The Sustainability Ambassador Student Leadership Program:
The next gen of sustainability, environmental justice, and climate action student leaders
Meet 21 of the 36 2023-24 Student Sustainability Ambassadors:
About the Program
- Beyond Plastics Team
- Biodiversity Team
- Bike Friendly University Team
- Climate Action Team
- Environmental Justice Team
The 2023-24 Sustainability Ambassador teams have forms are are not currently accepting new team members. To apply to join a Sustainability Ambasasdor team in the fall of 2024, email email@example.com to request an application when the application period opens in April of 2024.
As Sustainability Ambassadors, we seek to advance social + environmental + economic sustainability as articulated by the 17 Global Goals.
Our program values encompass:
- Partnerships for the Goals: Collaboration, and teamwork, especially with fellow students and campus stakeholders who have the ability to shape the change we wish to see
- Environmental Justice and Equity. Sustainability in both natural and man-made environments, especially in disadvantaged/environmental justice homes, neighborhoods, and communities.
- Affordability & Access. Sustainability encompasses economics and accessibility.
- Climate Action: Across all greenhouse gas-emitting sectors of our campus and regional economy. Recognizing climate action as global climate justice.
- Responsible Consumption and Production: Eliminating toxins. Emphasizing reduction and reuse over recycling.
- Just, Equitable & Circular Economies: Recognizing upstream and downstream and end-of-life impacts of consumption, including the impact on fenceline disadvantaged/environmental justice communities.
- Team Leaders for all teams, paid
- Communications and Engagement team members, each focusing on one team, paid
- General team members, unpaid
Work Study Opportunities
Pending funding awards, work-study positions are eligible for all of the above paid team leader/team member roles. Please indicate in your application if you have been awarded a 2023-24 work-study award.
Roles & Responsibilities
Team Leader roles are paid positions.
- Developing agendas for weekly team meetings
- Facilitating each weekly team meeting
- Facilitating the team brainstorming process for identifying and prioritizing action and engagement priorities for the academic year
- Keeping the team on focus when actions and engagements have been identified
- Communicating with stakeholders who have the ability to influence the change we wish to seek
- Setting up meetings with stakeholders and meeting logistics
- Formally representing the team at campus events
- Writing a year-end memo of the team's accomplishments and impact for future teams
- Attending team leader meetings
- Attending All-Ambassador team meetings
Communication & Engagement Team Member roles are paid positions.
Are you passionate about communications for social change?
The Communications & Engagement Team Members will be embedded in ONE Sustainability Ambassador team each and advance communications and engagement with students focusing on that team. The Office of Campus Sustainability anticipates that Communication and Engagement team members will be embedded in established teams that have been in existence for a number of years including the Beyond Plastics Team, the Food Team, and the Bike Friendly University Team.
- Attend weekly team meetings for the team that you're embedded in
- Maintain and update @sustainablenewpaltz with team-focused content
- Develop quality posts and stories that will be shared on main SUNY New Paltz social media accounts including Facebook, Instagram, and Tictok
- Develop quality posts such that C&E team members can "takeover" main SUNY New Paltz social media accounts from time to time
- Capture and edit posts, stories, and reels using your own smartphone very soon after capturing content
- Adding tangible value to communication and engagement campaigns that support significant sustainability goals
- Track activity and measure results of executed campaigns.
- Periodically review analytics data and measure ROI.
- Attend weekly or once-every-other-week Communication & Engagement-focused meetings where we share and positively and constructively critique each other's communications
- Schedule and post high-priority sustainability messages with links and hashtags on Instagram Stories using Later.com
- Produce annual, monthly, and weekly content plans, aided by the Web Team and Office of Communication & Marketing.
- Research and develop new creative concepts for engagement through social media.
- Interacting with and productively influencing other departments’ social media presence within the University.
- Support in-person peer-to-peer engagement efforts pertaining to your team's efforts
- Compose email blasts pertaining to your team's efforts.
- Compose news releases pertaining to your team's efforts.
Experience with the free version of the Canva app is a plus.
Communication and Engagement priorities for the academic year 2023-24
We anticipate hiring three C&E team members embedded in the following teams:
The C&E team member on the Beyond Plastics Team will especially focus on communicating the to-be-rebranded green reusable container program which will launch this fall as an orange-and-blue branded "Hawk Box" program. To ensure program success, students will need to return the new reusable boxes do dining services to ensure continued reuse and "a circular economy."
The C&E team member on the Food Team will focus on communicating and engaging students on low-carbon, plant-based and fungi-based foods especially proteins offered across dining services.
The C&D team member on the Bike Friendly University team will focus on meeting the "education" and "encouragement" requirements to become a Bike Friendly University campus.
If you would like to play a special role in advancing a specific project or take on specific responsibilities to advance the Sustainability Ambassador program, campus sustainability, and environmental justice, please indicate that on the application. These roles are to be developed and are paid positions, in part based on what interests and passions emerge from you.
One anticipated special responsibility is one Sustainability Ambassador who will schedule peer-to-peer engagement during the fall from August to October and during the spring from mid-March to May. The Sustainability Ambassador program tables at the Thursday campus marketplace and other fairs and festivals across campus including the Mental Health Fair, the Earth Day Festival, Fall Open House, Spring Accepted Students Day, the Club & Involvement Fair, etc.
- Attend a 3-day training from Wednesday, August 23 to Friday, August 25 from 10 to 3 pm each day.
- Co-facilitate Welcome Week activities for incoming resident students on Saturday, August 26 from 10 to 3 pm
- Tabling for 1-2 hours each Thursday at the campus market outside of the Lecture Center
- Attending one weekly team meeting for 1-hour
- Following through with whatever responsibilities you choose to take on during the weekly team meeting
- Attend occasional All-Ambassador meetings throughout the academic year
- Attending events and programs that your fellow Sustainability Ambassadors organize (as your schedule allows)
Past Progress of Teams
First established in 2019, the Beyond Plastics Team has had many successes at SUNY New Paltz including the following educational, engagement, and operational transformations listed below:
- Educating and engaging the campus on moving beyond plastics including hosting Judith Enck of Beyond Plastics as a guest speaker in the spring of 2020
- Switching from mostly plastic bottles to mostly aluminum cans in the beverage/vending contract (also check out this full case study)
- Adopting 100% reusables at Peregrine Dining Hall during COVID-19 during the 2020-21 academic year
- Adopting a reusable container program with a fee for single-use paper products at Element 93. This is anticipated to expand to the Student Union Building in the fall of 2022. Investing in one reusable container collection vending machine system at Element 93. A second collection system has been purchased for the Student Union Building in the fall of 2022.
- Developing Beyond Plastics-related and other sustainability and social/economic justice recommendations for apparel and textile procurement and other products at the campus Bookstore. During 2020-21, sustainable transformations at the Bookstore included carrying the fair-trade Alta Gracia clothing brand and three new clothing products featuring recycled content and increasing metal (not plastic) water bottle options.
- Advocating for microfiber plastics filters in residence hall laundry systems and installing the College's first microfiber plastics filters in the Department of Theater Arts' Costume Shop laundry machines.
Key past partners have included Campus Auxiliary Services, Sodexo, the Bookstore, and the Costume Shop of the Department of Theater Arts.
The Biodiversity Team existed in the 2020-21 academic year as well as the 2022-23 academic year.
The Biodiversity Team has advocated enhanced salt management practices to reduce the impacts of winter salt management on local ecosystems and the watershed. They also advocated to remove and replace the bamboo plant at the center of the Atrium, a project in progress. The Biodiversity Team has also promoted the use of iNaturalist app including the Biodiversity of SUNY New Paltz iNaturalist community to engage with, track, and learn about life on land and life under water at SUNY New Paltz
Momentum to become a Bike Friendly University emerged from the 2022-23 Carbon Neutrality Team to advance zero-emissions transportation on campus. This spring 2022, the Carbon Neutrality Team is holding a Bike Friendly University kickoff meeting on April 26 or May 3 for students, faculty, and staff. If you would like to participate in this kickoff meeting, please email Campus Sustainability Coordinator Lisa Mitten to learn all the details. The team also began filling out the Bike Friendly University application.
Now entering its fifth year, the Climate Action Team (formerly called the Carbon Neutrality Team) has had many successes at SUNY New Paltz including:
- Updating the annual campus greenhouse gas emissions inventory
- Advancing a Bike Friendly University as a carbon-free transportation climate solution
- Researching best practices and pathways to Carbon Neutrality, including offsets
- Proposing to the SUNY New Paltz President and campus executive leadership through a formal presentation in early winter of 2020 that the campus become Carbon Neutral by 2030, which led to this Earth Day 2021 announcement
This team formed in a prior year under the name "Intersectional Environmentalism" in the fall of 2020. This team studied intersectional environmentalism and environmental justice principles and trained all Ambassadors that year on intersectional environmentalism and environmental justice. This past team planted the seeds for integrating Latinx food across all dimensions of dining services. The focus of this returning team in the upcoming academic year will emerge from its team members.
Fall 2023 will be the third year of the Food Team!
- Successfully advocating for increasing the variety of plant-based low-carbon proteins across residential and retail dining
- Featuring plant-based proteins from across the world during Earth Week 2022 and Earth Month 2023 at Peregrine Dining Hall
- Advocating for more Hispanic/Latinx foods that reflect the diversity of the Latinx community across residential and retail dining
Since the Sustainable & Inclusive Food Team will focus on making recommendations to Sodexo regarding on campus food being served, students participating on this team must either live on campus and participate in the campus meal plan OR live off-campus and regularly eat meals on campus (ie. multiple times per week). Please do not apply to this team if you do not eat regularly on campus. This team historically has met over lunch at Peregrine Dining Hall. Students who appreciate plant-rich, low-carbon foods are especially encouraged to apply.
Alumni Sustainability Ambassador Success Stories
Sustainability Ambassadors have landed roles in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors including at the following organizations:
- Greenpeace USA
- New Yorkers for Clean Power
- Central Hudson (the local energy utility)
- Scenic Hudson
- The Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
- Department of Environmental Conservation
- New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
- Brooklyn Solarworks
- Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics North America (climate campaigner)
- Curbside Compost
- Renewable Recycling, Inc.
- ICF International (green building consulting)
- DNV (liquid pipeline engineering)
- New York State Assembly
- Ulster County Legislature
- Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission
- Sustainable agriculture farms and farming associations in New York, California, Florida, and Alaska
- New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation
- K-12 Public Schools
- Cornell Cooperative Extension
- Hudson Valley Research Lab
- Resilience Youth Network
- AmeriCorps NCCC
- Cornell University's Water Resources Institute
- NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program
- Sustainability Coordinator (in Higher Education)
- Fisheries Technician
- Operations Manager of a compost company
- Director of Logistics of a recycling company
- Farm Manager
- Farmers Market Coordinator
- Food Justice Advocate
- Climate Justice Organizer
- Climate Outreach Specialist
- Marketing and Communications Coordinator
- Communications and Development Associate
- Natural Resources Assistant
- Advocacy and Activism Campaigner
- Program Manager (for a climate action nonprofit)
- Environmental Educator
- Elementary School Teacher
- Earth Science Teacher
- Building Energy Efficiency Outreach Specialist
- [Solar] Business Development Manager
- Professor / Lecturer of Photography
- Senior Legislative Employee for the Ulster County Legislature
- Legislative Assistant (for the NYS Assembly)
- Clean Energy Educator
- Policy Analyst
- Water Resources Analyst
- Liquid Pipeline Engineer
- Mechanical Engineer
- AmeriCorps Team Leader
- Environmental Policy
- K-12 Education
- Higher Education
- Business Administration
- Environmental Studies
- Climate & Society
- Food Studies
Apply to become a Sustainability Ambassador
Apply by May 17, 2023! Please apply early by May 2nd so that an in-person interview can be scheduled prior to the end of the spring semester.
Please email or call Campus Sustainability Coordinator Lisa Mitten at firstname.lastname@example.org / 845-257-3325 with any questions about this program.