This page is dedicated to Jonny Wookey, a wonderful young man — and the first Sustainability Steward at Upper Canada College in Toronto — who died suddenly and tragically while on a bicycle trip to celebrate his graduation from university in 2012.
Many middle schools and secondary schools have a student council of some sort. It might be called a student government, a student parliament, or a board of stewards. More and more of these student councils are now including a sustainability student representative.
What better way to include the student body in a school's journey to sustainability than to have a student representative who participates in and takes responsibility for greening efforts at all levels?
Students who participate in student council tend to carry the pride and learning experience with them through life and become responsible and active members of their community. Being a member of the student council at school not only teaches leadership skills, it inspires and empowers students to make a difference. [We] encourage schools to add a student council position at school that puts a student in charge of the green activities. The student and the position will constantly remind the school, parents, and students of the global and local difference they are making.
— Grades of Green
There are many possible names for this student council position, including:
And while the exact responsibilities will be different at each school, the role of a sustainability student representative is to be the student body's sustainability champion, ensuring that student perspectives are considered during a school's sustainability journey and that students are involved in a school's greening efforts.
Student Sustainability Educators: A Guide to Creating and Maintaining an Eco-Rep Program on Your Campus, by Christina Erickson, with support from AASHE and NWF
University of British Columbia's Sustainability Ambassadors Program
Grades of Green Five Tips for Greening Special Events
Respect for the position of Sustainability Steward had to be gained,
for sure. Sustainability is a topic often ridiculed and so I would say
that it takes a strong person to truly make the position work and be
useful. You need to have a tough skin to remain above petty jokes or
efforts to sideline what you are working on in order to gain that
Once people understand that sustainability is in their best interests and can actually help them, then you will get more support. Basically you have to be political, while sticking to your ideals and goals.
One thing that I really appreciated was how the position required me to interact not only with students and administration and staff, but also with parents and other people outside of the school.
— Graham Clark, former Sustainability Steward, Upper Canada College, Toronto
A school's student rep holding the sustainability portfolio could:
My advice? It is a great position, but really will only be effective with the right person. That person has to have a strong desire to create lasting change. It is very important that this position have the support not only of the faculty who works with the student council but also other staff and teachers, otherwise this person will always be working from the outside. At the same time, a student council sustainability representative's work cannot be done for them! It should be stressed that they will be a conduit or link between the administration and the student body, one that will be supported to create that lasting change.
— Graham Clark
Adding a sustainability student representative position to the student council at your school is an important way to demonstrate the school's commitment to greening the heart of education,
in all its forms.
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