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Adding Data Analytics Value to your Position

By Rocky Hickey, Data Analytics Intern

Often, we assume that conservation and sustainability is only to be found in the outdoors among the plants and wildlife, but it can also be found within our daily lives in the energy and resources we use, which have consequential impacts on the outside world. A crucial component of any organization’s efforts to measure its success in sustainability is analyzing how it is currently doing and what areas it could improve in to be more successful and that’s where data analytics can be crucially useful.

Where We Started

Creating a greener campus and organization is always an ongoing work in progress where one can seldom say that we have reached our goal and cannot improve the environment we inhabit. A more common question is: “what do we prioritize first?” As discussed, resource use costs money, time, and sometimes the well-being of the environment, so being able to outline to an organization the best and most effective ways to positively benefit sustainability are vital to ensuring resources are being efficiently used. One of the primary ways that I assist the Sustainability Office is by creating and organizing campus building energy data into formats to make it easier to gather insights from it. At times, this means pulling data from historic sources on Excel spreadsheets and cleaning that data up into more machine-readable forms in a predefined Excel table.

Typical source data format
Machine-readable format

This process can seem daunting at first, but often is one of the easiest portions of my job and I think most people, if trained correctly, would also find it relatively easy. It is the portion of data analytics that takes up well over 90% of time and energy, converting and creating what we have as data into something that we can plug into a website or piece of software that can analyze and interpret it. This conversion in data types might seem a bit mundane at first, but consider this: which of the data below would you rather interpret?

Energy Use Data Visualization courtesy of Energy Star Portfolio Manager
Utility Summary of Natural Gas Data

The above examples aren’t meant to knock on how data was gathered and interpreted previously. If anything, the first visualization would not be possible had the prior work never been done in the first place, but it highlights how additional development and refinement to the data on hand can create stories that were previously hiding under an assortment of cells and rows. This work can open up many doors into creating efficiencies in energy use on campus and narrow down issues that might have previously been known but understood poorly. Visualizations like the one above are truly just the beginning of the work data analytics can do for any organization’s data, but to keep things simple I’ll stick to how any employee can provide data analytics value to their job.

How Can I Help?

Without getting too far into the weeds of how one technically performs data analytics, I think there are some general ways in which anyone can provide value in this critical area of business operations.

Keep your data in an organized electronic form

Barring any privacy or legal concerns, one of the first and easiest points of data analytics is maintaining an organized electronic file of the data that you perceive as having value. Having data on member participation, recycling rates, or a survey in physical form will prevent deep dives into data analytics, so convert relevant data and maintain that data in a logical and organized way. When I say logical and organized way, I mean within the confines of an appropriate data structure for that data. If it’s numerical data, keep that data within the confines of a structured spreadsheet with well-defined columns and rows.

File Organization and Process Documentation is Essential

Once we have the data within the confines of a spreadsheet, now we need  to make sure we know what this data is describing and when. The energy used to create the spreadsheet should also match the energy to maintain a clear and organized file folder. File folders where each spreadsheet can find its appropriate home will help future data analysis on an underlying file because there is a clear source file to work with that is accurately and appropriately described.

Keep It Simple & Get Creative

As I said before, it is a common misbelief that since we’re doing data analytics we have to get into the weeds of complex formulas, macros, and data analytical tools. Sometimes the most straightforward way to answer a question about underlying data is just to visualize the data. There are many ways to visualize a spreadsheet. Internal to the spreadsheet program, both Google Sheets and Excel have built-in visualization tools such as pivot tables and chart functions, but there are a couple free external tools (for students) that allow for more flexibility and depth if needed. PowerBI and Tableau are both powerful software platforms that allow individuals and organizations to create striking stories about their data and I recommend anyone to poke around with the software to get comfortable using them and learn the visualization portion of data analytics. Lastly, when keeping it simple, make sure to keep the process for recording information into your spreadsheets relatively straightforward and documented in some manner. Often our spreadsheets outlive the job we may be currently working as college students, so it is important to have some semblance of simplicity for yourself and other coworkers to maintain the work you have done.

Microsoft PowerBI Example

Personal Guidelines for Data Analytics

As a passing point, I think that if you intend on participating in data analytics it is important to keep these points in mind while you work towards creating data structures for your organization’s data.

  • Be patient – Data analytics is a marathon, not a race, in the way a newly planted tree may take years to grow into a fully mature tree, so it’s important to know that most of the work you will do will be in answering a relatively small number of questions in relation to the amount of data you gather. Be focused on the health and integrity of the data you are developing and its role within your organization, not just what it can immediately do now.
  • Be an avid learner – Data analytics can be a difficult process when you encounter roadblocks that you’ve never had to overcome before. Being able to search an error code or look into the help section of a software to answer a question isn’t an admission of defeat, it’s a highlight of your perseverance in getting things to work
  • Have fun with it – I have had many times where I put in several hours processing a long list of spreadsheets into a working input for PowerBI visualization and it wouldn’t work, but when I did get it to work and I got to see the visualizations that I could create, the work I did to create that was well worth the wait. So, don’t get overly frustrated, it’s all part of the process and look for the light at the end of the tunnel

If you are able to follow the guidance above and keep in mind those important components of maintaining good data you will be well on your way into introducing data analytics into your work.

Recap of March – Women in Sustainability Month

By Gabby Pogantsch – Outreach Intern

Hello everyone! It’s Gabby here with a recap of March. What a crazy month is has been as we’re already enjoying our wonderful Earth Month celebrations. In March, we focused our content on Women in Sustainability Month and tied black women/creators in sustainability into this theme as we just celebrated Black History Month in February. Ashley and I released two new podcast episodes this month titled ‘danner, doc martens & more’ and ‘the (wo)man, the myth, the legend.’ These two episodes were dedicated to answering questions about sustainability and environmentalism overall and episode 5, ‘the (wo)man, the myth, the legend,’ featured Maryam Enterline, who is a woman of color that incorporates many amazing sustainable practices in her lifestyle. She is a super interesting lady who founded and runs her own business, Enterline Designs. Maryam and her husband, who also happens to be our boss, have also visited all of the state parks in Wisconsin, so tune in to that episode to learn more about her and her adventures! All of our podcast episodes are located on anchor.fm/theconsciouslypowerful

We just finished up our first Earth Month events, including a new one called Wellness in the Nature Preserve. This event featured many local wellness groups, such as Active Minds, Brienne Brown Yoga, Community Health in Practice (CHIP), University Health and Counseling Services, Whitewater Grocery Co., and Working for Whitewater’s Wellness (W3) tabling with some great information and resources. We held three different sessions on introductory yoga, meditation, and a quick prairie tour to practice mindfulness in nature. You can find our whole list of Earth Month events at our website. Events go until Friday, April 30th and include many events hosted by Whitewater Student Government during their Sustainability Week. 

With coming up on my graduation in May, I’ve been focusing a lot on finding jobs in the sustainability and environmental field and this last year and a half at the office has been my saving grace when it comes to defining my ‘personal mission’ while applying for new positions. The Sustainability Office has been an internship where I’m allowed the opportunity to show what I’m capable of doing all while working on amazing projects like the podcast and a full Earth Month event calendar. 

Reflecting back on my time here, it has urged me to explore many different work environments from testing water in a stream, growing a massive garden, tabling at campus events and planning events behind a computer screen. Writing a ‘recap’ can be difficult when there’s so many amazing things to point out that we do every day in the office. 

I hope the month of March has brought you all many great things and I can’t wait to see where the rest of this semester takes us! 🙂 

Recapping Black History Month along with Our environmental Racism and Social Justice Campaign

By Jessica Sponholtz, Digital Marketing Intern

I’ll be the first to say that the year of 2020 was eye-opening for me in terms of the racial injustices faced by people of color, especially Black Americans. I’ve always been relatively informed of recent hate crimes and major events involving racism, such as the murders of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. However, after the world shut down some of our usual distractions and George Floyd was brutally murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis just a couple months later, the whole world, including myself, was forced to finally pay attention. Protests erupted all over the world in defense of Black lives and the movement became shockingly polarizing as the phrase “Black Lives Matter” became more politically charged than ever before. We learned about the stories of Breonna Taylor, Philando Castille, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, Tamir Rice and so many more individuals who mercilessly lost their lives at the hands of injustice, seemingly for the “crime of being Black.”

Millions of Americans also started asking, “How can we help?” We took to the streets in the form of protesting, signing petitions, sending donations, and educating our fellow citizens regarding the history of racism within our nation. As the momentum died down and other worldly news took over our screens, it became apparent that many instances of activism were simply performative. The challenge we all face is to stay engaged in the work of “antiracism,” as Dr. Ibram X. Kendi identifies it, as simply being “not racist” is passive and we need active antiracism to fight for social justice.

“How to be an Antiracist” by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi. You can also watch many of his lectures and keynote addresses online, which are very engaging and thought-provoking.

The UW-Whitewater Sustainability Office set an intention to educate allies through a marketing campaign targeting environmental racism and social justice initiatives throughout Black History Month. As we reach the end of Black History Month 2021, we want to reflect on the information we’ve learned and the feelings we’ve experienced. Here are just a few examples of systemic racism faced by Black Americans:

  • Lower employment-population ratio
  • Higher unemployment rate (especially during COVID-19)
  • Under-representation in high-paying jobs, corporate hierarchy, government, etc
  • Wage and income disparities
  • More likely to get denied for loans
  • Low home ownership rate
  • Disparity in healthcare and education
  • Higher imprisonment and incarceration rates.

https://www.businessinsider.com/us-systemic-racism-in-charts-graphs-data-2020-6

In addition to some of these familiar measures, environmental racism is one of the many ways systemic racism is practiced in our society. According to the NAACP,  “race is the number one indicator for the placement of toxic facilities in this country.” Environmental racism is just as prominent as other forms of discrimination, and can be found in the forms of:

  • Higher exposure rates to air pollution
  • Lead poisoning (ex: Flint, Michigan)
  • More likely to experience the effects of climate change such as extreme weather and natural disasters
  • Higher rates of water contamination
  • Neighborhoods more often located in and/or near landfills, hazardous waste sites, and industrial facilities
  • Food deserts

https://cejapower.medium.com/defining-environmental-justice-communities-using-calenviroscreen-in-state-policy-4d1f350b3207

When we think of real-life examples of environmental injustices and racism, certain communities such as Flint, Michigan, Warren County, North Carolina, and Cancer Alley, Louisiana come to mind. However, from oil refineries and air pollution to neglected water systems, public health around the country is jeopardized by negligence and discrimniation in the form of environmental hazards in many communities, disproportionately affecting communities of color.  

Environmental justice is the solution to environmental racism. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines environmental justice as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” Policies that promote environmental justice will help us address the impacts of environmental racism and there are several organizations working toward these goals. For example, Green Action is an organization dedicated to health and environmental justice through cleaning up contaminated sites, protecting sacred land, and securing clean air and water for all. They define environmental racism as “the institutional rules, regulations, policies or government and/or corporate decisions that deliberately target certain communities for locally undesirable land uses and lax enforcement of zoning and environmental laws, resulting in communities being disproportionately exposed to toxic and hazardous waste based upon race.”

As part of our environmental and social justice campaign during Black History Month, our podcast hosts, Ashley Roscoe and Gabby Pogantsch, interviewed a couple of people who play a big role in equality and diversity on campus. Episode 2 features an interview with Dr. Kenny Yarbrough, UW-Whitewater’s Chief Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Officer. Dr. KEY encourages members of campus to take accountability to the next level and call out injustice when we see it. He shares his thoughts on intersectionality, defined as multiple social identities residing in one person.

Kenny Yarborough, the assistant vice chancellor of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, at the UW-Whitewater 2020 Unity Walk in September. (photo credit Craig Schreiner/UWW)

In episode 3, our hosts sat down with Jaida, an executive-board member for Black Student Union (BSU) on campus. Jaida goes into the history of BSU and how it inspires her to take on this leadership role through events such as the Unity Walk and her position on Whitewater Student Government. She talks about her role as an advocate for minority students and the importance of accountability in predominantly white institutions. Stay tuned for the “Say Their Name” exhibit featured in the Roberta’s Art Gallery during April.

Jaida Shellaugh-Russell, who organized the Unity Walk, is the director of public relations for BSU and the director of student affairs for Whitewater Student Government. (photo credit Craig Schreiner/UWW)

Education and activism play a huge role in dismantling systemic racism, but is often just the starting point for antiracist actions. For example, monetary donations benefit local organizations who help disadvantaged members of our communities. If you have the resources, please consider researching and supporting any of the following local organizations:

Most importantly, the work of an antiracist does not end on March 1 of every year. Black History Month is an important recognition of what African-Americans have faced through the legacy of slavery and unequal treatment throughout the course of our country’s history. Even now, we find this work must continue in earnest. We hope the content we shared in February is just a starting point for those that follow our digital platforms to find other ways to get involved in the fight for environmental justice. Commit your time, money, and voice to this cause by maintaining active involvement as an ally and advocate for social justice by connecting with the great organizations that focus on this work, but don’t just leave the work to them. We all need to fight for this change, for a more just and sustainable world.

The UW-Whitewater 2020 Unity Walk safely brought members of the community together for Black Lives Matter. (photo credit Craig Schreiner/UWW)

Waste and recycling at uw-whitewater

By Makenna Beland, Waste and Recycling Intern with contributions from Wes Enterline, Sustainability Director

The UW-Whitewater main campus has been working hard to reduce waste by creating a more consistent program in 2020. Recently, the Sustainability Office implemented the Waste Bin Reduction project, in which consistent common area waste bins were systematically labeled and placed on campus. This project allows students and faculty to easily identify which bins are sent to the landfill and which are recycled. These community waste bins also reduce the amount of smaller office and classroom waste bins that the custodial staff need to service and sort through to dispose of items correctly. The proper sorting of landfilled materials and recyclable materials will reduce the amount of contamination within UW-Whitewater’s recycling stream and reduce the amount of recyclable material incorrectly placed into the landfill bins on campus. 

New recycling labels from Recycle Across America
New trash labels from Recycle Across America

Often, there is a misconception that “waste all goes to the same place” because the dumpsters look similar and are serviced by similar trucks. However, our waste hauler has incentive to improve recycling because the stream generates revenue, while we are required to pay for disposal of items by paying a “tipping fee” for landfill space. We also often hear of complaints that the custodial staff “does not recycle” because it appears they put all of the bags into one receptacle when they remove them from the bins. This is simply a convenience for them to avoid bringing two cans on their routes so they can sort the items at the dumpster. If you are curious to see what our traditional recycling rates look like, please see our spreadsheet (slightly out of date with the transition to a new waste hauler in 2020).

On the other hand, many people have a strong habit to recycle and engage in something called “wishcycling.” This term means items are being put into the recycling stream when they should be directed to the landfill. The most common source of confusion here is related to plastic materials, as there are many different types (called polymers, denoted by the number with the chasing arrows on plastic items). The chasing arrows do NOT mean the item is always recyclable and polymer numbers matter.

For example, recyclers have traditionally taken #1 and #2 plastics which make up a variety of common household plastic bottles. #5 plastics are now more common in items like yogurt containers, although traditionally they’ve been used for more durable products. These bottles and containers with screw on, snap on, or peel off lids are also easier for the sorting machines to handle. On the other hand, it is rare for #3, #4, or #6 plastics to be used as containers. Often these are trays, films (like plastic bags), and other plastic packaging that is difficult to process into recycled plastic. Finally, #7 is a catch-all category where eco-friendly alternatives like plant-based plastics occur. Rarely are these materials recyclable because many are designed to break down more easily or apply to specialty plastics like nylon. Your best bet with plastics is to avoid them as much as possible, as even the more durable recyclable plastics have more limited use as recycled products.

Currently, UW-Whitewater is participating in a Trex recycling program to collect more than 500 pounds of plastic bags in a six-month span to receive a high-performance composite bench for the campus. There are collection bins located in Starin, Wells, Arey-Fricker, Hyland, and Upham Halls. Please bring your plastic wrap, film, bags, and others listed on their website to help us meet our goal! Please make sure the plastic is free of debris and residue.

The Whitewater campus also offers a variety of collections for universal waste, including rechargeable batteries, small electronic waste such as cell phones and wires or cables, CDs, DVDs, other physical media, and printer cartridges. There is a bin in the University Center near the Information Desk for the campus to use. Additionally, all batteries picked up by FP&M staff are properly recycled if sent back with surplus items from departments, and iCIT recycles all electronics if requested from the Help Desk. For large-sized or large quantities of printer cartridges that don’t fit into the UC collection bin, these items can also be brought directly to the iCIT Help Desk in Andersen Hall.

Battery recycling station at FP&M Stores Receiving Dock.

In order to promote proper recycling practices, UW-Whitewater is participating in the Campus Race to Zero Waste Competition between the months of February and March. The mission of this friendly competition is to provide tools and opportunities that inspire, empower, and mobilize colleges and universities to benchmark and improve efforts to reduce or eliminate waste. This year, one of the main focuses of the Campus Race to Zero Waste is the reduction of plastic use on campuses. Plastic waste can have a negative impact on wild and marine life, including in our own local lakes, rivers, streams and ponds. Microplastics are extremely small pieces of plastic debris in the environment that can find their way into drinking water and can be consumed by local wildlife. Want to know how you can help? Here are a few tips on how you can reduce your plastic waste on campus.

Campus Race to Zero Waste was formerly known as RecycleMania
  1. Carry your own reusable water bottle or drink container while on campus.
  2. Say no to the straw or bring your own reusable straw.
  3. When purchasing items on campus, place them in your backpack or bring a reusable bag with you.
  4. Recycle plastic items when possible, being mindful of the considerations listed above.
  5. Spread the word! Remind your friends, families and professors about how they can reduce their plastic waste.

Spring 2021: Sustainability campaigns & New platforms

As winter snowfalls surge and the pandemic drags on, boredom, anxiety and isolation continue to dictate many aspects of our lives. We’ve baked our banana bread and streamed endless TV shows all while navigating a strange election and instances of social injustice. 2020 was a year of coping and adaptation as many of us felt unsure, afraid, and even a little lost. Generally, the Sustainability Office serves as a tool to improve the education and awareness of environmental sustainability issues, but we’re taking that a step further this semester.

In honor of Black History Month, we have dedicated the month of February to a campaign surrounding environmental racism and social justice issues facing the Black community and other people of color. During March, we will conduct another campaign dedicated to women in sustainability to recognize the inspiring women who play a huge role in environmental advocacy. Finally, the month of April is designated to Earth Month! Last years’s Earth Day (the 50th anniversary) was overshadowed by other global trepidations, so this year’s April is dedicated to virtual resources and education surrounding the important day. Featuring various resources and perspectives, these campaigns aim to expand the conversation surrounding intersectional sustainability. Stayed tune to hear from our other interns as they offer their own perspectives through future individual blog posts.

Educational campaigns aren’t the only new development coming to the Sustainability Office this semester. Introducing…our new TikTok account and a Podcast! TikTok is a social media platform consisting of one-minute long videos. Find us on TikTok (@uwwsustainability) for sustainable living tips and office updates. If you listen to podcasts and you’re interested in all things sustainability…we’ve got the perfect one for you! “the consciously powerful” dives deep into environmental advocacy from lifestyle choices to intersectional feminism. It’s available on both Spotify and Anchor; stay tuned for episode drops on Fridays!

UW-Whitewater Commits to Climate Action through Creation of Task Forces

Contact:

Wesley Enterline

Sustainability Director, Facilities Planning & Management

262-472-6709, sustainability@uww.edu

WHITEWATER, WI., December 1, 2020 — As part of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s initiative to address the university’s impact on climate change, the Sustainability Council is requesting individuals from the university and broader community to learn more about and consider participating in a Climate Action Task Force in Spring 2021.

This effort was initiated by shared governance leadership from Whitewater Student Government and the Faculty Senate to ask Chancellor Dwight Watson to consider signing the Presidents’ Climate Commitment, a plan administered by Second Nature. The Climate Commitment challenges university leadership to  address the institution’s contributions to climate change by developing a greenhouse gas inventory, engaging a community task force, and creating a resilience assessment and climate action plan. Chancellor Watson signed the Climate Commitment in December 2019.

Three task forces will convene to address distinct approaches to addressing climate change and resiliency. The Energy and Operations Task Force centers around the university’s overall environmental footprint, such as its energy consumption and other sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The Academic Engagement Task Force focuses on research, curriculum, and general university engagement on related topics. The Community and Resiliency Task Force targets community engagement, regional adaptation, and resilience. Potential overlapping goals include achieving a climate neutrality date, determining milestones for increasing resiliency measures, and expanding awareness of issues attributed to or amplified by climate change.     

Membership is open to anyone interested in addressing climate change through your individual identities, perspectives, and various areas and levels of expertise. We are seeking individuals from a wide range of campus and community representatives to ensure diversity and inclusion of many stakeholder perspectives. If you are interested in this effort  and want to learn more about any of them, fill out the survey and you will be invited to a future informational session to describe next steps and involvement opportunities.  Please share with any friends and colleagues you think might be interested as well: https://tinyurl.com/climatetaskforce.

Join the sustainability office’s team of fall interns

Every semester, we are excited to offer some internship opportunities to UW-Whitewater undergraduates seeking experience in project management, campus engagement, and best practices research across a wide range of focus areas related to campus sustainability. Our internships are designed to run semester to semester, although many of our interns are able to maintain their paid internship positions throughout the course of the academic year. Every fall, our entire slate of active positions are opened for us to consider new applicants.

This year the COVID-19 pandemic will pose some challenges and limits to our ability to host events and campus activities, but all of our positions incorporate some remote work opportunities along with safe, socially distanced, and COVID-aware accommodations to help our students complete their internships successfully and in good health. Please take a look at the brief descriptions below and click the links to see the full job posting on Handshake to consider applying for one or more positions.

The number of internship positions available each semester varies based on the projects and priorities of the Sustainability Office. This photo is of our Fall 2019 Sustainability Office team.

Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing The primary responsibility of this internship is to develop and coordinate exciting content for various digital platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and this blog! Students will be expected to utilize engaging features to tell the story of environmental initiatives at UW-Whitewater by covering events to generate new and relevant content, and adhere to social media brand guidelines. Applicants should submit a portfolio of previous work. This internship is perfect for a Marketing major and will work with a UW-Whitewater alum with a BBA in Marketing, but various majors have been successful as long as they bring their creativity to the position.

Environmental Outreach

Environmental Outreach – This is a new internship position responsible for managing our citizen science program participation, which includes stream monitoring for the Water Action Volunteers program. There are other citizen science programs being considered for ongoing participation and engagement of the campus community and general public. The projects will also include developing trail signage to help transform the UW-Whitewater Nature Preserve into a more park-like environment for visitors to learn and explore. The position is great for an Environmental Science or related major interested in work as a nature educator or park interpretive guide.

Grounds Management

Grounds Management – This position has grown considerably in scope to encompass opportunities understanding how to better manage the ecosystems found on the UW-Whitewater campus. The primary focus will be developing a management plan for the UW-Whitewater Nature Preserve with coordination from faculty experts in the area. This intern is also involved in aspects of tree care related to our campus arboreta, specifically the Salisbury Idea and 50 Trees for 50 Years of Earth Day campaign. Interested students should either have a strong background or interest in identifying a wide variety of plant life and a responsible self-starter to manage restoration projects according to best practices.

Waste and Recycling

Waste and Recycling – As UW-Whitewater starts a new waste hauling contract with Advanced Disposal and finishes the roll-out of the Waste Bin Reduction program, this position will focus on outreach and education resources related to communicating with campus users how best to recycle various materials. The intern is also typically involved in developing pilot composting programs and gets involved with hands-on work to implement new signage and bin placements. This internship is ideal for a student newer to sustainability as waste/recycling issues are often the best identifiable aspect of campus sustainability in operations.

Sustainability interns, Emily and Ashley, checking on milkweed plants at the prairie.

Garden and Greenhouse Manager

Garden and Greenhouse Manager – This position carries a higher level of responsibility and expectation for independent work as you manage two of our remote locations on campus: Upham Greenhouse and the Campus Garden. Students will start by learning how to properly care for plants in the botanical collection of the greenhouse, propagate houseplants for fundraising sales, learning how to manage an aging facility with plenty of “quirks,” and maintaining a clean and orderly environment for greenhouse users. Spring semester is focused mainly on propagating plants for the spring plant sale and Campus Garden planting for the 2021 season. The position will include full-time hours in Summer 2021 and is not subject to Fall 2021 renewal. Students hired for this position must have a graduation date of December 2021 or later for consideration. Interviews will include participating in a two-hour volunteer session at the Campus Garden with the 2020 Garden and Greenhouse Manager.

Transportation

TransportationTransportation programs at UW-Whitewater have grown in a wide variety of ways and our intern primarily focuses on methods that are most frequently used by students, including bicycling, walking, and other forms of non-motorized transport to and around campus. Besides promotional activities, the intern will use the Bicycle Friendly University assessment to guide future recommendations. The intern will also assist with promoting ridership in the carpooling service Zimride and the Warhawk Shuttle services. Students with an interest in urban planning might find some of the considerations for transportation planning a good fit for future careers.

Data Analytics

Data Analytics – This internship will focus primarily on improving the overall data collection methodology utilized by the Sustainability Office, including data management for the STARS sustainability assessment to be conducted in 2021. This intern will also utilize the Energy Star Portfolio Manager to curate utility data for the university and explore development of a data visualization platform (either Tableau or Microsoft Power BI). This specialized internship is ideal for a student studying Business Analytics or degree programs in the Computer Science Department.

Summer Stream Monitoring Continues

Written by Ashley Roscoe

Happy Summer! My name is Ashley, and I am the Stream Monitoring Coordinator at the UW-Whitewater Sustainability Office. I took over the monitoring program last fall, and have enjoyed every minute of it! Our program has run under the Water Action Volunteers program since 2013, in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Normally, we will have volunteers come out to sessions to learn about the program and participate in conducting tests. As soon as the University switched to remote learning due to COVID, we suspended volunteer participation. I have still been going out three times a month (each stream gets monitoring once a month), sometimes with the help of garden and greenhouse manager, Cam.

Cam emptying the net full of pebbles and critters. This is used to conduct the biotic index portion of the Stream Monitoring program.

A new addition to our program has been nutrient monitoring! While we are out at our three creeks (Spring Brook at Willow Brook Golf Course, Bluff Creek at Hwy P, and Whitewater Creek at Fremont St Bridge), we now collect a sample of water. We mix in a small amount of Sulfuric Acid, and then send the sample to the State of Wisconsin Hygiene Lab. From this water sample, the amount of nutrients are able to be calculated. This data is used to determine trends in the waterway, and are able to establish a baseline nutrient level.

Plain Pocketbook Mussel (Lampsilis Cardium)

Along with baseline monitoring and nutrient monitoring, we also participate in the Mussel Monitoring Program through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. We mainly search for mussels in Whitewater Creek. Over half of the 52 mussel species in Wisconsin need conservation assistance or we need more information on the location of the species. Through this program, we locate mussels, take photos of the mussels, determine species located, take counts of numbers per species, and then we report these mussels to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. This program helps track mussel populations throughout the state! Mussel populations in Wisconsin were decimated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries due to the button industry. This program helps ensure populations are staying at consistent, healthy numbers. 

To learn more about the stream monitoring program, watch our youtube video that outlines more of the program! You can also visit https://wateractionvolunteers.org or https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/SurfaceWater/monitor.html for more information! If you are interested in volunteering with us for stream monitoring, contact the Sustainability Office at sustainability@uww.edu

UW-Whitewater Joins Monarch Watch and Receives Free Milkweed for Monarch Waystation

The UW-Whitewater Sustainability Office is excited to extend our commitment to local wildlife by joining the Monarch Watch to establish the UW-Whitewater Nature Preserve as a Monarch Waystation and expand the value of this habitat by planting nearly 400 milkweed plants, including swamp (asclepias incarnata), common (asclepias syriaca), and butterfly weed (asclepias tuberosa), through the Monarch Watch’s Bring Back the Monarchs program. This generous contribution from the Monarch Watch is valued at approximately $1,000 and will support countless monarchs for the Whitewater community to enjoy. Our Sustainability Office Grounds Intern, Emily, identified this opportunity and completed the application.

Monarch Watch is a nonprofit education, conservation, and research program based at the University of Kansas that focuses on the monarch butterfly, its habitat, and its spectacular fall migration. The mission statement of Monarch Watch is “to provide the public with information about the biology of monarch butterflies, their spectacular migration, and how to use monarchs to further science education in primary and secondary schools. We engage in research on monarch migration biology and monarch population dynamics to better understand how to conserve the monarch migration. We also promote protection of monarch habitats throughout North America.”

Photo credit UW-Whitewater/Craig Schreiner

UW-Whitewater is also be participating in the Monarch Waystation program and adding signage around campus to identify areas that are similar to the main Monarch Waystation in the reconstructed prairie of the UW-Whitewater Nature Preserve.  You can help by creating “Monarch Waystations” (monarch habitats) in home gardens, at schools, businesses, parks, zoos, nature centers, along roadsides, and on other unused plots of land. Creating a Monarch Waystation can be as simple as adding milkweeds and nectar sources to existing gardens or maintaining natural habitats with milkweeds. No effort is too small to have a positive impact. 

The UW-Whitewater Nature Preserve is 100 acres total, with about 55 acres being reconstructed as a prairie habitat.  We are rebuilding the area as a brand new prairie, so the oldest parts of our prairie are only 25 years old. Pesticide-free maintenance, controlled burns, and prairie seed collection conducted by the Sustainability Office and Grounds Crew results in a healthy, natural space filled with a diverse array of native plant species for humans and wildlife to enjoy. Learn more about our fall volunteer activities collecting prairie seed.

Emily plants milkweed along the accessible path into the prairie reconstruction.

We already have several species of milkweed in the Nature Preserve, including whorled, common, and swamp milkweed.  These plants are important for monarch larvae to eat, which is what most people think about when they think of monarchs. We also have a lot of flowering native prairie species, especially different types of goldenrod, that are important sources of nectar to adult butterflies.  When the goldenrod blooms in late summer, usually around mid-September, the prairie is filled with hundreds of monarchs!  It is not uncommon to see dozens of them in a small area feeding on the nectar of goldenrods.

Photo credit Wesley Enterline

Common milkweed (A. syriaca) grows in sandy, clayey, or rocky calcareous soils. It occurs along the banks or flood plains of lakes, ponds, and waterways, in prairies, forest margins, roadsides, and waste places. Swamp milkweed (A. incarnata) is a tall plant with fragrant, showy clusters of pink and light purple flowers. It does well in landscape plantings with moist soil and in plantings near bodies of water. Unlike many ornamentals, swamp milkweed tolerates heavy clay soils and is very deer-resistant. It is a more cultivated alternative to common milkweed that is also attractive to egg-laying Monarchs. Butterfly milkweed (A. tuberosa) is ideal in semi-dry places where it can spread without presenting problems for other ornamental species. Butterfly milkweed does well in sandy, loamy, or rocky calcareous soils of prairies, roadsides, and waste places.

Please consider visiting the UW-Whitewater Nature Preserve at the Hoffman Kiosk to enjoy our reconstructed prairie and stay on the lookout for monarchs in all phases of their life cycle!

New CSA Program From the Campus Garden

Receive fresh produce from the Campus Garden throughout the growing season with the UW-Whitewater CSA program. Members will receive weekly shares of produce from the student managed garden which produces over 2,000 pounds of vegetables and fruit each year using practices in line with organic growing methods. This blog post includes information about the Campus Garden CSA, why to consider supporting, how it works, and how to join!

Photo: UW-Whitewater/Craig Schreiner

What is a CSA?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and allows consumers to purchase produce directly from the farmer. Individuals pay for a “member share” upfront, early in the year in exchange for freshly harvested goods throughout the growing season. There are numerous types of CSA’s that offer a variety of goods. For more information, visit https://www.csacoalition.org.

Why Join the UWW CSA?

Support the UW-Whitewater Campus Garden Program – The Campus Garden provides hands-on learning experiences for the students managing the garden as well as the volunteers that help maintain it. This space allows us to tangibly communicate the importance of locally sourced food while teaching gardening methods in line with organic production. Additionally, excess produce generated from the Campus Garden is provided to local food pantries to support individuals in the community.  Funds raised from the CSA program will help provide materials and labor needed to continue the Campus Garden program. 

Convenient and Fresh Produce That Follows the Season – All produce provided in the weekly shares is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers and harvested within the last 24 hours from the Campus Garden. Produce is stored in refrigerated conditions in the Warhawk Pantry and is easily accessible to nearby parking.  The vegetables you receive will vary week-to-week depending on what is in season and ready to harvest, offering CSA members with new experiences mixed with traditional favorites. Garden production will increase throughout the course of the season and peak in mid-August. 

Weekly Member Mailings – In addition to the produce, members will also receive updates from the gardening team as well as with delicious recipes and proper storage techniques.

Photo: UW-Whitewater/Craig Schreiner

How Does the UWW CSA Work?

Harvest – Starting late June or early July, UW-Whitewater Sustainability Office student employees and volunteers will harvest produce every Tuesday and deliver it to the Warhawk Panty. From there, the employees will distribute the produce equally between each of the member’s crates. All member shares will receive the same types of produce with approximately equal amounts. 

Pick up – Members will pick up their produce from the Warhawk Pantry each Wednesday between 3-5 PM. Members will place the items from the crate (labeled with their name) and place them in a tote bag, leaving the crate at the Warhawk Pantry.  Members will be provided with a large reusable tote bag the first week and asked to bring a bag with them each week for picking up their produce. This process will continue for the next 14 weeks (July 1 through mid-October) or until the first killing frost of fall. The final pickup date will be determined by staff and communicated via email based on growing conditions as the season winds down.

Join the UW-Whitewater CSA

  1. Sign up for Membership. Click here to submit your member interest form. We are offering ten member shares for the first season of the UW-Whitewater CSA program. Memberships will be assigned in the order that inquiries are received and considered filled once payment is received. Please note, submitting a member interest form does not guarantee you will receive a CSA membership. Once all ten memberships have been offered we will begin a waitlist.
  2. Check your Email. An email will be sent to the address listed on your sign up form. This email will state whether you are offered a membership or are on the waitlist along with the corresponding next steps. 
  3. Make Payment. If offered a membership, you will need to pay the $300 in full by Monday, June 22. If your payment is not received by this time, your membership offer will be withdrawn and transferred to the next individual on the waitlist. More instructions on how to make a payment will be included in the membership offering email.
  4. Pickup Starting 7/1. Keep an eye out for an email from sustainability@uww.edu with detailed instructions for picking up your weekly share each Wednesday from 3-5 PM at the Warhawk Pantry in Drumlin Dining Hall. Each week we’ll send you a reminder email with instructions for pickup and parking along with recipes and storage tips for the produce items received that week.