Olivia Walcott of Allendale, an environmental science major at Northern Michigan University, has been named a 2016 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact. The Newman Civic Fellows Award honors undergraduate and graduate students who have taken action in pursuit of long-term social change and who engage and inspire others in their communities. Students are nominated by their institution’s president or chancellor.
Walcott has worked closely with NMU housing staff, students, faculty and community members to create an on-campus composting system.
“This would effectively divert precious organic matter from the landfill to green spaces on campus,” she wrote in her personal statement. “These green spaces have poor soil quality and will benefit from the nutrients of the organic matter. The biggest challenge of this project has been educating others on how composting will cut back on the waste being produced, make students more aware of their waste and benefit the earth.
“Most of my work has been in NMU's hoop house planning crop rotations with others. That has proven to become a balancing act between meeting the needs of the community ranging from supplying the culinary students with vegetables to supplying plants for community workshops to doing what scientifically makes sense for the hoop house. Overall, the growth and interconnectedness of the community is inspiring.”
Walcott offers education programs on food sustainability and is a member of the NMU Garden Club. She is co-coordinator of the Northern Climate Network and assists in organizing its community-wide climate change colloquia series. She also has co-hosted an educational workshop on recycling for fellow NMU students in her residence hall.
“In all of these efforts, Olivia demonstrates that she can explain scientific and environmental concepts to people unfamiliar with their complexities and inspires others to engage in learning more about these important issues,” wrote NMU President Fritz Erickson in his nomination. “Olivia continues to demonstrate passion, initiative and drive in giving back to the community through her environmental action.”
Campus Compact is a national coalition of nearly 1,100 colleges and universities committed to enabling campuses to develop students’ citizenship skills and forge effective community partnerships.For more information about its Newman Civic Fellows Award, visit http://compact.org/newman-civic-fellow/.