Preparation underway for Eco-Reps


Jackie Jahfetson

A new student sustainability program fostering sustainable behavior and improving skillbuilding on NMU’s campus is currently underway for the fall semester.

This peer-to-peer educator program, known as Eco-Reps, is currently a student organization designed to give students a hands- on opportunity to learn and solve sustainability issues but also apply the skills they’ve acquired through community service projects and use them in the job field.

Senior ecology major Georgia Harrison was one of five students who approached the Board of Trustees during winter break, addressing the need for a sustainability program on NMU’s campus. Harrison has been working on this project as a part of her community service internship for the Student Leadership Fellowship Program (SLFP) and is one of the student coordinators for Eco-Reps.

The program is centered on developing leadership skills such as promoting and running events, workshops and other volunteer activities, Harrison said.

“We wanted something more institutional than just student organizations,” Harrison said. “We wanted something that was more concrete and really brought everybody together and gave students those resources.”

Students admitted to the group will complete a training course following a volunteer commitment of 2 to 4 hours every week with flexibility to choose their service projects, Harrison said. For example, students may want to take on tasks they feel passionate about, like trying to eliminate the amount of plastic bottles on NMU’s campus or encouraging more diversity, Harrison said.

Students can also earn credit by doing an internship after completing one semester as an Eco- Rep member, Harrison said.

This program not only focuses on the environmental side of issues but also the economic and social sides, she noted. Eco-Reps encourages all students from different sides of the spectrum, not just science-related major students, she added.

“It’s part of a much bigger mission of allowing students to be able to go out after they leave Northern with these skills and experiences to be able to take on these big issues that are facing our generation with some stride and experience. This is a comfortable place to learn about it and now’s a really good time too,” Harrison said.

The goal for the upcoming months is to get the support from the board to help with funding by adding a ballot item on the ASNMU ballot, Harrison said. With this plan, students will have the option of adding a small fee, known as the “green fee,” per semester to help cover efforts with Eco-Reps and other sustainability programs on campus, she said.

Junior environmental science major Olivia Walcott, who also addressed the board, said this idea for a more sustainable campus has been in the works for the past couple of years and hopes the program will strive to be as established as other NMU student engagement programs like SLFP.

“The timing’s absolutely perfect for this program,” Walcott said. “By institutionalizing sustainability, we’re able to keep that momentum that we have in all of our students.”

Applications for any students interested in joining will be handed out throughout campus during the third and fourth weeks of February and must be turned in by March 23. For more information on Eco-Reps, view their Facebook page @ NMU EcoReps.