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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

USI receives conservation award

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Wendy Knipe Bredhold
Media Relations Specialist, News & Information Services
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The University of Southern Indiana received the Urban Conservation Organization Award from the Vanderburgh County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) at its annual dinner meeting on February 22. Stephen Helfrich, director of facility operations and planning, accepted the award on the University's behalf.

USI's Division of Outreach and Engagement played a key role in the development of the partnership between the University and SWCD. Its Center for Applied Research organized rain garden and trail projects for USI's campus, in which Dr. Chuck Price, professor of science education, assisted with the planting of native plants along walkways. Don Fleming, grounds and athletic field supervisor, collaborated with Dr. Anne Statham, director of Service Learning, to engage students in the projects and maintain the value of the trails.

The University has completed several "green" projects, the majority of which address storm water run-off. The three parking lots most recently constructed on campus were designed to collect and filter run-off. A rain garden installed east of the Recreation, Fitness, and Wellness Center and a lake south of the residence halls contain inlets that allow run-off to shed pollutants by filtering it through rocks and soil. The pollutants would eventually have flowed into the Ohio River, so not only is the USI community benefiting, but the Tri-state is as well.

"We recognize those who are committed, not as a fad, but as an ongoing project," said Davie Sue Wallace Litov, chairman of the SWCD board. "A lot of people have what I like to call 'green fever,' but USI has had it for a long time, and that is very impressive. Not only is USI committed to conservation, but the University continues to uphold this commitment."

USI maintains an ongoing recycling program, collecting paper, cardboard, aluminum, and plastic containers. Also recycled are items such as steel, copper waste, carpet, and asphalt from various projects throughout the campus.

Helfrich said, "The facilities planning and operations staff of the Physical Plant are always conscience of improving and protecting our environment by reusing and recycling materials, reducing energy usage in our facilities, managing storm water run-off and constructing facilities that are 'green.'"

In spring 2010, President Linda L.M. Bennett appointed an environmental stewardship committee made up of faculty, staff, and students, to examine how the University can further reduce its environmental footprint.

Contributed by Jennifer Dryer, communications intern in USI's Center for Applied Research.



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