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March 25, 2018

On-campus sustainability initiatives fund thousands of dollars in scholarships each year

Metals can only be recycled if they’re pure – a fact Johnson County Community College student and sustainability intern Nils Beverlin is well aware of. That’s why when the College moved forward with retrofitting many campus lights, Beverlin spent 25 hours disassembling the fixtures to collect bare aluminum.

His dedication was well worth it. The metal sold for $3,011.44. That’s the equivalent of nearly three semesters of tuition for a full-time JCCC student. Had the fixtures been recycled in their original form, they would only have been worth approximately $300.

Sustainability supports scholarships

A little-known fact about JCCC: On-campus sustainability initiatives fund thousands of dollars in scholarships each year. As a future-focused institution, JCCC believes in investing in its students and giving them the tools to succeed without compromising their financial security post-graduation. And when it comes to being environmentally, socially and economically responsible, the College’s commitment is second to none.

Paired together, sustainability and scholarships can create brighter futures for JCCC students, the community and the planet.

From trash to treasure

To fund scholarships, JCCC collects, breaks down and sells a variety of materials such as scrap metal, books and copper cords from all corners of campus. Paper and cardboard play a key role as well. In 2016, JCCC acquired its first cardboard baler, which compacts 1,000 pounds of materials at a time. Today, JCCC “drops a bale” every seven days.

Diverting these types of waste provides a revenue stream for funding student scholarships, which is among the many reasons why JCCC plans to become a zero-waste-to-landfill campus by 2025.

Sustainability interns

Who are the helpful hands dedicating their time to collecting and disassembling these items? JCCC’s sustainability interns, such as Beverlin.

Beverlin received a crash course on JCCC’s sustainability efforts in an environmental science class and was immediately interested in learning more. Today, he serves as a sustainability intern performing the following duties:

  • Dismantling items to recover recyclable materials
  • Collecting and composting food waste from campus kitchens
  • Working on pollinator gardens
  • Giving tours of the compost facility and campus farm
  • Delivering presentations and working at events on campus
  • Servicing all on-campus recycling docks

Through his work as an intern, Beverlin’s JCCC journey has come full circle. “Now I speak to classes and groups about sustainability. Recently, I presented on paper towel composting to the same environmental science class I had previously taken,” he said. “I was able to speak to the students who were sitting in the same seat I had been in six months earlier and tell them about all of the meaningful things JCCC does.”

In addition to helping create scholarship funds for deserving students, serving as a sustainability intern has many other benefits.

“This internship has given me the tools to educate people on how they can shift their mindset to make more sustainable choices,”  Beverlin said.

If you’re interested in learning more about this internship program and how you can get involved, email the Center for Sustainability today.