Eco-Classroom Will Create a New Campus Hangout

Thanks to a phenomenal show of energy and enthusiasm from students, alumni and friends from all over the nation, Rattler pride beat out the competition in this year's national Retool Your School Contest! Florida A&M University won the $30,000 Campus Pride Award, awarded to the school with the most online votes and social media activity.

RYS16 newsletterThe award will help fund FAMU’s proposal to create an outdoor 'eco-classroom' adjacent to the campus recycling center, located across from FAMU Village. Sponsored by Home Depot, the funding will pay for  materials that will be used to convert the current stark concrete pad into an cool new environmentally friendly space for students to gather, relax, and learn.

The design and construction of the eco-classroom is envisioned as a campus wide project, from Engineering and Architecture students helping to design custom seating and shading structures, to Agriculture and Food Science students helping to create a teaching garden, to artists bringing the space to life.

The eco-classroom will provide a space for organized hands-on activities as well as a great place to just hang out. The possibilities for this flexible space will expand as it becomes part of campus life. Follow the action and get involved as the FAMU Eco-classroom comes to life over the summer and fall. Online and on social media 


A Green Economy For All

Julian McQueen is optimistic about the rapidly expanding green economy, and his mission is to expand its opportunities to all.

McQueen, Director of Education and Outreach for the California-based Green For All, and external advisory board member for the Sustainability Institute, shared ideas for how slowing down carbon emissions is creating green jobs during a recent visit to Tallahassee. He noted that jobs related to solar energy are increasing at 12 times the rate of overall job creation.

green for all news"There's talent, and we're leaving it on the table," McQueen said, noting that access to opportunities is a key issue. He said people need to find ways the natural and built environments and people in them--in all communities--can thrive.

Quoting Green for All founder Van Jones, McQueen said, "Are we going to turn against each other or toward each other?" With all our fates tied together, he holds the positive view. "I think we will turn toward each other."

The burgeoning green economy is a multi-billion dollar reality, and with the right approach, new wealth and opportunity can be shared widely. His work and that of Green For All is to advocate for equal access to green entrepreneurship to capture talent and expand the reach of beneficial green projects into more communities.

In California, where a “cap and trade” program is in effect to fund pollution reduction programs, one-quarter of funds are earmarked for spending in communities most affected by pollution. Over the past two years, around $1 billion has been spend to reduce pollution in these communities, including through installation of solar panels on 5,000 low-income homes for a charge of $5 a month and distribution of free bus passes.

McQueen described hard-struck communities as “hotbeds of resilience” because residents are adept at ingeniously coping with difficult circumstances. What’s needed is a way to link ingenuity to opportunity.

Green For All nurtures upcoming green leaders through leadership development programs. One example is a “Green the Church” program, which helps church members find ways to improve their lives, their environments, and their community together. For more on Green For All's work to create green jobs, read here.

As a member of the SI’s advisory board, Mr. McQueen will be helping Florida A&M to develop ideas for enhancing leadership and opportunities for students. Stay tuned for future developments. FAMU is fortunate to have such an energetic visionary helping to train the next generation of leaders.


Celebrate Earth Week 2016 With Campus-wide Programming

April 18-24th is Earth Week at FAMU! Join the celebration with a series of engaging programs including the highly anticipated culminating with the 2nd annual Earth Day Festival on the Quad, Friday April 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Visit for details.

Brought to you by The Sustainability Institute, Green Coalition, College of Agriculture & Food Sciences - Small Farmers Program, Collaborative Arts Project, School of Social Sciences Art & Humanities – Political Science Department, School of the Environment, Ashe Indie Fest, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.-Beta Nu Chapter, SGA and OSA’s Set Friday.


“Unity in Recycling” is the Goal for Student Recycling Coordinator

Dominique Dantley has been environmentally conscious since his childhood, spent growing up in Ft. Myers, Florida. He believes that taking care of our surroundings is a necessary part of living a good life, both for current generations and future ones. A creative and passionate advocate for recycling and sustainability broadly, Dominique has found a perfect niche on the FAMU campus, working as the lead recycling intern for FAMU’s budding recycling program.

A senior who is majoring in Political Science with a minor in Public Affairs, Mr. Dantley is pleased about the eagerness of students, staff, and faculty to recycle and just wants to see the interest continue to snowball.

Campus recycling picked up steam last spring with the opening of a small recycling center off Gamble Street. Efforts now are focused on collection of office paper, cardboard, and plastic, with future goals to increase amounts of those items as well as expand collection of aluminum and possibly glass. Recently, a large roll-off bin was installed to enhance opportunities for collection of cardboard, a valuable item.

As the recycling coordinator, Dominique makes sure recycling bins are properly placed and maintained and that the marketable paper, plastic, and cardboard are sorted and prepared for sale to a local buyer of recyclables. He coordinates with the other student recycling interns to keep up with the growing number of recycling containers around campus. He also conducts regular brainstorming sessions with the other interns to come up with fresh ideas to encourage wider participation.

dantley and PhylesiaA recent campaign targeted at FAMU Village invited students to “Adopt a Smurf,” which is Dominique’s nickname for the blue 3-gallon containers that are now in almost every dorm room at FAMU Village. The campaign has taken hold with students, who routinely help out by taking their filled bins to the campus Recycling Center off Gamble Street, conveniently located across the street from FAMU Village.

The start-up recycling program is less than a year old and operates on a lean budget and limited schedule. However, with the dedication and enthusiasm of campus champions including students like Dominique and the other dedicated recycling interns, the future of recycling on campus is very bright.

“Unity in recycling is necessary,” he says. “It has to be a campus effort—it can’t just be some individuals and departments.” Dominique is hopeful that the recycling effort will continue to gather greater volumes of materials and to handle a wider variety of items. He invites campus members with questions about recycling to contact FAMU Recycling at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or to call 599-3442. Students who want to gain volunteer hours assisting in recycling can sign up to in various capacities, including working at sporting events.

For more information about FAMU recycling, which is operated by FAMU’s Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) department click here.







FAMU Hosts Vice Chancellor from Leading Indian Agricultural University

Dr. N. C. Patel, vice chancellor of Anand Agricultural University, Gujarat, India, spent a day at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University meeting with deans, faculty, and officials to discuss how the two universities can collaborate on research and service to advance solutions for sustainable agriculture. The visit was facilitated by the FAMU Sustainability Institute.

FAMU’s Chief Sustainability Officer and Executive Director of the Sustainability Institute Abena Ojetayo said “we are very pleased with this partnership in India, a nation with great promise in sustainable development. These relations help us share expertise and experiences that lead to real impact at home here in Florida and for communities across the ocean.”

“Ultimately we want to see that the people on the globe have sufficient food, energy, and a clean environment. In the context of that, universities play a strong role,” said Dr. Patel.

The universities are exploring establishing student and faculty exchanges and undertaking collaborative research in areas including crop production, soil science, biotechnology, nanotechnology, climate and meteorological sciences, and renewable energy. Patel’s visit is a component of FAMU’s Memorandum of Understanding with India’s National Council for Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Public Leadership (NCCSD) to promote solutions in sustainability, agriculture, climate change, and other STEM areas.

“We are brainstorming to see how we can solve these global issues together,” said Dr. Odemari Mbuya, faculty director of the Sustainability Institute. Dr. Mbuya, along with FAMU Professor Mehboob Sheikh, Ph.D., had just returned from a similar visit to India to various universities, organizations, and farms to give guest lectures and plan collaboration efforts.

The Dean of CAFS, Dr. Robert Taylor, welcomed Dr. Patel warmly. “We’re very sincere about these initiatives we want to develop with you and we are looking forward to what we can do with you.”

In addition to meeting with faculty members from the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences, Dr. Patel met with University President Dr. Elmira Mangum, Provost Marcella David, Vice President for International Education Dr. William Hyndman, Vice President for Research Dr. Tim Moore, and deans and faculty from other colleges and sschools. Dr. Patel concluded the day’s visit with a tour of the renowned FAMU Center for Viticulture and Small Fruits.


New EnergyWaterFoodNexus Science Enterprise Launched at FAMU

Florida A&M University hosted the inaugural EnergyWaterFoodNexus Summit, an international conference that connected a global network of over 300 researchers, innovators, and other stakeholders working in the energy, water, and food sectors. Participants from as far away as South Africa, Hungary, and India joined local and regional attendees to share knowledge. Led by the FAMU School of the Environment with collaboration from the Sustainability Institute and several colleges and schools, the summit also included co-sponsors from the City of Tallahassee’s Environmental Policy & Energy Resources division, the US Department of Energy ARPA-E as well as private sector contributors like SalterMitchell and Yum! Brands.

The EnergyWaterFoodNexus is a new science enterprise launched at FAMU through an international, public-private partnership that seeks to provide sustainable and innovative solutions global security.

During the summit, participants from various disciplines had the chance to learn about and work together to tackle complex issues affecting every community. The lineup of renowned speakers included Will Allen, CEO of Growing Power, New York Times best-selling author of “The Big Thirst” Charles Fishman and European Commission head of innovation Istvan Kenyeres.

Summit chair and dean of the FAMU School of the Environment Dr. Victor Ibeanusi explained the purpose of the EWFN.

“The intent of the EWFN is to brand this as a new science enterprise designed to provide solutions to the global energy, water and food crisis,” Ibeanusi said. “Students can also interact with international leaders in agriculture, business research, technology and more."

Odemari Mbuya, faculty director for the FAMU Sustainability Institute and professor in the center for water and air quality ensured that there are solutions to these globally vexing problem.

“Energy, water, and food, they are all related,” Mbuya said. “There are problems which cover all those three … so we are looking for solutions."

Kirit Shelat, the chair of India’s National Council for Climate Change and Sustainability Development, led a contingency of scientists and agronomist from India to attend the summit. The NCCSD signed a memorandum of understanding with FAMU to collaborate on research, faculty and student exchanges.

Speaking on the prospects of the MOU between the two organizations, Shelat said “FAMU can make available appropriate technology related to climate smart agriculture and smart city management for its replication in India.”

Mbuya explained the importance of working internationally with various organizations.

“We need to work together, which is the purpose of the memorandum of understanding. We can work with people in different parts of the world and gain the right tools to better control [our global environment]… If we can better predict upcoming changes, we can plan appropriate mitigation,” Mbuya said.

The summit presented several themes and tracks for participants, discovering emerging innovations, understand policy implications and accelerate technology. Furthermore, Idea Hack sessions aimed at solving complex problems that require multidisciplinary and diverse perspectives brought together multidisciplinary young and experienced collaborators to “pitch” a challenge and open up for an informal brainstorming session. 

Learn more about the EWFN science enterprise at FAMU at


FAMU’s First Green Festival Inspires Students

Blue skies and good vibes describe the perfect day that went along with Florida A&M University first-ever Green Festival, held on Earth Day, April 22, at the quad. Hosted by the Sustainability Institute (SI), the festival showcased dozens of campus departments, student groups, and community and government organizations, all demonstrating ways for the FAMU community to go green. 

FAMU alumna Anamarie Shreeves was the featured speaker at the stage, speaking to a gathering of Rattlers under the clear skies of a perfect spring day. Ms. Shreeves, a 2010 graduate from the school of journalism, has embarked on a near-zero waste lifestyle that allows her to collect the sum total of a month of trash inside a mason jar.  She shares inspiring stories about how to green your footprint in her blog at, writing about topics from waste reduction to ecotourism, and she has been featured on CNN.

As a young person who fetched tadpoles in her spare time, Shreeves developed a green thumb at a young age. She recalls her love of the outdoors and insistence on bringing recycling into her family. "I remember in high school telling my parents 'look, we gotta do this, we've got too many water bottles!’” Shreeves exclaimed. With more than 38 million water bottles are thrown away each year in the US, more advocacy for recycling like Shreeves displays is becoming a necessity. 

Green living guru and FAMU Alumna Annamarie Shreeves shares tips on composting at the FAMU Green Festival

After obtaining her degree in journalism, Shreeves landed a job at a TV station that she described as “fun, but not fulfilling.” As a young 20-something with no commitments, she decided to take a leap with a friend to Ecuador. The trip was a turning point in her life. “I got so much personal growth from it; I got to be myself,” recalls Shreeves. A self-described neo-hippie with an insatiable wanderlust, Shreeves has also traveled to South Africa, Kenya, Amsterdam and Jamaica.

While abroad, she learned about No Trash Project -- a blog about reducing personal waste -- that encouraged her to “forget trash” herself. “If I wanted to be the most impactful tree hugger, and I accept that, to do it in the most honest way I had to go zero waste,” Shreeves said.

What began as a 30-day challenge to reduce waste became a new lifestyle as Shreeves has been practicing zero-waste for over a year. As someone who practices conscious consumerism, Shreeves wants people to leave with a better understanding of their waste. “Just start to observe your trash, be mindful of what you throw away and how dependent you are on the landfill to take care of your waste,” she said. About 4.35 pounds of waste are produced per person per day in the US. Shreeves shared how she avoids such waste by carrying reusable containers for drinking and food purchases and by composting and recycling almost all of what is not needed.

Shreeves also led a do-it-yourself (DIY) toothpaste demonstration where students had the opportunity to make their own toothpaste. Shreeves offered advice to anyone willing to lend an ear, and suggested carrying around a reusable bottle, a cloth and a spoon or fork to start becoming a conscious consumer.

Kendra Hazel, junior pre-physical therapy student, set out on her own zero-waste journey. She stopped by Shreeves’ booth to add one more DIY recipe to her list. “I make natural products, so it’s cool that they have that out here - toothpaste, soap, everything,” said Hazel.

A solar powered golf cart boldly parked on the grass brought attention to the school of Architecture and Engineering Technology. Stacy Tinner, senior laboratory professor explained the student’s senior projects that required the use of solar energy. “Their last summer project was to calculate the amount of energy a house uses, then they implemented solar panels to reduce the house’s use,” said Tinner.

A sidestep away was where the subtle fragrance from Ivory Council’s booth drew people in. Council is the owner of Pure Ambiance, a petroleum-free, soy-based candle company. Though she wasn’t selling products on-site, she offered free smells and business cards. Council sells a variety of organic products including candles, soaps, and bath and body fragrances. “Coconut oil, castor oil, palm oil, shea butter, maple butter and coco butter holds it all together,” said Council of one of her $5.99 soaps, which can be purchased online.

The Institute of Public Health showed up to make students aware of the opportunities in obtaining a graduate degree in public health. “We depend on the environment to sustain us through life… we are very concerned about preserving the environment because we want to have a healthy environment for ourselves, our kids and so forth,” said a passionate Latoya Newby, president for Future Public Health Professionals.

Students and visitors also had a chance to paint positive messages on donated shoes. Chuck Tales, a non-profit organization, recycles old sneakers and shoes back into the community. Joshua Smith, recent graduate and coordinator for Chuck Tales, explained that the group was created when a friend was considering throwing away his old pairs of sneakers. “We advised him to donate them, but after brain storming a bit we came up with an idea to donate shoes that have a message,” said Smith. Chuck Tales donation bins were placed around campus during the spring semester for students to donate anytime.

Armed with gently used products and a desire to upcycle, the Trashtronauts serenaded Rattlers to infinity and beyond. Erika Morgan, a member of the band, said she enjoys the educational aspect of the band. “We’re not relying on what we know we can use to make music from, but making music by using objects that we have around,” said Morgan. So far the band has created the Diddley bow, Pot Led xylophone, Water Jug Snare drum and two-string cigar box guitar. “This is my art form and a way to reach out to people, to educate and demonstrate,” said Brett Jardner, Trashtronauts band member.

Ricardo Clark, a senior music education student from Miami, was instantly captivated by the melodic treasure made from one person’s trash. “I heard it and I started making a song up in my mind,” said Clark. Though he’s constantly making music, he said he might want to create his own instrument. “This is like genius!” Clark said with excitement.

The Green Festival was an exciting event that grabbed the attention of students and showed them how people at FAMU are leading the way in becoming more sustainable. The event set the stage for collaboration for even greater future attainments, assisted by campus-wide and interdisciplinary connections that FAMU’s Sustainability Institute will continue to foster. 


GreenCo Park Takes Shape Thanks to Student Efforts and Donor Support

More than a hundred FAMU students, faculty, and staff pitched in during workdays in November 2014 to revitalize GreenCo Park, which is located between Lee and Jackson Davis halls. The result is a garden featuring native plants that are well adapted to the local environment and that should thrive with minimal water consumption, making the garden a true expression of sustainability as well as beauty. The park is named for FAMU’s Green Coalition, a student organization that is open to all FAMU students, staff, and faculty with an interest in making a positive change for a greener world.

The FAMU Green Coalition originated the idea for sprucing up the garden, which was initially designed by landscape students and faculty and installed in 2010.  The park project was funded as part of a 2012 grant award from Siemens Corporation for $25,000 to support projects to engage FAMU students in campus sustainability initiatives. Siemens National Sustainability Education Director Charley Cohen was a strong advocate for the park revitalization effort as an expression of student involvement in campus greening.

The design for new plantings and pathways was donated by Tallahassee landscape architect David Cowles, who earned his master’s in landscape architecture from FAMU in 2010, and whose firm, Cowles Landscape Architecture, provides landscape architecture services in North Florida and beyond. Cowles developed a landscape plan aimed at densifying the park’s vegetation with new plantings of flowers, shrubs, grasses and trees, while keeping the original design concept of “The Clearing.” Cowles provided his design services at no cost to the university and also helped coordinate the planting.

“We were excited about the beautification of GreenCo Park and we welcomed the challenge to complete it,” said Green Coalition President Kesha Ellis. “We even had a lot of students who wanted to become a member of FAMU Green Coalition after this event.” Green Coalition member Tedra Cooper noted, “It was a lot of hard work, but in the end, it was laughter, smiles, and satisfaction of the work that was done.” Angely A. Tiburcio, Vice-President of FAMU Green Coalition, noted that the project demonstrates the support from the student body, faculty, and administration to bring sustainability to the FAMU campus.

The project was enthusiastically supported by Green Coalition co-advisors Olivier Chamel, a professor in the School of Architecture, and Abena Ojetayo, FAMU Sustainability Institute chief executive officer. “This park illustrates the willingness of students to engage in hands-on efforts to spur the evolution of FAMU as a living laboratory of sustainability,” said Ojetayo. The efforts of the FAMU Plant Operations and Maintenance (POM) department were crucial to the project, doing advance work on the site to remove old materials, repair irrigation lines, install new topsoil and supply equipment and tools for the volunteers. One crucial repair carried out by POM staff was fixing the rain-fed irrigation system that captures rain falling on the roof of Jackson Davis Hall, sending it from gutters into a tank behind the hall. The tank is connected to the irrigation system. Thanks to the rooftop collection system, the garden can be watered primarily by rainwater, making it nearly self-sustaining for water use.

Other assistance for the project came from the Royal Court. Miss Florida A&M, Dominique James, helped to promote turn-out and was on hand to help with the plantings.

The garden was dedicated as part of FAMU’s Earth Month festivities on April 24.

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Sustainability @ FAMU

Sustainability at Florida A&M University is about the teaching, research and application of environmental and resource stewardship so people and planet prosper. The Sustainability Institute serves as the hub of all sustainability-related efforts at the university, bringing students, staff, faculty and the community together around creative collaborations.

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