Start Your Own Environmental Center
Start an Environmental Center at Your School
We want you to start an Environmental Center at your school too. So we've put together this guide on how you can make it happen!
Paper on Establishing the CEC - information on how the CEC was founded and keys to success.
Presentation on Establishing the CEC - given at the 2004 National Association of Environmental Professionals Conference.
How to Start an Environmental Center at Your School (text is also below)
10 Things You Can Do to Help the Environment
Dorm Recycling Guide
Descriptions of CEC Positions (Spring 2003)
Template for Documenting a Meeting
Template for an Update on your Project
Template for an End of Semester Report
How to Talk about the CEC
How to Work with the Administration
How to Do Class Announcements
How to Manage Volunteers
How to Be a Mentee
How to Be a Mentor
How to Be New Member Coordinator
How to Compose the Environmental Events List
Leadership How To
How to Do Recruitment
Ways to be recognized and rewarded
AF&PA School Recycling Awards The AF&PA School Recycling Awards recognize schools that have implemented successful paper recycling programs. Awards, including a monetary prize and framed original artwork, will be given to a school-wide (K-12) recycling program and a college & university recycling program.
How to Start an Environmental Center at Your School
Why an Environmental Center?
Establishing an Environmental Center at your school will help bolster the environmental movement on campus by promoting continuity, providing resources and training, and institutionalizing students’ role in campus environmental change. It will increase the visibility of environmental efforts on campus, which will draw in new recruits, thereby sustaining the campus environmental movement.
About the UT Environmental Center
The University of Texas Campus Environmental Center was established in Fall 2002. Its goals are:
- to help students learn about and get involved in environmental issues
- to serve as a resource for UT environmentalists and environmental organizations
- to reduce the University's environmental impact
You can learn more about the UTCEC at www.UTenvironment.org
Step One: Research and Envision
Hopefully you already have a group of people to work with to start an Environmental Center. If not, this is essential! Propose your idea to existing campus groups. After that, your first step is to research what services other Environmental Centers provide and what functions they serve. An updated list of Environmental Centers around the country is available on our web site, UTenvironment.org. Make a list of all the services provided by all of the other Environmental Centers and see which would be appropriate for your school. Also make a list of all the problems with the environmental movement at your school and all of the potential solutions. Use all of this information to narrow down a vision for your school’s Environmental Center. Then, set out your vision on paper in the form of a formal proposal for the Center. Set out your Center’s goals, functions, and the services it will provide. Set a tentative timeline for establishing the Center and an initial budget.
Step Two: Build Support
Once you have a vision for your Environmental Center and a group of people to help make it reality, it’s time to start building support. There are two main types: institutional support and funding.
The key is to find one person at the University that supports you. This person can be a faculty member, an administrator, or a Student Government leader. Approach all likely supporters with your vision and ask for their feedback and support. You will get a lot of good ideas for what will and will not work on your campus, and it’s likely that at least one of these people will enthusiastically support your proposal. This person is your key to success; they will help you find other supporters and can advise you about the administrative politics on your campus. The key is to leverage the support you already have; when you email a new person, mention all the people that already support you.
Seek funding from your strong supporters or ask them where they would suggest you solicit funds. Solicit funds from likely sources and from grants like the National Wildlife Federation Campus Ecology Fellowship. When approaching sources that are less likely to give you money, be prepared to demonstrate that your Center has a lot of support from offices and organizations all over campus. If you can, leverage your funding; tell potential funders that you have confirmed funding from other sources or that other sources will fund you, contingent on you receiving funding from other sources. This reduces the risk of any one funder and makes all the funders more likely to give you money, as they are assured of your success.
Step Three: Making it Happen
Once you have built a critical mass of supporters and have obtained funding, you’re done with the hard part! But there’s still a lot of work to be done – all of the implementation of your ideas. Here is a list of things you might want to do as part of establishing your Environmental Center:
- Find office space
- Recruit volunteers
- Develop a website
- Get the Environmental Center approved as part of Student Government
- Compile a list of local and national environmental groups
- Send letters requesting library donations
- Set up an internship program
- Develop a list of leadership positions and recruit people to fill them
- Publicity and media work
- Host a Campus Earth Summit
- Research campus environmental impacts and policies
- Start work on a variety of campus projects
- Set up a leadership training program
Your job, as the founder, is to keep track of everything and make sure it all gets done!
Step Four: Documentation
Documentation is key to enable others to continue your work with the Environmental Center. Documentation you’ll want to put together includes:
- Job descriptions and how-to guides for each leadership position
- Notes from all meetings with administrators and other important figures
- Semesterly updates on campus environmental projects
- Evaluations by volunteers, interns, leaders, and administrators
- Event descriptions and evaluations
- A timeline of meetings and actions taken in starting the Environmental Center