Amherst ‘bubble’, maybe give them a way back into Amherst’s community.

While a lot of my work prioritized preparing the Office of Sustainability for events and programs that would take place after my internship ended, I enjoyed laying the groundwork for things that will benefit students like myself on campus. Working in a team environment is always an experience I appreciate and I’m glad I got to share space with the other two summer interns.

I want the Office of Sustainability to serve as a network for students to pursue any and all of their passions related to the environment. Whether I’m involved or not, I’m excited to see what comes of it in the future.

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EcoReps Ready to Launch

By Ivy Haight ’25: Sustainability Programs Fellow

A photo of a woman next to student belongings with a logo that says "Eco Rep"

This summer working in the Office of Sustainability was more fulfilling than I ever could have imagined. Despite my family’s best efforts to keep me home, I couldn’t help but take the 2,400-mile leap out of the nest to pursue sustainability at Amherst - something I knew I was interested in and wanted to know more about. Living at Amherst over the summer has been one of the most fun experiences I’ve had, and through this fellowship, I have gained an inside look into the world of sustainability in higher education and developed a (hopefully) long-lasting program at Amherst. I focused the majority of my summer on developing the EcoReps program, which is a program that provides each first-year residence hall with a student EcoRep, who encourages sustainable living and provides programming for Amherst students.

This is a new program for Amherst, so I had the task of building it from scratch, with some of the groundwork research done by Emily Byers in the Spring. While gathering input from my other fellows in the early Summer, I determined what each month of the program would focus on, and from there I began the process of planning a year’s worth of events, posters, Instagram posts, groupme messages, and logistics. Even when I wasn’t involved in every project, I was able to provide input on sustainability features to add to the curriculum, green living certification, thermostat guides, and more. Having the free campus yardsale as an additional project this summer was an eye-opening experience for me as well. We took around 25% of the donations collected from last Spring’s move-out (a huge kudos to facilities, who collected these donations and donated the other 75% to the Amherst Survival Center) and spent two days sorting them and another day setting up a free yardsale in the Orr Rink for when first-years arrive in the fall. Through this process, I realized just how much stuff students accumulate, and how much of it is purchased year after year (like hangers and sheets) in an endless cycle of consumption and waste. I am excited about the buzz on campus already about the free yardsale, and I look forward to hosting it in the Fall.

One of the most interesting parts of my work this summer was when I got to meet with various stakeholders in the Amherst administration. Given that most of the Amherst community had never heard of this program, I quickly developed an elevator pitch to convey what the EcoRep program is all about, and how it will fit into existing programs like Community Advisors and Student Activities. These meetings allowed me to put faces to the names I’ve seen on Amherst emails throughout my first year here, and they gave me an idea of just how interconnected everything at the college is. Working with the people at Amherst made my job even more enjoyable - I remember walking out of several meetings after careful preparation of our presentation, with both Wes and I impressed with how friendly and open to sustainability everyone was.

With the office’s hiatus over the past couple of years, sustainability at Amherst had become something that felt to me as though it was very separate from the student experience. After the arrival and work of Wes and Margot in the spring, I already noticed an increase in student engagement in sustainability on campus (especially through the Sustainable Solutions Lab, which I attended every week in the spring), and I was excited to spearhead the EcoRep program in order to promote sustainable living through students themselves. As one of the EcoReps for this academic year, I know that there are bound to be some hiccups, as there almost always are in the first year of a large program like this. But I also know that seeing my work come to life will bring me even more joy than creating it has.

Ever since being in this position, I have gotten dozens of comments and questions from acquaintances and close friends. “Is this compostable?” “I have this idea for…” “Can I recycle this?” “I’ve noticed there’s a lot of waste from … can we get rid of that altogether?” One of my favorite parts of working in the Office of Sustainability is that not only do I have the answers to these questions, I also have the power and the knowledge to make changes and take action. Plus, it’s fun being the “sustainability friend.”

Through my work this summer and talking with Wes in particular, I realized that there’s more to sustainability than meets the eye. Ultimately, everything is much more than it seems. The EcoRep program is much more than just encouraging students to be sustainable. Amherst’s impact is much more than just the student community on campus. And sustainability is much more than just renewable energy and recycling. No matter what I worked on this summer, our group had constant discussions about sustainability worldwide, the fate of the planet, and other existential topics related to the climate that didn’t discourage me in the slightest; rather, they left me walking out of Beneski every evening with an increased passion for sustainability and solving climate change. I’m thrilled to be working in this office with such incredible people and a common goal of sustainability - sustain the herd!

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Why You Have to Read Our Living Guide

By Luxi Sun ’25: Summer Fellow

Disclaimer: All views in this post are completely of my own, including and especially the controversial ones. In the belief to protect individual freedom of speech, my office allowed me to share these views, so please do not peg Wes into trouble.

Most importantly, my bold, underlined opener in the largest font, most persuasive of all—Wes called my Guide “hip”.

A guide named "Sustain the Herd: Amherst Living Guide" with a graphic of a mammoth next to a globe.
But also…

  1. It’s instilled with our sincere dedication to scientific accuracy. Our office had a one-week debate about whether pizza boxes are recyclable alone. **They are! As counterintuitive as it may sound, our local recycling facilities confirmed that you CAN recycle pizza boxes without food scraps.**
  2. It’s accustomed to Amherst life. We all know beer cans or alcohol bottles are recyclable, but wasted alcohol containers have been a very serious issue on campus that make many custodians sad (I’m looking at you, the Triangle party people!). To best help guide intoxicated individuals, I polled our office (with all class years, including graduates, represented) to see what beer is perhaps the most common here. **Check out the Guide for the eventual result. Hint: I’ve heard it tastes pretty bad and plain.**
  3. Originally in the Climate Action Plan section, I included the headshot of our new, beloved president, Mr. Michael Elliot, with a smidge of political satire cartoon style, only to add some comical effects to it. My direct supervisor, Wes, persuaded me out of this dangerous game, because it is the office’s firm belief that admin is on our side when it comes to sustainability. So, we all warmly welcome and actively count on you, Michael! Great to have you back here. **Still, I insisted on including some kind of personality image there. Did you find out “who” I used instead? Hint: it’s not Wes, though I did propose to him that I could substitute him there for Michael instead. Needless to say I don’t think he was married to this idea.**
  4. The “Advocacy” chapter is very informative. I included all photos for the MA-related politicians we hoped to introduce to you, whom you should hold accountable. So, if you see Paul Bockelman (Amherst’s current town manager) at Wholefoods, or wander into Elizabeth Warren in Antonio’s Pizza (if, big if), make sure to tell them to, like, make Amherst greener or stop exporting US LNG or something.
  5. There’s a chapter “You can't take it with ya!” with advice I personally find the most enlightening to my college career, especially after living through several poignantly brutal move-outs.
  6. I’m pretty proud of my “sexy” puns. Make sure to catch all of them. **I’m concerned you’re still not persuaded enough to read the guide at this point, so I’ll have to give you a little tease here that’s too good to be missed. Also in the “Advocacy” chapter, there’s a person holding a slogan that reads “Make Love, Not CO2”. Smart, right?**
  7. After finalizing our guide, I had the opportunity to meet with Susan May and learned how to make our Guide accessible to as many people as possible. I’m very thankful to know now how to accommodate different crowds that I didn’t previously know, which I believe may also be the case for many other campus orgs. Accessibility should be a concern that our campus needs to be aware and mindful of. **Therefore, as you will see on our website, we included two versions of the living guide, including an accessible, text-based one.**
  8. There’s many yummy, happy breakfast/ plant-based/ lunch hacks in the “How to Val” chapter. **Shoutout to our dear Joe for the title inspiration, using “Val” as a verb: very hip.**
  9. There’s pretty colors and shapes in this guide.
  10. It’s my proudest baby of this summer. It’s a culmination of hundreds of hours of work by me, my colleagues, past fellows and dedicated staff that keeps our college running (Joe Flueckiger from dining, Kenny Lauzier from Facilities, Susan May from IT, and all the other people who have helped and supported us along the way). It’s pretty awesome. Go check it out.

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