Sustain Mizzou celebrated its ninth birthday as a student organization Thursday. The organization’s actual birthday was Feb. 4, according to its website.
Alumni of Sustain Mizzou and current executive board members were invited to attend the birthday celebration and talk about their experiences in the organization. During the second half of the meeting, a round-table discussion allowed attendees to ask questions to any of the former and current members.
“It’s a chance for the executive board, long-term club members and alumni to teach the new members about the club,” Sustain Mizzou President Abigail Keel said.
Junior Alexis Harris, one of the new members, said she was encouraged by the event to get more involved with the club. She said it was only her second time attending a Sustain Mizzou meeting.
“(I hope the club) will help me learn about sustainability and help me give back and do my part in the community,” she said.
Keel said volunteers like Harris keep the club running. She said Sustain Mizzou primarily functions through volunteer activities that it sets up to help students get involved in the community and university.
The organization has had many projects during its nine-year history, many of which were short-term or are no longer being conducted. Keel said the club’s longest running project is Tiger Tailgate Recycling, which has been around for eight years and produced its highest yields in history this year.
Former president senior Tina Casagrand said the organization has learned to adapt throughout the years as well.
“When the club first started, we used to be the main drivers of environmental affairs at the university,” she said.
But with the introduction of the MU Sustainability Office in 2010 and the Environmental Leadership Office, Casagrand said the club had to reassess its role on campus. She said the club soon found its own place, however.
“We focus on bridging the gap between interested students and getting them involved in sustainability projects,” Casagrand said.
The club also partners with other organizations like Tigers for Community Agriculture, with whom they help grow vegetables for the dining halls and Tiger Pantry.
Keel said Sustain Mizzou’s newest project is Sustainability Week, which is in April. The week consists of different environmentally themed days – such as sustainability at MU and in Columbia.
“Each day has an educational component to help students understand that sustainability goes beyond environmentalism,” Keel said.
Adam Saunders, a former member of Sustain Mizzou, spoke at the birthday gathering about the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, which actually grew out of a project started by the club. Saunders said he became involved in the club during its second year on campus and that, although initial interest in it was strong, it has grown substantially since that time.
Casagrand said she believes Sustain Mizzou will always be a big part of campus initiatives for sustainability.
“We will always be in the foreground for volunteer work,” she said. “And as a collective voice of students, we have power to request changes on campus that university-run organizations can’t match.”