Students, Employees Honored for Sustainability

Annual 'Sustainability Awards' held this week

Tallman Trask awards the Green Devil Smackdown belt to student Aki Ishikawa, president of the student group that won this year's sustainability-themed competition. Photo by Bryan Roth.
Tallman Trask awards the Green Devil Smackdown belt to student Aki Ishikawa, president of the student group that won this year's sustainability-themed competition. Photo by Bryan Roth.

The Green Devil Smackdown championship belt is in the hands of Duke students for the first time in the Smackdown's three-year run.

Duke student Aki Ishikawa accepted the belt from Executive Vice President Tallman Trask on Tuesday, marking the completion of the annual sustainability-themed team competition. The student team, "EA Executive Ballers," was comprised of members of the Environmental Alliance undergraduate student group. Teams comprised of faculty and staff had previously won the Smackdown.

"We were close to winning last year, so we tried to do every challenge as a group this time around," Ishikawa said. "We'd take time at every meeting to complete each one and we bonded over the events we completed together."

Ishikawa noted that the team continued behaviors from the competition even after the Green Devil Smackdown was over. For example, students held meetings with only natural light as part of a weekly challenge to reduce electricity use during the Smackdown. Environmental Alliance continued to hold meetings without turning on any lights in the weeks since.

Along with honoring the Smackdown winners, several Duke community members were recognized for "green" actions as part of Sustainable Duke's Sustainability Awards:

Outstanding Leadership in Sustainability - Staff

Leslie RoweAfter creating the Nicholas School of the Environment's sustainability committee, Rowe also took on a leadership role to guide coworkers and students in greener practices. She's organized a school-wide push to participate in the Green Workplace Certification program and recently held a special "purge party" event to recycle old files and papers as well as digitize documents, among other actions.

Traci ScogginsScoggins has helped Duke's Clinical Engineering department earn a Green Workplace Certification. She single-handedly obtained recycling bins for herself and coworkers as well as convinced others in the department to use recyclable containers for drinks and reusable food containers.

Outstanding Leadership in Sustainability - Faculty

Michelle HartmanAs a leader in the School of Nursing's community health program, Hartman teaches nursing students about interactions between people, their environments, their communities, and their health. She has integrated dimensions of environmental justice into student training about community health assessments and organized trips that help students confront social, economic, and environmental disparities that intersect to shape community health.

Outstanding Leadership in Sustainability - Student

Katie Anderson

Anderson has worked to help lower Duke's carbon footprint by partnering with campus eateries and Sustainable Duke to focus on a sustainable food model that sources food locally. In addition to pushing for the use of local farmers and vendors, she also advocated for the inclusion of more fruits and vegetables in eateries and participated in waste audits of campus buildings to identify how Duke community members can better recycle items.

Outstanding Leadership in Waste Reduction

Allyn Meredith

The ideal of "reduce, reuse, recycle" is integrated into Meredith’s life, as she focuses always printing on both sides of paper, reuses paper, brings in ceramic plates and metal utensils instead of plastic and brings food waste home to compost. She also maintains a sustainable commute to work, driving into downtown Durham and taking the bus to work.

Jason Holmes

Working at Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Holmes makes the space more sustainable by developing and managing the Gardens’ composting program that includes waste material from indoor and outdoor sources, events at the Gardens and daily actions like making coffee. He also oversees our chipping of woody debris from the gardens to be reused as mulch. 

Along with individual winners, 10 campus eateries were recognized as recipients of this year’s Green Dining Award. Read more about sustainable dining efforts in this story.