Congratulations to the 2018 Recipients of the Champions for Change Awards

The following people and programs were selected in 2018 to receive Champions for Change awards for their significant contributions in the areas of Sustainability or Health & Well-Being.

Sustainability: Marianne Schmink

Marianne is the co-founder of the Community Weatherization Coalition, an organization that provides free energy audits to low-income residents in an effort to conserve natural resources and help people save money on their utility bills. The CWC has trained dozens of volunteer “Energy Coaches” and has performed over 800 audits throughout Alachua County. These audits include educating residents on energy and water conservation as well as performing retrofits of energy-saving lightbulbs, water-saving showerheads, and more. Through her work with the CWC and her church, United Church of Gainesville, Marianne has also become actively involved in supporting the Greater Duval Neighborhood Association, a newly-formed organization operating in an under-resourced pocket of our community. Marianne has helped to provide facilitation and partnerships with the academic community as well as seeking out internships, resources, and community service opportunities for Duval residents.

Sustainability: Sabina Osman

Sabina helped develop a campaign, called #UNLITTER – focused around establishing a community through social media that understands the impacts of littering, wants to reduce littering and preserve the beauty of natural places. Sabina devoted herself to furthering the #UNLITTER movement, even while pursuing a Master’s in Business Management and a Bachelor’s in Sustainability Studies. In less than a year, she has grown it from a simple campaign to an LLC in the state of Florida. Using social media and word-of-mouth, Sabina has created a positive and sincere voice for sustainability on campus and in our community. She and her team have continued to educate themselves and others on the long-term impacts of littering and empower the same to do something about it. Right now, #UNLITTER can be seen hosting and sponsoring local events. They are finding willing partners in Gainesville and all over Florida to help promote a culture of reducing waste and “un-littering.”

Sustainability: Staff and Team of the Alan & Cathy Hitchcock Field & Fork Pantry

The Field and Fork Pantry opened in August of 2015 after a survey of UF students revealed that 10% of the population experienced food insecurity to the point where it impacted their academic success. In the more than two years that the Pantry has been open, they have fostered relationships, recruited supporters, and built a vital service for the campus community. The team has built a relationship with the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank as a partner agency, to help during times of low food donations. They have also fostered a relationship with Publix Supermarkets that was so successful that the Publix corporate offices even took notice. As a result, they developed a special grants program that is offered only to campus food banks and pantries. The pantry is also a partner of the Field and Fork Gardens, which allows the pantry to stock fresh, organic produce that is grown by students. Notable numbers from the 2016-2017 fiscal year include: 6,898 guests visited the pantry, 53,835 lbs of food were distributed, and 6,674 lbs of fresh produce was donated to the pantry by the Field and Fork Gardens. The pantry team has worked tirelessly to build incredible relationships and partnerships across campus and in the community.

Sustainability: Student Compost Cooperative (SCC)

The SCC is a cross-disciplinary outreach program dedicated to promoting sustainability at the campus and community level. Their goal is to encourage and train students, faculty, and staff at the University of Florida and other locals in Gainesville to compost their food waste, and to teach them about the value of recycling and turning this waste into natural fertilizers. By creating a closed-loop system with their composting program, they help to reduce the volume of food waste disposed in landfills, which in turn reduces the release of harmful greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere. The SCC was established in 2009 by Dr. Ann Wilkie of the BioEnergy and Sustainable Technology (BEST) Laboratory in the Soil and Water Sciences Department within UF-IFAS and CALS as an outreach program to promote sustainability within the UF community. The SCC is unique in that it is a cooperative that is free and open to all UF students. Because many college students live in dorms or apartments, household composting is not an option. The SCC has a 24/7 open-door policy, so those who have an interest in composting their food waste can come at their convenience. The SCC maintains several composters to allow these students to compost their food waste. In addition, the SCC closes the compost loop by maintaining a student-run organic garden in which students grow their own organic food using the compost they helped to create. Large barrels that collect rain water allow students to easily irrigate their garden plots with a more sustainable source of water. Encouraging students to use these eco-friendly practices builds awareness and environmental responsibility that contribute to their personal and communal growth, while the gardens serve as a place for students to relax, study and enjoy the outdoors. The SCC hosts open houses and field days, and participates in a variety of other educational opportunities to help build awareness and to educate others about the benefits of composting.

Sustainability: Amy Stein

Amy, a professor in the Levin College of Law, quickly took on a leadership role in helping the school more forward with its sustainability efforts. Under her leadership the Law School sustainability committee – consisting of students, faculty and staff – gained new energy. Students have been inspired to explore creating a graduate student group focused on sustainability, to become engaged with efforts to expand solar energy on campus, and have broadened their attention to sustainability. Amy, whose background is focused on energy law, played a key role in ensuring that the law school included new solar panels in its recent renovation of the student commons. UF Law was recently recognized in preLaw Magazine as one of the country’s 5 Greenest Law Schools, due in large part to her leadership. Her nominator emphasized that the Law School is a more sustainable enterprise because of her commitment and the dedication of her time, and the university community is better positioned to lead in research on renewable energy because of her scholarly and teaching contributions.

Health & Well-Being: Tammy Bleeker

In the past three years, Tammy translated her dedication to health and fitness from her personal world to her professional world by acting as an advocate for the members of the department in the role as the Division of Pediatric Medical Education’s Wellness Ambassador. In medicine in particular, wellness is critical and the residency program is developing a robust curriculum for their trainees and faculty. In addition to advancing the wellness curriculum, Tammy continues to seek out and present other opportunities for wellness, such as recruiting, leading and sustaining faculty, residents, staff, and students in programs such as the national wellness program known as The Whole Life Challenge and the UF wellness challenges. She reminds the department about other programs available through UF and provides easy ways for them to find nutritious and healthy food choices, arranges for pet therapy for the department, and works hard to provide healthier food selections when buying food for the residents. She does all this work because it is important and it is making a difference in the lives of her colleagues and the residents of the department.

Health & Well-Being: Jacqueline Allegra Curnick

Jacqueline, a graduate student in the Master of Sustainable Development Practice Program, was recognized for her unique research in conjunction with ACAT, an organization that works with and advocates for Alaska Natives. Jacqueline carried out her capstone field practicum to analyze how and to what degree Alaska Natives are impacted by the introduction of toxic chemicals into their environments. Jacqueline created a documentary film to shed light on the complex confluence of factors that lead to undesirable health outcomes, including toxins seeping out of waste deposited by the U.S. military in years past, and also chemicals that concentrate in arctic environments through processes of chemical distillation and global transport. Jacqueline was the first UF MDP student to carry out their field practicum in the United States. Her focus on health issues impacting communities in the Arctic makes her work quite unique in that bridges cultural, environmental, economic and historical dimensions; and it addresses a real world problem negatively impacting our fellow citizens in the Arctic.

Health & Well-Being: Teresa Drake

Teresa has made truly unique contributions that have had a major impact on the entire Levin College of Law and UF community. As Director of the Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Clinic and as part of the Program Team for UF Mindfulness, Teresa draws on her knowledge of mindfulness practice and her experience as a yoga instructor to help her students and clients deal with the stress and emotional impact of intimate partner violence. Above and beyond representing the clients and training students to deal with the legal dimensions of these situations, she introduces both students and clients to mindfulness techniques that can help them cope with the broader underlying situation and the stress attendant with the legal conflict. Because of the benefits yoga can offer students, Teresa has gone above and beyond to hold a yoga class at UF Law, so that it is easily accessible to students including busy law students. Her commitment to sustaining achievement is apparent in her constant focus on improving the approaches used in her clinic as well as ensuring the broadest access possible to resources on mindfulness.

Health & Well-Being: Emily Sullivan

Emily is the Director of the Streetlight Program at Shands Children’s Hospital, a non-profit that provides peer support to teens and young adults hospitalized with chronic and terminal illnesses. She leads her team of 65 volunteers by inspiring them, educating them, coaching them, supporting them, and making sure that they have access to the support they need. Emily exceeds expectations in every aspect of her work, whether it be providing meaningful support to a patient, talking them through end of life existential discussions, celebrating a milestone, or supporting a family through grieving years after their child’s death, or be it lending an ear to a volunteer undergoing a personal crisis, all actions are done with her utmost effort, and with the entirety of her heart. She works to create protocol to support the volunteers in the future as more and more students apply for this wonderful program. Most importantly, Emily makes this program feel like a family for all of the patients, volunteers, and staff that comprise it.

Published: April 30th, 2018

Category: News