A week in the life of a Sustainability Intern

Over the past few weeks there have been some amazing achievements within the Service; from achieving ISO 14001:2015 accreditation for our Environmental Management System, to widening our reach of projects as part of our Living Lab programme. Some of these achievements have given us the opportunity to engage with an array of people at University, throughout the community and in surrounding areas. Some of my highlights of the past week as an intern with the Sustainability Service are listed below:

Wednesday 22nd March – Biodiversity and tree planting at Bodington  

One of the events that particularly stood out for me was the mid-week Community Tree Planting Event. With help from the University grounds team and Moorlands Primary School, we set out to Bodington playing fields on the 22nd March armed with spades, trowels and 420 baby tree whips, for a morning of planting and urban biodiversity.

We pulled up into the car park at 9 am under a thick cover of clouds, where we were joined by a group of 10 trusty student volunteers from Moorlands Primary School. We began by discussing the importance of biodiversity in urban areas, mentioning the benefits of trees on wellbeing, habitat growth and carbon dioxide reduction. We then went on to think about the specific species that live in and around trees that would benefit from the mixture of Oak, Hawthorn, Beech, and Blackhorn we were planting, with students successfully recognising bats, birds, bees, insects, and squirrels as some of the main inhabitants.

It was great to get the students thinking about the importance of biodiversity in Leeds, especially with the new refurbishment of the Bodington sports and cycle track facility 500m away, and the resulting need to maintain and replace some of those surrounding natural habitats. Unfortunately we didn’t see any bats like the children had hoped, however we did see birds and a huge amount of insects within the soil and subsurface.

In the end, we manged to plant all 420 in 1 hour and 20 minutes and we couldn’t have done it without the help of Moorlands Primary School, thank you very much!

Saturday 25th March – Be Curious Festival 2017

On Saturday 25th March, the Be Curious Festival 2017 took place at various locations on campus, namely the Parkinson building and the Michael Sadler building. The day was a celebration of the research taking place at Leeds University, highlighting its importance and relevance to not only the Leeds as a city, but also Yorkshire and the UK as a whole!

We thought this would be a great opportunity to display some of the engaging research that the Sustainability Service are currently doing to tackle issues on and off campus. We had a stall dedicated to our Living Lab programme which highlighted our upcoming project looking at food waste management and its potential use as an energy source. This was paired with information on recycling in surrounding communities, giving passers-by the chance to see how their postcode compared with the recycling rates of the Leeds average, as well as testing their knowledge on what household items can and can’t be recycled. Our other stall highlighted the student projects carried out under the Community Engagement Discovery Module alongside interactive activities regarding St George’s Field, its heritage and importance as a green space on campus.

The day was a great success, with over 350 people coming and visiting us throughout the event who had some great questions and suggestions for future projects! See below for some of the imaginative drawings children drew of things they’d like to see in St George’s Field.

Thanks to everyone who helped out with Be Curious; the organisers, volunteers and members of the public who made the day a success. We look forward to next year!