Going green at NMSU inspires campus group to plan events

October 26, 2009 by Jenna Candelaria NMSU Round Up

OASIS works to raise awareness about sustainability

As the Year of Sustainability comes into its final months, a club on campus is hoping to increase awareness about the importance of sustainability through films, recycling and community events.

The Organization of Aggie Students Inspiring Sustainability was formed in 2008 by two students who had taken a class on the importance of organic agriculture, said Mark Uchanski, faculty co-adviser of OASIS. Since then, the OASIS club has expanded to over 50 students working to increase green awareness across New Mexico State University, Uchanski said.

“This started as a grassroots student group with an environmental focus,” Uchanski said. “The focus is to inspire sustainability education in Las Cruces and at NMSU.”

Uchanski said OASIS became a fundamental part of the Year of Sustainability, initiated by former Interim President Waded Cruzado, by helping with recycling and compost projects. Uchanski said the grade from the recent sustainability report gives NMSU room for improvement.

“The audit group [who determined the sustainability report grade] looks at all efforts, including building, investments, and how NMSU is spending money to help with education,” Uchanski said. “In many categories, we did very well, but there are some categories that we can improve on.”

OASIS Co-President Carli Romero said the low sustainability grade was disappointing.

“I don’t think NMSU has taken enough steps to enhance the curriculum or eliminate non-recyclable materials,” Romero said. “We need to make some changes.”

To help raise awareness, OASIS is hosting the Sustainability Film Series supported by a grant from the City of Las Cruces. The seven films, which Uchanski said are mostly documentaries, focus on food, social equity, economics and waste management and other related topics. Following the films, Uchanski said experts invited by OASIS will lead a discussion on the message of the film.

“This is a new venue to learn from and discuss,” Uchanski said.

OASIS will also be focusing on agriculture and the environment during the Earth Day celebration to be held at Young Park in Las Cruces, tentatively set for April 17. Uchanski said this will be the third year for the event.

“The event will tell people how to be green with mostly an environmental focus,” Uchanski said.

Romero said the group is hoping environmental and waste awareness will lead the community in sustainable practices.

“The administration needs to step it up,” Romero said. “They are educating the future professionals of New Mexico.”

Romero said many OASIS participants are involved with other events such as the Community of Hope Food Shed World Café event, which will be held on Halloween, which will concentrate on agricultural sustainability in the Mesilla Valley. Romero said some OASIS members also support the Organ Mountain Desert Peak Wilderness Act to preserve areas of the Organ Mountains.

“The idea of sustainability is a huge movement nationally,” Romero said. “We have a lot of work to do.”

For more information about OASIS, e-mail oasis@nmsu.edu.

Jenna Candelaria is a staff writer and can be reached at trunews@nmsu.edu.

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