Winners react to sustainability award

Kayla Swanson

WKU alum Morgan Mickelson’s study abroad trip to Germany was all it took for her to realize the importance of sustainability.

The spring 2012 graduate said that while on the trip, she saw different sustainable practices there that she had never seen in Kentucky.

Mickelson said people in those other countries did things like riding buses or bikes to get to different areas, not using plastic bags, and recycling.

“I realized that there were much better ways of doing things,” she said. “When I came back I carried over those actions and they kind of led into the work at the recycling department.”

Mickelson and Terry Wilson, director of the Center of Environmental Education and Sustainability, were recognized for their work on Aug. 24. when they became the recipients of the President’s Award for Sustainability.

Sara Hutchinson, Recycling and Surplus coordinator nominated Mickelson.

“I nominated Morgan because she was a student worker of mine last semester and she was just a really high energy, self-motivated girl,” she said. “She was excited to work on anything I asked her to.”

Wilson does a lot of work to promote environmental education in several areas, Sustainability Coordinator Christian Ryan-Downing said.

Wilson was the first faculty member Ryan-Downing met at WKU and has been her mentor ever since.

“The best way to know Terry is to see him doing environmental education with kids — he’s amazing,” Ryan-Downing said. “He can get kids all excited about looking at bugs, looking under rocks, at leaves, at tree bark.

“Just watching him do that is really inspiring.”

This is the second year President Gary Ransdell has given out the award.

“The President’s Award for Sustainability honors individuals who exhibit excellence in supporting WKU’s commitment to sustainability,” Ransdell said. “Such efforts include demonstrating exemplary practices, ensuring solutions, incorporating sustainability into programs and implementing innovative ideas.”

Ryan-Downing said that recognizing those who go the extra mile in making sustainability a priority sends a message that sustainability is important at WKU.

“I hope that it encourages people to do whatever they can in their area of campus to advance and promote sustainability or support sustainability efforts on campus,” she said.