The future of our world depends on solutions to growing and harvesting more food, reducing waste, conserving water, and finding viable alternative energy sources. Land-grant and public universities and the USDA collaborate with farmers, foresters, fishermen, biofuel producers, and others to put sustainability research into action, making daily life “greener” for local, regional, and global communities.
National competitions attract top students to sustainability-related university programs, such as those that created the Mississippi State University EcoCar and the University of Tennessee’s Living Light Solar House. Outreach programs of Oregon State University’s Hinsdale Wave Laboratory encourage youth to study the engineering and technology that may help harness waves for alternative energy and also avoid natural coastal disasters.
Campus-based sustainability programs at public and land-grant universities provide models for sustainable practices. These include extensive composting and recycling programs, the use of “green roofs” (covered with live plants), water-saving measures, and serving local foods in dining halls and student unions.
Did You Know?
- Five land-grant universities around the country were designated Sun Grant centers through congressional legislation in 2003. One of their goals is to promote the environmental sustainability and diversification of America’s agriculture.
- Texas A&M University and other public and land-grant universities offer students a “sustainability pledge” designed to encourage waste reduction, energy conservation, and participation in other sustainable activities.
- The West Village housing and classroom complex at the University of California, Davis, is the largest planned zero net energy community in the United States.
Midwestern farmers were familiar with alternative energy long before the twenty-first century, as illustrated by this 1920s parade float in Iowa. Photo courtesy of Iowa State University
A group of school children visit Oregon State University to learn about the power of waves. Photo courtesy of Oregon State University Hinsdale Wave Lab