The Warren Wilson College (WWC) Campus Greening Seed Grant Program is a program of the Environmental Leadership Center (ELC) of WWC that is supported through a generous donation from Chris and Ollie Ahrens and the ELC. The goals of the program are to enhance the College’s campus greening efforts through the support of student-initiated campus greening projects and to increase the level of student environmental literacy by providing experiential opportunities to solve macro-environmental problems on a micro level. The projects can fall into one of two categories: appropriate technology or ecological restoration. Group and crew projects are greatly encouraged. The ELC reviews proposals and awards the grants. The total funding for each school year is $3000 and the maximum funding for an individual project is $500.
Criteria for a successful project proposal are as follows:
Students seeking a grant must answer the following questions:
These projects were made possible by funding from the Campus Greening Seed Grant Program:
Solar Lighting- Students on the Landscaping Crew, under the leadership of Sarah Olligges, installed several small solar-powered lights in response to a need for additional lighting on campus. These lights are located between Carson and Spidel and next to the pavilion. The solar lights are low to the ground, and illuminate the walkway without obscuring the view of the night sky. These lights are easy to install, cost effective, and eliminate the need to run further underground cable while showcasing the utility of solar lighting and minimizing pollution.They are a first step toward reducing Warren Wilson’s reliance on the power grid, and a move toward increasing our self-sufficiency.
Soy-Based Oil for Chainsaws- Heather Brooks and Rachel Reeser, two students on the Landscaping Crew, purchased a 55-gallon drum of soy-based bar oil for the campus’ chainsaws, one of the most-used power tools on campus. WWC used 81 gallons of petroleum-based bar oil to lubricate these chainsaws each year, all of which was injected into the environment. The students felt the college needed to switch to soy-based oil that is non-toxic and biodegradable, but higher in cost. The project successfully demonstrated the value of using soy-based oil, a practice now embraced by the College.
Cultivation of Endangered Species- Due to the recent interest in herbs and holistic healing, many wild herbs have been over-harvested and are now endangered. Jeremy Schewe, with assistance from the Biology and Environmental studies departments, cultivated six varieties of endangered medicinal plants in response to the need for replenishing native, over-harvested forest herbs. Blue Cohosh, Black Cohosh, Goldenseal, Twinleaf, American Ginseng, and Bloodroot are now growing at the forested project site. This project provides the opportunity to study the cultivation, harvesting, and marketing of native medicinal plants.
Daylight Harvesting- Peter Connolly, a student on the Electric Crew, noticed the large amount of energy being wasted by the daytime use of fluorescent lighting in the brightly-lit south facing side of the Martha Ellison Library. The Electric crew responded by installing a light-cell that detects when daylight is present and automatically shuts off the unnecessary lights. This energy saving project is easy to install, cost-effective and helps minimize pollution.
Farm Shade Trees- Sarah Stokes is responsible for the ten maple trees which have been planted on the farm to provide shade for both the livestock and for the stream which runs through the farm. The Farm Crew will maintain these trees along with the rest of the farm. As they grow, these graceful maples will add aesthetically to the farms as will as providing environmental benefits. Shade enhances the quality of life for the livestock and improves the water quality of the stream by lowering its temperature. Over the years these trees will provide a home and habitat for birds and other creatures, enrich the air, stabilize soil against erosion, and provide a place of beauty for all of us.
North Lane Reforestation- The stand of pine on North Lane was recently infested with pine beetles. To combat this infestation all of the pines were felled. Justin LaMountain has proposed to reforest the area with native hardwood species. Walnut, Locust, Buckeye, Hickory, Ash, and Oak will replace what had been a single species pine stand. Students from Natural Resources Crew and Landscaping Crew will be responsible for the maintenance of the area as the trees grow. Although it will be five to ten years until the trees are prominent, as they mature these hardwood stand will provide a unique educational opportunity for the students at Warren Wilson.
Paw-Paw Trees- Gabe Templeton (NRC) developed a plan to plant Paw-Paw trees in designated areas on campus. These trees will provide shade and biodiversity as well as bearing an edible fruit that will be harvested by the NRC.
Solar Battery Charger- In the past, Campus Support and Electric Crews relied on conventionally charged batteries to power their tools. Peter Connolly suggested that with a solar panel all of these batteries could be charged from energy provided by the sun instead of by burning fossil fuel. This project could be expanded to provide recharging services for student’s batteries as well. This would eliminate a great deal of toxic waste that is currently generated by the disposal of single-use batteries.
Biodiesel Fuel Research- Emily Hall initiated a biodiesel fuel program aimed at producing small quantities of the renewable fuel for use in campus diesel engines. With donated equipment, she set up a mixing/preparation facility for the fuel next to the paint drying shed. Landscaping and physical plant-based crews will incorporate some of this prepared fuel for some of this prepared fuel for some portion of their diesel-based vehicles. Long term goals of this project are to one day convert all college-owned diesel vehicles to run on biodiesel. Though WWC is no longer making its own biodiesel, the work of these students has led to the institutional purchase of refined biodiesel fuel from a regional supplier for use in campus vehicles.
Community Bike Program- Community bikes were an idea set up by Emily Kasinecz and Eden Reinstein to allow students easy access to a bicycle. The program takes existing broken bikes, fixes them, and puts them in high traffic areas on campus to be used by anyone. Students use these bikes instead of automobiles as transportation around campus. There is a bike shop in Bryson gym that can be used by any member of the community with tools and spare parts.
Native Tree Species for Farm- Chelsea Buncher purchased ten native species trees to be planted in appropriate places around the farm in order to enhance wildlife habitats, provide shade for livestock, and beautify the college. The Farm Crew will be responsible for the maintenance of these trees as they mature.
Electric Hand Dryers-Students on the Recycling and Campus Greening Crews, prompted by Maureen McKenna, purchased and installed two electric hand dryers to research their ecological and economic value in comparison to the use of paper towels. The ongoing research will provide Facilities Management and Technical Services with data to make environmentally responsible purchasing choices.
Sprouting Program- Molly Reed initiated a campus-wide sprouting program that will educate and provide the campus community with materials to sprout whole grains, seeds and legumes in their rooms. This project enables student access to food rich in nutrients and low in ecological and economic cost. Emily Monteith of the Wellness Crew has assumed some of the responsibility of following through with this project.
Culinary Herb Cultivation- Mary Lobb of the Cow Pie Café Crew and Mo McKenna of Campus Greening began growing culinary and medicinal herbs around the café’s patio last spring. This project provides access to healthy, ecologically sustainable and minimally processed food for use in seasoning meals and brewing teas. The café will save money and reduce their environmental impact by growing these herbs instead of purchasing them through the College’s food service provider. A student from the Cowpie crew will be assigned each semester to harvest and tend to the herbs.
Spill Containment- Emma Annixter and her fellow students on the Auto Shop Crew will install a sealant on the shop’s floor to contain spills, reduce leaching of chemicals into the soil and groundwater, and allow the utilization of EPA compliant spill enzymes for cleaning.
Community Bike Program- Eden Reinstein, Joel Basset, Ivy Smith, and Emily Kasinecz received continued funding to maintain and upgrade the Community Bike Shop. New items purchased include a tandem bicycle, helmets, and other equipment to help keep alternative transportation at WWC safe and fun.
Stephenson Garden Project- Jessica Mosher and Eleanor Underhill applied for and received funding to install an edible and medicinal herb garden outside Stephenson Dormitory. The project is part of Jessica and Eleanor’s Independent Study and is currently underway.
Lower-Polluting Weed Whackers- Amelia Uffelman from the Landscaping Crew and Collier Reeves the Farm Crew initiated the purchase of 4 Honda 4-cylinder weed eaters to significantly reduce the amount of noise and air pollution generated during the maintenance of the campus’ grass. On going research will document the ecological benefit of these devices compared to their two-stroke counterparts.