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BAE Sustainability Committee Awarded Grant

Sustainability is a cornerstone of the mission of the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and NC State University as a whole. So when Brittany Santore, BAE Extension Workshop coordinator, found out about the opportunity to apply for funding through the NC State Sustainability Office, she dove right in.

“Knowing that sustainability is part of BAE’s mission, I felt it was something that we as a department needed to get involved in.”

Santore then took her ideas to Department Head Garey Fox who suggested she form a committee. The committee ended up being made of undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty and staff.

“Forming the committee was the best decision I could have made throughout the whole proposal process,” notes Santore. “We were able to collaborate with other departments and come up with ideas that I never would have thought of on my own. We have such a talented and diverse group of individuals in the committee and in the department as a whole that I know our project is going to be very successful.”

The committee ended up landing on the idea of a campus sustainable ecosystem. The multi-part project involves building vertical gardens and installing a bee hotel. Bee hotels are a pre-existing citizen science project on campus that offer North Carolina native bees habitat. The project will aim to include several educational components such as information at North Carolina native and North Carolina friendly plants, which will be grown in the vertical garden.

The Sustainability Fund offers Project Grants to NC State students, faculty, and staff with a specific project idea to improve the sustainability of NC State’s campus and community in a visible and engaging way. There is no set award amount for Project Grants as we award funds to projects of all sizes. Historically, awards have ranged from $1,000 to $50,000. Around $150,000 will be available each year for the Project Grants program. The Sustainability Fund is specifically looking for those projects that help advance the goals of the university’s Sustainability Strategic Plan and result in high-impact experiences for students, faculty and staff.

“My initial hope for this project was to help to beautify the exterior of our buildings and create a conversation piece for people who visit our department. However, after going through the proposal process, I hope that these gardens will be an inspiration to others on campus for ways to integrate sustainability into their departments and lives,” explains Santore. “I also hope that this will be a project that will bring students, staff, and faculty in the department together in ways they might have not interacted with one another otherwise. If the committee formation has taught me anything, it is that we are better together.”