Starting Young because Tomorrow's Environment Matters

Monday, August 24, 2015
Written by:
Shelby Janke photo
Shelby Janke photo
Name: Shelby Janke
Academic Year: Sophomore
Major: Global Studies and Spanish
From: Kearney, Nebraska

Shelby has had an interest in environmental sustainability since she was a young girl. She enjoys being outdoors, traveling, and knitting. When she is not working with the Environmental Leadership Program, she also volunteers her time for Launch Leadership.

What motivated you to be a professional in this field?

I cannot pinpoint the moment that sustainability became a priority of mine, but it has always made absolute sense to me. Since I was a young girl, I sought out ways to conserve and be resourceful. I am thrilled that UNL provides students with the opportunities to not only make campus more sustainable but to inform and educate the community about this kind of progress, as well. I believe sustainability relates to every single discipline taught at UNL in some way.

What is your role in UNL’s environmental sustainability efforts?

This year I am serving as the Director of the Environmental Leadership Program (ELP), which organizes events throughout the school year to promote sustainable practices and to educate and inform the student body on ways they can act and live sustainably while studying at UNL. I served on the Earthstock committee last year and will continue to work with the Earthstock team. Earthstock is a month-long celebration of the Earth in April, consisting of events like documentary showings, art exhibits, and speakers. It concludes with a festival on Earth Day.

How has this role changed since you began?

Sustainability has become a more progressive effort in higher education systems throughout the nation, and ELP will grow and impact campus in greater ways as sustainability becomes a topic of conversation, both among the student body and within ASUN. With such action on campus, students are able to reach out into the city of Lincoln and beyond with the skills and passion to serve the community in a resourceful, kind and progressive way. Earthstock has been taking place for four years each spring and continues to blossom and change with innovative technology, collaboration between UNL student groups, creative new ideas, and hard-working, passionate team members.

What is your favorite sustainable thing to do?

I think the most fulfilling sustainable activity is simply spending time outdoors, appreciating what Earth has given us and how we can actively appreciate and respect it. Only in a natural environment can we quietly reflect on ourselves and how we treat our surroundings, our communities and neighbors.

Do you regularly recycle, compost, and use water-saving techniques at home?

Since I was a young girl, I was very passionate about recycling and reusing materials. I’ve continued to implement recycling and water-saving techniques in my dorm room, sorority and with other organizations. I use reusable water bottles each day and try to limit shower times to the length of a song or two. In addition, I try to be mindful of the items that I purchase and where they will end up in a week, a month, a year or several years. As a consumer, it is important that we take into account how products are made, who they were made by, and how those people were treated. Then we must imagine the product’s impact on the environment.

If someone were to ask you about a sustainability tip or tips related to your profession what would that be?

I think my piece of advice would be to take advantage of the resources and connections that are around you. At UNL, student organizations can work together and provide one another with the services they may need. UNL provides many resources for sustainable programming, as well. In fact, it is possible for any student organization to plan an event that is completely waste-free, meaning all materials can be composted, recycled or reused, with no trash. UNL Waste Management has all of the tools necessary to successfully complete an event like this, free of charge.

 How can the UNL community help you in your role?

Awareness and participation are more than enough for all sustainability efforts at UNL to thrive. I encourage students and faculty to get out there and learn something new, whether it is to attend ELP’s Sustainability Roundtable or attend an event sponsored by Earthstock.