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  • AASHE-STARS

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 67.88
Liaison Mary Easterling
Submission Date Sept. 14, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Pennsylvania State University
EN-1: Student Educators Program

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.46 / 4.00 Mary Easterling
Assoc Director, Analysis & Assessment
Sustainability Institute
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Number of students enrolled for credit (headcount):
46,195

Total number of students enrolled for credit that are served (i.e. directly targeted) by a student peer-to-peer sustainability outreach and education program (avoid double-counting to the extent feasible):
28,393

Percentage of students served by a peer-to-peer educator program:
61.46

Name of the student educators program:
Penn State Eco-Reps Program

Number of students served (i.e. directly targeted) by the program (headcount):
4,600

A brief description of the program, including examples of peer-to-peer outreach activities:

Penn State Student Eco-Reps are first-year student sustainability educators living in residence halls. Eco-Reps educate and engage their peers through their own example, interactive programs, and educational campaigns. Eco-Reps emphasize recycling and composting during the fall semester and organize a recycling challenge in the residence halls. In the spring semester, they encourage responsible energy usage and activities include a No Impact Week and an energy conservation challenge. Eco-Reps work together to design activities that are informative and fun that support campus-wide sustainability focused initiatives.


A brief description of how the student educators are selected:

Application to the program is open to all incoming first-year students at Penn State University Park. Currently all Eco-reps live in East and Pollock Halls on the UP campus; however there is potential for expanding the program to other residence halls on the UP campus, as well as to other campus locations with residence halls. Students interested in applying for a position send a cover letter explaining their interest, resume, and two references via email to the Eco-Rep Coordinator. Selected students are interviewed and reviewed by an Eco-Rep Selection Committee.


A brief description of the formal training that the student educators receive to prepare them to conduct peer outreach:

The Eco-Reps:
• Learn about the issue or problem the behavior is meant to address (such as the financial, environmental, and social impact issues of energy use)
• Adopt the new behaviors themselves
• Teach and empower their peers to adopt the new behaviors via passive (signage, online strategies) and active programming (events, in-person engagement).

To prepare for their role, the selected Eco-Reps participate in an all-day orientation before move-in day and attend weekly training programs. Students learn the basics of sustainability issues, resources and statistics from subject area experts from the Office of Physical Plant (OPP), Auxiliary and Business Services and various academic colleges. Eco-Reps learn the strategies and tools of effective behavior change using as a foundation the principles of community-based social marketing. Teambuilding training is also offered to get the Eco-Reps working effectively together and with others. Throughout the school year Eco-Reps receive training from Penn State leaders and take educational tours like a tour of the the community waste authority and the campus recycling tour.


A brief description of the financial and/or administrative support the institution provides to the program (e.g. annual budget and/or faculty/staff coordination):

A full-time Graduate Assistant in the Higher Education/Student Affairs program oversees the day-to-day operations of the Eco-Reps program with the guidance of the Associate Director for Housing Services and the Sustainability Institute. Penn State Housing & Food Services funds the Eco-Reps stipends of $500 per semester. Residence Life funds programming supplies, food during orientation, and incentives needed for the Eco-Reps programs. Various university faculty and staff participate in training the Eco-Reps. The Sustainability Institute funds trainings, tours, transportation, some marketing materials, the Eco-Rep Handbook, Eco-Rep shirts, and food.


Name of the student educators program (2nd program):
Students Taking Action to Encourage Recycling (STATERs)

Number of students served (i.e. directly targeted) by the program (2nd program):
21,000

A brief description of the program, including examples of peer-to-peer outreach activities (2nd program):

Begun in 2005 as a group encouraging tailgaters to pitch it in to the right bin, STATERs has grown into a key OPP partner on educating about recycling and composting. Under the guidance of the Manager of Solid Waste Operations, the STATERs educate students and community members on recycling and composting practices at major events, including football games, THON, the Eisenhower Patio Party, and various sustainability conferences. They collaborate with a number of groups on Penn State's service leaders roundtable, known as the Council of Lionhearts, and help plan campus service days. http://sustainability.psu.edu/staters
Note: Due to a gap in leadership, STATERs has not been active since May of 2015. However, there are plans to reactivate this program in Fall 2017.


A brief description of how the student educators are selected (2nd program):

All students are welcome to join STATERs. Leaders in the organization submit applications and are selected by their peers and the faculty coordinator of the group. Students who do not have a leadership role can join STATERs at their many events and get trained on-the-job. The recent "Beaver Stadium Recycling Effort" trained many students to be peer educators on best practices in waste diversion.


A brief description of the formal training that the student educators receive to prepare them to conduct peer outreach (2nd program):

All members of the organization receive formal and hands-on training in types of solid waste they may encounter, waste diversion practices at Penn State, and how to engage various audiences.


A brief description of the financial and/or administrative support the institution provides to the program (e.g. annual budget and/or faculty/staff coordination) (2nd program):

STATERs is a volunteer organization, but there are in-kind donations of food, tickets to sporting events, and gear. All STATERs gear used during education, waste diversion, and audit efforts - shirts, tyvek suits, goggles - is provided by the Office of Physical plant. Students who worked the Beaver Stadium recycling effort received a ticket to the football game that they worked. Meal tickets are given to students at conferences for assistance with zero waste efforts.


Name of the student educators program (3rd program):
Penn State Net Impact - Small Steps Big Wins

Number of students served (i.e. directly targeted) by the program (3rd program):
793

A brief description of the program, including examples of peer-to-peer outreach activities (3rd program):

Penn State Net Impact Undergraduate (PSNIUG) is a newly formed and fast growing student organization in the Smeal College of Business. We are affiliated with Net Impact National, a nonprofit organization with over 50,000 students and professional leaders in over 300 volunteer-led chapters across the globe. Our mission is to inspire, educate, and equip individuals to use the power of business to create a more socially and environmentally sustainable world. The Small Steps, Big Wins Challenge is a competition for undergraduate students seeking to tackle our world’s social and environmental challenges one step at a time. This challenge represents the “Live” aspect of Penn State Net Impact’s goal. http://sites.psu.edu/netimpactugchapter/about-us/


A brief description of how the student educators are selected (3rd program):

The student educators for this program are titled as Campus Directors. Campus Directors are chosen based on a review of resumes and interviews.


A brief description of the formal training that the student educators receive to prepare them to conduct peer outreach (3rd program):

Upon initiation into their new position the 2014 - 2015 Campus Director was mentored by the previous individual who held that position for the remainder of the Spring 2014 Semester. In Fall 2013, the top 20 Campus Directors at the time (Penn State being one of them) were asked to fly out to the Net Impact National Conference to hold discussions, workshops, and collaboration with other successful college campuses on training for the Small Steps, Big Wins Challenge. The trip was paid for by Net Impact National.


A brief description of the financial and/or administrative support the institution provides to the program (e.g. annual budget and/or faculty/staff coordination) (3rd program):

Small Steps, Big Wins Campus Challenge is implemented by Penn State Net Impact Undergraduate. The PSU Net Impact Undergraduate Chapter provides cash incentives (prizes) for our own organization‘s top performers in the challenge. We also provide cash incentives (prizes) for a class that offers the challenge as extra credit. The prizes are provided to the top 5 performs within the class.


A brief description of all other student peer-to-peer sustainability outreach and education programs, including the number of students served and how student educators are selected, trained, and supported by the institution:

HealthWorks is a program in University Health Services that aims to promote health among Penn State students through peer-to-peer education/ outreach opportunities.
The mission of HealthWorks is to:
- Increase awareness and knowledge of health issues such as sexual health, nutrition and fitness, stress, sleep, alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, body image and eating disorders, and wellness;
- Empower students to engage in healthy lifestyle choices;
- Provide health education programs, information, and materials to students;
- Provide one-on-one wellness services; and
- Advocate for a healthy Penn State community.

There is a Green Health team within HealthWorks that focuses on the connection between sustainability and health. In 2015 they organized and participated in a campus wide tobacco/trash clean up. During Earth week in 2015, HealthWorks also participated in the Local Foods Night at Redifer. They had a table with a display comparing the amount of CO2 produced for one plate of the beef and broccoli with rice vs tofu and broccoli with rice. Approximately 2000 students were targeted by this program. http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/health/wellness/healthWorks.shtml


Total number of hours student educators are engaged in peer-to-peer sustainability outreach and education activities annually (all programs):
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The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.