Goodbye from me

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Can’t believe my placement year has come to an end! It’s definitely been a really exciting and great year.

During my second year at university I had my heart set on finding an internship to develop skills which would make me more employable after I graduate. I would definitely recommend doing an internship to anyone who is thinking of doing one. I had a list of things I wanted to get out of a placement year before I even secured a position: I wanted it to be really useful, something that was worth taking a year out of university for and something that would not only prepare me for the ‘real world’ but also help me make a positive contribution to society (working on a strategic theme called ‘Being a Positive Partner in Society’ was my cue to apply).

I also wanted to gain transferable skills that would not only help me with my future career but also help me with my studies. I can happily say that working in the Sustainability Service ticked all the boxes and I got everything out of my placement I wanted to.

As an international student I was amazed by how much the University is doing to promote sustainability and embed it across the whole University.

It’s an amazing team to work with who made me feel welcome from day one. It’s really inspiring to work with people who are this good at and enthusiastic about what they do. If my next workplace will be just half as good as this one, I’ll be happy.

There have been so many highlights of this year it’s hard to pick one but just to mention a few: all the engagement activities we did with IntoUniversity students were great, from fixing bikes with them to talking about the University’s social impact and beyond. Going along to SkyRide and making smoothies with a pedal-powered bike was also great fun, it was great to see so many people on their bikes all across the city.

Another highlight was attending Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s 70th Birthday Celebration with Sir David Attenborough, it was the most inspiring talk I have ever been to. Sir David Attenborough has always been one of my biggest inspirations – his work has been inspiring generations for decades and will continue to do so for a long time, but sitting only a few metres away from him was truly incredible. You can watch a recording of the event via this link.

It was really interesting to update the ‘Living in Leeds’ Guide and consult with various key stakeholders, including community groups, the Police, Leeds City Council, and students. The guide is here to help students settle in to the community and live more sustainably and I’m really looking forward to seeing people reading it around campus!

I’m also looking forward to the University achieving its set goals in terms of sustainability and continue to contribute to it as a student. I think it’s really important to stress that every little contribution helps to achieve the overall goal – to create a more sustainable university.

I’ll really miss working with the team but it’s time to move on now. I would like to thank everyone I worked with and made my year so great.

Good luck to the team and to the new interns – I’m sure you will have a blast working here!

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Eric’s Work Experience

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Jambo everyone!!*

I’m Eric and I am currently doing my A-levels at Notre Dame Catholic Sixth Form College as an international student from Tanzania. During my summer holiday I was so lucky to be offered two weeks of work experience at the University of Leeds. I’ve been working with the Sustainability Team along with the Sport & Physical Activity Team for the short period of time however, it felt like I’ve been working with them for more than two weeks. Mainly because they are all really good people and supported me throughout my entire time here.

During my work experience I did a lot of things and also I met a lot of people working on different fields. I had a chance to attend so many meetings to have a feel of how people interact with each other. Through this I’ve been able to gain a lot of things from them.

I’ll start by highlighting the things I was able to do during my time here. On the first day, I attended a meeting with the Sustainability Team – they all explained what they do in terms of their roles. The meeting was mainly about what they were planning to do for the University in a sustainable way. There are so many activities going on. Check out their website to see how the Sustainability Team are working to ensure sustainability is an integral part of University of Leeds operations.

During my work experience, there was a day which I spent on the Bike Hub at the University of Leeds. I was taught how to fix brakes and also how to replace punctured tyres. Did you know that if you are a member of staff or a student at the University of Leeds you can easily hire bikes? See the Bike Hub website to see how.

On the next day I had the opportunity to go to a meeting at the Weetwood Sports Park. We visited the site where a new cycle track and pavilion is being built to provide state of the art cycle facilities which will be used by both elite athletes, such as the Brownlee brothers, students and the public – see this link for more information. The track is expected to open in January 2017.  Great news for cycle enthusiasts and triathlon lovers!

I also had the chance to spend some time with the Sports and Physical Activity Department – I learnt all about the management and operations of the department – I had amazing exposure to how The Edge Sports Centre is run and functions, and all the services they provide, from elite sports coaching to children’s swimming lessons, physiotherapy to swimming pool water treatment – it’s a complicated business! The facilities at the University of Leeds are world class – you should go and check them out yourself!

All in all, I would like to thank everyone across the Sports and Physical Activity department from the top to bottom. They have all been so generous and kind to me throughout my two weeks here.

Overall this experience has helped me a lot, from boosting my confidence to improving my communication skills. I will definitely miss each and every one of you who have supported me and I wish everyone all the best.

Sincere thanks to all members of staff who I had the chance to work with throughout my time here but especially the Head of Sustainability, Dr Louise Ellis and Stewart Ross, the Director of Commercial and Support Services who made this happen.

*Ps: Jambo is greetings in Swahili language.

Dominic’s Summer Internship Experience

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Hello! I’m Dominic, I’ve just returned from year abroad in Rotterdam and I am about to start my fourth and final year of my Politics degree at the University of Leeds. This summer I’m working as an intern at the Sustainability Service . My job is to focus on student sustainability literacy and what that basically means is finding out what students know about sustainability, what our behaviour is like and what we tend to think about sustainability too.

I’ve been researching all the different ways that universities and other organisations try to find out what people know about sustainability. This information is really important to the Sustainability Service and the University in order to plan what action it’s going to take in order to empower students to make a difference in creating a sustainable world.

I am putting together an online sustainability assessments for students that are going to also provide students with practical, relevant information on how to live sustainably. We are currently looking at, in the future, integrating a short quiz into the registration process for students which would be one of the best sources of student sustainability literacy in the world and really help the university make significant strides towards its sustainability goals. In addition I hope to put together a longer survey which students can choose to take part in which will provide a more in-depth look at student sustainability literacy. In order to prepare these I have recently run a focus group of students who have stayed in Leeds over the summer and I got great feedback from them on how to further engage students in sustainability which should prove really useful in the future.

I’m now about half way through my internship and so far this summer I have been really welcomed in by the whole Sustainability Service team. I hadn’t previously been heavily involved in sustainability efforts either in my studies or private life. I tried to use less of what I could and recycle when I could but didn’t feel like I was really involved in sustainability much. However, in just this past month I have learned so much about all the amazing projects going on at university, volunteer organisations and beyond. There is so much to get involved with and I am fully converted from someone who knew sustainability was important but, to be honest, didn’t really do much. Now to someone who is really excited about all the amazing work which is being done and we as students can get involved with right now, it’s all on the Sustainability Service website!

Green Impact submissions

Read about the charities and organisations this year’s Green Impact team have been involved with or support.

Submitted by Leeds Institute of Medical Education – Filipino Futures:

“Leeds Institute of Medical Education are proud to have had a long and successful relationship with a number of local and international community organisations.  The undergraduate medical programme offers students the chance to do short placements with our partners, giving them experience in the voluntary sector and broadening their perspective of the wider world.

One such organisation is Leeds Organic Growers.   LOGs are committed to actively promoting, encouraging and demonstrating sustainable living amongst all sections of the community, whilst protecting and wherever possible, enhancing the local environment.  2015-16 saw a decade of Leeds medical student placements with LOGs and also an exciting development to take the idea of sustainable living to a very different part of the world.

Founder and director of LOGs, Richard Veitch, is in the process of setting up Filipino Futures after visiting the Philippines and seeing first-hand the poverty and lack of healthcare in this wonderful country.  He decided that we could and should do something to improve the livelihoods and health of the local people.  Some 24.4 million poor Filipino Workers still cannot afford to buy basic needs.

Richard’s vision is based around the original Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which are the world’s time-bound and qualified targets for addressing extreme poverty in its many dimensions – income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter and exclusion – while promoting gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability.

One of the key focuses for Filipino Futures is the promotion of sustainable agriculture as a means of both providing employment and of making healthy organic food available to local people.  Black rice is a delicious staple that is little known in the UK but can be grown organically in the Philippines using sustainable methods.  By teaching local communities in the Philippines to grow black rice Richard hopes to empower them to improve both their incomes and their health.

The commercial operations set up by Filipino Futures are social enterprises which means all profits after costs are put back into developing healthcare and schools.  Richard hopes to start exporting organic black rice internationally so keep an eye on your local health food store shelves!

Two Leeds medical school students undertook the inaugural placement in December 2015 with great success, drafting a constitution for the fledgling charity which is now being developed by Filipino Futures.  Discussions are also underway regarding the exciting possibility of a future student elective to live, work and study for a short time with Filipino Futures in the Philippines.

Richard hopes ultimately that the healthcare element of the project could be organised and run by Medical Students themselves and will provide a hands-on introduction to international health.

Filipino Futures is currently seeking volunteers to its management committee. Please call Richard Veitch on 07730 369 663 or email leedsorganicgrowers@hotmail.co.uk for further information.”


Submitted by Helen Theakston, Market Research and Insight:

“The Cinnamon Trust is a national charity which helps to support elderly, infirm and terminally ill people care for their pets. The Trust recognises that pets are treasured companions, particularly for elderly individuals living on their own. Their mission is to help ensure pets can remain with their owners for as long as possible.

Typically, this means matching volunteer dog-walkers for owners with limited mobility, but the charity also coordinates volunteers in other ways. This ranges from day-to-day support, such as fetching cat food or cleaning out the bird cage, to providing foster care and emergency care / transport.

I registered as a volunteer in 2010 and have walked five dogs, some for just a few weeks while their owners get back on their feet, others on a long term basis. There is flexibility to make it work around other commitments and you don’t necessarily have to give a lot of time  – just being able to walk the dog once a week is really valuable. It’s also an easy way to get some extra exercise!

I am currently helping to walk Wally, a beautiful and inexhaustible cockerpoo.

If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, or know someone who might need their support, you can find further information at http://www.cinnamon.org.uk/.”


Submitted by Karen Donnelly, Staff & Departmental Development Unit – Food for thought:

“Anyone interested in food sustainability might want to check out Slow Food; a worldwide organization which grew from protests against the opening of the first McDonalds in Rome in the 1980’s. They now have millions of supporters in over 150 countries, including the UK: https://www.slowfood.org.uk/ and are doing a huge amount of work to protect our food, our health, the environment in which our food is reared or grown and protect against damaging chemical pesticides and fertilisers. There are many worldwide campaigns to educate people about food, e.g., “The Ark of Taste”; protecting traditional food, cultures, recipes and traditions, biodiversity and small struggling farmers.  Over 2,000 foods in 70 countries have now been catalogued and preserved, also protecting them from the effects of homogenization, industrial farming, the demands of the supermarkets and degradation of the environment.  There are a huge amount of other projects going on, so if you want to get involved, it only costs from £1 a month https://www.slowfood.org.uk/about/join-us/.”

Green Impact submissions

Take a look at the projects and creative challenges this year’s Green Impact teams did. Well done to all the teams involved!

 

Submitted by Howard Collier, Leeds Institute of Clinical Trial Research:

“At the Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research we hold a Fuddle at Easter and Christmas where staff bring in a food item to share with their colleagues. This year we attempted to make our Easter Fuddle ‘environmentally-friendly’. Rather than bringing in the usual sweet or savoury item we requested that staff only bring in food items that were either home grown, from a local supplier, or Fair Trade. In addition we had two competitions – a cake made out of UK ingredients and a left over meal challenge with prizes supplied by Groundwork charity in Leeds. The winner of each event was decided by our two Green Impact Project Assistants who enjoyed playing the roles of Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry on the day! During the event we also ran a PowerPoint presentation that provided information about local organic shops, cafes, farmers markets and charities that have a sustainability focus.

At the event staff were treated to a wide selection of tasty food ranging from Mini Yorkshire Puddings with Roast Beef made entirely from left-overs to Wensleydale Cheese and Homemade Pickle sandwiches. The winners of the two competitions were; Cake out of UK ingredients – Rhubarb and Elderflower Shortcake and Left over meal – Pork and Rice Balls with a Garlic dip.

The event was well attended and generated a lot of discussion about sourcing local produce. In particular many staff highlighted how difficult it was to identify where a food item had been produced when looking at supermarket packaging.

To thank Groundwork for the prizes they donated we have nominated them as the recipient of the money raised during our monthly dress down day. We are also thinking of holding a similar event in the autumn where there will be even more seasonal produce available.”


Submitted by Alison Usher, The Secretariat:

“We held a ‘bake a book’ challenge which took place in the two weeks leading up to world book day. The purpose was to introduce and engage staff with the book corner which we have established as part of our Green Impact project. (The book corner aims to encourage sustainability by reusing books as well as addressing staff well-being by creating space to relax at lunch time). Our baking challenge also introduced the theme of ethical purchasing by encouraging the bakes to be made from fair trade produce. The winners were presented with a prize and asked to officially open the book corner on world book day.”


Submitted by Clare Cook, Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine:

In-between the booking of trains and dealing with obstinate diaries, organising the Fairtrade Bake-Off was a pleasant change to my work-based scenery. The idea had sprung from a brainstorming session which started with the simple (but not unwelcomed) idea of a bake sale, which morphed into a breakfast event, and finally landed onto competitive cooking. The thought was to help raise engagement by creating friendly competition which, when combined with food, would be conducive to creating a buzz and atmosphere, to get people emotionally involved about more than the sweet sugar goodness, but also the origins of it.

To enhance this, we obtained a supply of Fairtrade goodies from local volunteer-run shop The Beehive, which we set up and sold in the building during the weeks leading up the event. Needless to say we did not have nearly enough Fairtrade chocolate to meet demand, but having raised over £60 from this small sale, it was still a keen success.

When the day of the Bake-Off itself came the eager-eyed bakers, clutching their creations, trickled to my desk one by one to present their offerings, some more shyly than others. By 11.30am – as Faridah and I set the cakes up ready with numbers, descriptions and origin stories – there was already a gaggle of sheepish staff with plate in one hand and coins in the other, trying to appear both lofty and enthusiastic at the same time, as they eyed the baked goods. By 11.35am the sheepishness had turned into a great wolfing down of cake and mutterings over score sheets which were then handed (slightly-stickily) to us one after the other. By the end we were surrounded by crumbs and a lot of numbers ready for counting.

For the next two hours I was hounded for information about who had won and when we could do another event.

The victor, to no one’s surprise, was a beautiful cake made from not only Fairtrade products but also with squash grown in the baker’s own garden. Well-deserved indeed.

All that was left then was the washing up and a great sense of achievement – not only in the event, but in the realisation that sometimes the battle is simply in unconscious choice. That is, by having a Fairtrade sale on-hand and easy, it makes the right choice also the easiest one.

The bake sale raised (pun intended) just over £55 and that, along with the £60 raised from the goods sale, has been donated to the Fairtrade Foundation.

‘Inspiring Women’ Writing Competition entries

For International Women’s Day this year, the Sustainability Service created a writing competition looking for stories to celebrate women and their achievements.  The competition was open to staff, students and the general public.

Hamda Arab (19, Bhopal, M.P., India):

WOMEN WHO INSPIRE ME

Since my childhood days I have been looked after by many women, my mother, my grandmother, my aunts and my teachers. They have all played a major role in making me what I am today. Little did I know that the ones who looked after me when I didn’t even know how to walk will become the ones I look up to as I step out and find a place for myself in this whole wide world.

They don’t have super powers, they can’t turn things gold, they can’t fly or run faster than the speed of light and neither they can fight super villains but yes what they can do is pretty amazing too and to be true some of these are pretty hard jobs to do. Things like they fed me when I was hungry, stayed up all night when I was sick to look after me, taught me how to walk when laying in bed was the only thing I knew humans could do. They made me laugh when I cried. Knew what I wanted before I spoke. These things might not be cool enough to be a part of science fiction books or comics but in my opinion they are some pretty cool things.

These women around me have taught me things without actually making me realise that I am being taught lessons for life and as far as I remember this is what modern teaching system is all about, isn’t it?

They might not have taught me big words, technical terms or mathematical equations but what they taught me are the things no institution can teach me. They taught me about those little things that we strive for and struggle with each and everyday. Things like love, care, hope, faith……basically everything about happiness. They made me confident enough to be myself, humble enough to accept my mistake, polite enough to listen, brave enough to face my fears and strong enough to overcome my weaknesses.

They are my inspiration. I look up to them as they not only give me hope for a better tomorrow but they give me motivation and strength to make one for myself and for others.”


Anjuli Thawait (20, Bhopal, M.P., India):

“There are several faces that you come across each and every day, every other person has something or the other to offer, what do you pick up from these people? Is it their positivity? Is it their strength? Or is it the entirety of that person that you wish to adorn.

Women have always been an epitome of selfless care and affection, they portray the countenance of a sister, a friend, a mother, she is the one who nurtures the family, without her the pothole seems to widen.

I have always had a fair share of the good and the bad people around me, tried to pick up the best out of every outcome. The women around me be it my mother, my sisters, my friends, they have always brought in a lot of positivity and sanity in my belief system. Their teachings, their struggles have taught me how to live a placid, calm and a life full of unconditional love.

I have been friends with a certain group of people ever since the college started, been fortunate enough to get those vibrant souls from the very beginning. It wasn’t until recently that I found out about what one of my friend had gone through when she was at her very tender age, she lost her younger sibling at the age of 10 while they were playing,due to some unfortunate circumstances, and that should have torn her and her family apart, but she picked up her shattered pieces and mended herself and her family back to what they always were, the gap could not get filled because the society that we live in, never allows you to forget. There are always two things that you can do, you can either brood and cry for sympathy, or you can refuse to give up, bring out all the strength and move on. My friend was of the second type, she refused to succumb to this pernicious society, she has always worked very hard to get all the happiness that she could plausibly bring for her family. She never allowed her academics to suffer nor her career, she never talks about it because she does not want anybody to sympathize with her, nor does she want the people to serve her with the golden platter.

I have never known anyone more stronger than her, how can someone confide this kind of pain for so long and still be like a breath of fresh air. She is a person who will go to the ends of the world to make things happen for the ones she loves, she treats her friends like family, and there is not anything that she wouldn’t do to make her parents happy, to feel okay about having just her as their child, to fill up for the daughter they lost.

We have been friends for several years now, and all the others mentioned their bad friendships or their bad relationships, deaths of their uncles, aunts, grandparents. But losing a sibling who is younger to you, is our pain anywhere compared to hers? We gave her advice to be strong when she cried, never knowing why she really cried. We could not even hear her pain, let alone facing it. And that girl has been keeping herself strong ever since she was 10 years old. If that does not motivate you to be strong, positive and hard working in life, I don’t know what else will.”

Green Impact experience – Lucy’s blog

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I have spent the last six months as a Green Impact Assistant for the Sustainability team at the University. Green Impact is an environmental awards programme run in association with NUS. The scheme provides a framework to improve sustainability at the university through an online workbook with criteria to help departments create a more sustainable workplace, and celebrates achievements made over the year, such as reducing paper usage or promoting more sustainable transport within their office.

The role has involved monthly meetings with the team to complete different aspects of the workbook for their Green Impact team. Over this period, I have helped the team conduct an energy audit of their office, identifying actions to improve its efficiency, as well as offering ideas, and helping promote their creative challenge; which this year was a vegetarian week amongst the team! I was able to contribute individually and as a team, working with Helene, another Green Impact Assistant, developing my communication and project management skills. As a Masters student studying Sustainability and Business, this experience has given me an insight into how material presented in lectures translates in a practical situation. It has also helped me improve my ability to write for a non-academic audience and my ability to work as part of a diverse, professional team.

As part of the scheme, I was also aware of, and in contact with, other Green Impact Assistants working in different departments around the university. It has been really interesting to see how other departments are addressing sustainability, and the innovative initiatives they are putting in place to spread sustainability throughout the university; from building indoor gardens to Fairtrade bake sales! The experience has allowed me to see and be involved with, the university’s commitment to sustainability, and the range of activities happening across campus!

 

Lucy Atkinson (MSc Sustainability and Business)

Student blogs: Tami shares her involvement with sustainability at the university

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“Hi,I’m Tami Pein a first year Environment and Business student. I chose to study at Leeds because of the fantastic Earth and Environment Department and all the great opportunities to get involved in environmental ventures at the University. My first year so far has definitely exceeded all expectations. I was voted Course Rep and Green Coordinator of my residences, Central Village. As Green Coordinator I am able to implement ‘sustainability initiatives’ such as promoting new compost schemes, encouraging recycling and running my own healthy lifestyle events.

Event organising has been a great way to promote greener, healthier lifestyles for students; yoga and raw vegan cooking classes to name just a few! I volunteer with Green Action Society; working in their food coop eco-shop in the union and weather permitting, gardening in their allotments in Woodhouse Moor. Bardon Grange has been a fantastic platform for me to get involved in green activities on campus! Recently I ran a seed bomb making workshop with Bardon Grange project to sustainably recycle old seeds. It was fun, messy and hands on, I really enjoyed running the workshop and I hope to do more in the future. After Easter I plan to run more yoga events, healthy cooking classes, natural art workshops and get involved with the University of Leeds Sustainability Service!”

Creative Climate runner up – Caitlin Gautrey – ‘Climate Change’

This article was submitted by Caitlin Gautrey, a Year 8 student from John Smeaton Academy.

 

The effects of changing climate have had a huge impact on peoples livelihoods as well as wildlife and environment all around the world. Climate change has affected me because I wouldn’t know what could happen, you don’t know if it could be raining sunny or even snowy. Forest fires, also known as wildfire, continue to threaten already endangered species, such as Pikas, Tufted Puffins, green sea turtles and polar bears. Polar bears could disappear in the wild unless the pace of global warming slows down. Depending on sea ice, the animal uses it to float along the water to catch their prey, people believe that their ice caps are melting at a rate of 9% per decade, this is endangering the polar bears existence and is getting them closer to extinction. The Kynsa seahorse is extremely vulnerable to increases in water temperatures; in 1991, over 3,000 were found dead after heavy rainfall resulted in higher than normal temperatures. Increased flooding also puts the seahorses at risk. In 2003, the number of sea horses declined by about 85 percent, but there is anecdotal evidence that some populations are increasing. The Kaputar pink slug is only found on a specific mountain in Australia. Climate change is a major threat to it because increased temperatures will further restrict the slugs already small sub-alpine habitat. Having even a small increase in temperature could lead to a 55 percent habitat reduction. Several of Australia’s marsupials are at threatened by climate change. The Northern Hairy-Nose Wombats small population size makes random changes in climate or severe weather events a threat to them. Increased droughts can also hurt the wombats, since they lead to a competition with domesticated animals for food. Like the wombat, the Banded Hair wallaby faces threats from droughts; two reintroduction attempts failed due to droughts. In general, s rise in extreme weather events could harm the population, as they are located in a single bay in western Australia. Both whooping cranes are several types of Ibis are being threatened by climate change. A drought in 2009, which hurt the availability of several key food items for the crane, caused mortality rates to the double, it lowered breeding success by 50 percent. Mosquitoes carrying avian malaria are a major threat to the Akikiki, while they cannot currently survive in the equivalent as to where the Akikikis live, scientists are worried that rising temperatures could allow mosquitoes to thrive in Akikiki and pass on avain malaria. Forest fires/wildfire is where the forest is that dry from the sun, that every little spark can cause huge fires amongst the forest, this shows that the forest is totally dry because it hasn’t rained in that area for a while.

Climate change would cause regions to either become wetter, and others warmer. Sea levels will rise as glaciers melt, while some regions will be more at risk of heat waves, drought, flooding and natural disasters. Climate change could ruin food chains and ecosystems, putting whole species at risk of extinction.

IntoUniversity visit

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The Sustainability Service recently hosted a workshop for students from IntoUniversity (http://intouniversity.org/) on the importance of biodiversity.

The session started with an introductory activity on biodiversity and its importance, then the students were asked to become landscape designers for the day and design new flower beds for our campus, encouraging them to use their knowledge of different species and their role in the ecosystem. They were also given some guidance before designing the flower beds such as examples of plant species that could be planted on campus and incest species that could be attracted to the flowers.

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The workshop not only allowed the students to embrace their creativity, it allowed them to work in teams and make decisions together about the design of the flower beds.

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The 3 final winners will be picked soon and they will be planted at the entrance of the Parkinson building in spring to enhance biodiversity on campus. Don’t forget to follow our blog and social media accounts for updates on the designs.

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