This month fifteen UNT students--six from the College of Science--walked across the graduation stage with a unique cord demonstrating their dedication to environmental efforts and sustainability. With the Environmental Volunteerism Graduation Cord, the We Mean Green Fund (UNT's student-led sustainability initiative in the Division of Student Affairs) recognizes the volunteer efforts of students who promote environmental stewardship. To earn this cord, each of these students volunteered at least 75 hours during their time as a student at UNT.
"I believe it's brought awareness and inspiration to my community. Not because what I specifically did was inspirational, but because I was able to encourage my friends to take part in activities with me," said Victoria Lau, who just graduated with an Ecology major and an environmental volunteerism cord. "I was part of multiple clubs and committees, so every time I went to an event I made sure to bring a friend or two along. That's the best way to spread a sustainable life; encouraging your friends, family, and peers to be a part of it with you. We need to work together to change the world."
Student members of the UNT Fibers Collective specially customize and hand-dye the 100% natural cotton cords each year. The yellow base of the Spring 2019 graduation cords was created by immersing the cords in a dye bath of marigold flowers which were grown in the UNT Natural Dye Garden. The blue and green ends of the cord were infused with an indigo bath. Each growing season determines the available colors for the cord dyeing process.
Besides the general environmental volunteerism track, where students locate opportunities on campus and in the community to volunteer their time, there is also a LLELA volunteer track, dedicated to assisting with hands-on ecological restoration at the nearby research center and nature preserve at Lewisville Lake.
Kaitlynn Davis, a LLELA track graduate, dedicated her time to helping researchers track migratory patterns of birds at the area's Bird Banding Station. "I believe my volunteerism has provided key services in generating important data regarding North American migratory birds, which can be readily accessed by professionals and scientists alike and will facilitate research in avian conservation."
"While ecology and biology majors stand to get the most out of participating at LLELA through hands on Environmental stewardship, all students can benefit from being part of the activities," said Richard Freiheit, LLELA Restoration Manager and volunteer coordinator. "Through the projects at LLELA, students are learning skills that help prepare them for future careers in Environmental endeavors."
There are currently 62 students registered for the program. Information about the tracks and registration can be found on the UNT We Mean Green Fund website: https://studentaffairs.unt.edu/we-mean-green-fund/programs/environmental-volunteerism-cord