SSI Travel Grantee: Rachel Tholl

June 11th, 2014 | Rachel Tholl
Rachel Tholl received a $50 SSI Travel Grant to travel to Tempe, Arizona to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University from March 21-23, 2014. She wrote a brief blog post for the Ecologue to describe the experience.


The Clinton Global Initiative first caught my eye when the SSI Faculty Advisor, Jen Christion-Myers, brought it up at one of our weekly SSI staff meetings. The word that caught my attention while I took notes was “Clinton.” I am an avid fangirl of the Clinton family – former President Bill, the (hopefully future President) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the amazing author and mother-to-be Chelsea Clinton – and a chance to be in the same room as them was very exciting. Myself, Annie Kersting (SSI’s Landscape Coordinator), and Jen all started meeting and collaborating on ideas for projects that we could create to take to CGI to represent OSU. We played with the idea of a green roof, but eventually came up with Growing Food Security. With the fantastic help of HSRC Food Pantry’s Lauren Nichols and Lydia Elliott, and the Center for Civic Engagement’s Corin Bauman, we created a plan to grow food organically at the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture, donate it to the Food Pantry, supply reusable bags to the Food Pantry, and host canning and cooking classes once a term. The six of us began meeting once every other week, since Annie, Jen, and I were all very busy writing applications to OSU and CGI, to name just two of the places we were explaining the project to.


Long story short, we were accepted into CGIU and OSU’s former Vice-President Larry Roper with Mirabelle Fernandes-Paul helped us prepare and fund our fees and travel. Myself, Annie, and Lydia all traveled to Tempe, Arizona right before Spring Break with our fancy skirts, dress pants, and collared shirts. The experience was amazing; I had never traveled alone before, nor been in the same room as people as amazing as the Clinton family. The thousands of international students in the program were all so energetic and full of aspirations and hope for the future – it was inspiring to see young people my age get excited about changing the future with their own hands!


Growing Food Security will have its first canning and cooking classes in the Fall term of 2014, and will hopefully continue past the 2014-2015 school year. If you’d like more information on how to get involved, whether as a participant or a volunteer, please email, call, or visit the SSI, which is on the south end of campus. Or you can apply to go to CGIU in 2015, if you have a project as awesome as Growing Food Security! Talk to Mirabelle Fernandes-Paul if you’d like to get involved. The application process starts in Fall and I’d encourage anyone with anything as initial as an idea to apply!

- Rachel Tholl

SSI Travel Grantee: Jeremiah Osborne-Gowey

June 8th, 2014 | Rachel Tholl
Jeremiah Osborne-Gowey, a graduate student in the Masters of Public Policy program at OSU, received a graduate travel award of $500 to travel to and participate in the 2014 meeting of the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society (WDAFS) held April 6-11 in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico.


I have been fortunate to present at dozens of conferences, many international in scope and theme. But this was the first conference I had a realistic opportunity to present at that was hosted at an international destination – Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico. I was excited! I was also worried if I could really afford to go. After all, graduate student budgets aren’t exactly known for being plush. Thanks to the wonderful SSI program travel grant, I WAS able to go!

This weeklong conference, the annual meeting of the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society (WDAFS), is held in various locations throughout western North America. This was the first time it had been held in Mexico, the newest member of the WDAFS. And what a meeting it was! The location – Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico – was noteable in its own right. But the truly international scope of the meeting, the large presence of international experts and Mexican university students and professionals, and the international theme – Rethinking Fisheries Sustainability: the future of fisheries science – was truly remarkable and helped the meeting to become a resounding success.

At the meeting, I presented research some colleagues and I have been working on recently on potential uses by resource managers and policymakers of data mined from social media. My interest was in whether valuable ecosystem observations could be gleaned from social media; in this case, Twitter. The short answer is ABSOLUTELY! Not only is Twitter a rich source of spontaneous observations of the natural world (e.g., species sightings) but also an excellent source of data pertaining to human-wildlife interactions; everything from the disgruntled recreational fisherman complaining about not enough fish in ‘his river’ to runners commenting on how remarkable it is to see coyotes interact in city parks or along trails.


Given the theme of the meeting – Rethinking Fisheries Sustainability, I was not surprised to find a whole host of wonderful sustainability-themed talks and special sessions to attend. And, in a way, my talk fit well with the sustainability theme (and the SSI mission). Not only is Twitter a rich source of ecosystem observations, mining data from social media is also quite cost-effective relative to labor-intensive field sampling techniques. I am not suggesting replacing field-based methodology, simply that harvesting ecosystem data that is widely and freely available online can be a cost-effective supplement to existing data. In fact, social media may even provide an early indication of ‘trouble areas’ which might allow resource managers to direct effort and resources to areas that need it the most (e.g., species invasions, problem human-wildlife interaction hotspots, disease outbreaks, etc.).

- Jeremiah Osborne-Gowey

SSI Travel Grantee: Tyler McFadden

June 7th, 2014 | Rachel Tholl
Tyler McFadden received a $500 SSI travel grant to attend the International Symposium on Mangroves as Fish Habitat in Mazatlan, Mexico. Tyler wrote an Ecologue post about his experience and what he learned from it.


McFadden presenting

Mangroves are coastal forested wetlands that occur in throughout the tropical intertidal zone.  Renowned for their ecosystem services, mangroves provide habitat for economically important fish species, provide coastal protection from storm events, and contain some of the largest carbon stocks of any tropical ecosystem.  In the summer of 2013, I worked in Honduras as part of the Sustainable Wetlands Adaptation and Mitigation Program investigating the role of mangroves in climate change mitigation (see website for project details: ).  While in Honduras, I gathered field data for my Honors thesis studying the effects of roosting waterbirds on nutrient cycles in mangroves.

In early April, thanks to funding from the Student Sustainability Initiative and the University Honors College, I had the opportunity to present the results of this research at the Western Division American Fisheries Society annual meeting in Mazatlan, Mexico.  I presented a poster as part of the 2nd International Symposium on Mangroves as Fish Habitat.  Working in the mangroves last summer, I was impressed by the diversity of fish living in the mangroves.  I was curious how nutrient inputs by birds could not only affect the mangroves, but also the fish that rely upon the mangroves.  Unfortunately I didn’t know a lot about mangrove associated fish.  This symposium brought me up to date on the current state of knowledge concerning mangrove-fish interactions and will provide future directions for my research.

In addition to learning about mangrove associated fish, I learned about how mangroves are managed throughout the world, from the Bahamas, to Mexico, to Pakistan.  I met researchers from several different countries and got to know many of the students from the Mexican Chapter of the American Fisheries Society.  One of the highlights of the conference for me was learning about all of the high quality research being done in Mexico and throughout Latin America.  Much of this work never reaches scientists in the United States because of language barriers.  The informational and cultural exchange that this meeting fostered will likely contribute greatly to the sustainable management of both mangroves and their associated fisheries.


- Tyler McFadden

Help OSU divert 28,000 lbs from the landfill!

June 5th, 2014 | Kyle Reed

As you may have heard, the Move-out Donation Drive is currently underway! This year, our goal is to divert 28,000 lbs from the landfill, and here’s how you can help:

Move-Out Campus Living InstructionsDonate

Students living on campus can donate their extra and unwanted items in one of the donation bins, which are located in the lobby’s of each of the resident halls. The categories of items are as follows:

  • Food (Unopened, non-perishable)
  • Toiletries
  • Dry clothing, towels, and bedding
  • Household items (decor, dishes, lamps, etc.)
  • Furniture

All food and toiletries should be bagged in the grocery bags provided, while all other donations may be sorted into the blue bags or placed loosely within the
donation bins. Large items, such as furniture and wood scraps, may be placed outside next to the


Click here to download a suggested timeline for move-out, along with tips for the process.

Ask your Res. Hall’s front desk or RA if you need additional bags.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can download a suggested timeline for move-out here.

Want more information on what’s donatable? Visit the Resident’s page for a detailed guide on how to donate.

The Res. Hall Move-Out Donation Drive is a collaboration between OSU Campus Recycling, Surplus Property, and UHDS. Visit the Move-Out page for more information on the Donation Drive.

Question of the Week: 2014 Move-out Goal

June 4th, 2014 | Kyle Reed

ChicoBag-win-meTime for our Question of the Week!

The first person to respond with the correct answer will win an OSU ChicoBag

Submit your answer here (“Leave a Reply,” below) or on our Facebook page. Only one post per person, please.

Question of the Week

The Move-out Donation Drive diverts waste from the landfill by providing a means for students to donate their unwanted items to local nonprofits. What is this year’s goal?


28,000 lbs.

If you live in a Res. Hall, you can help by placing any extra or unwanted items into the donation bins, which are located on the first floor lobby of each Res. Hall.

For more details on how to donate, and what is donatable, visit here.

And congratulations to Valeria Ursu for winning this week’s segment of the Question of the Week!

Energize Corvallis hiring Seeds for the Sol Interns

May 30th, 2014 | Paige Thompson


energize-corvallis-summer-2012-internsEnergize Corvallis has Project Coordinator Internships available to assist the “Seeds for the Sol” team. These volunteer internships are ideal for people who have great conversational skills, a passion for renewable energy and community development, and a desire to make real change in our community. Project Coordinator Interns are dedicated to raising awareness about Seeds for the Sol, a community solar program that is pioneering a new economic model for funding residential solar-electric systems. This is a unique opportunity to help develop, manage, and evaluate a new community solar program including a marketing outreach campaign, events, program analysis, and policy implications. Internship credits are available.

Applications are due on June 3. Please see the attached for more information, or click here

Question of the Week: AOR Conference

May 28th, 2014 | Kyle Reed

bottle-isolatedTime for our Question of the Week!

The first person to respond with the correct answer will win a reusable 20 oz. water bottle.

Submit your answer here (“Leave a Reply,” below) or on our Facebook page. Only one post per person, please.

Question of the Week

The 36th annual AOR Conference and Trade Show features opportunities to attend workshops, tours, and networking with recycling professionals and experts in waste reduction. When is the last day to register for the conference to take advantage of the Early Bird rates?


May 30th (This Friday).

OSU staff and students receive the discounted member rate.

Check out the conference agenda and details online at AOR’s website.

And congratulations to Cathy Duong for being this week’s winner!

Waste Watchers Spotlight: Kyle Knight

May 27th, 2014 | Kyle Reed

KKnightName: Kyle Knight

Title/Nickname: KKnight

Degree: Industrial Engineering + Economics

Year in School: Senior

When did you start volunteering with the Waste Watchers?

April 2012.

What has been your favorite project or event that the Waste Watchers have been involved in?

The repair fairs, and get caught green-handed.

What keeps you volunteering with the Waste Watchers?

My favorite part is meeting great people, the fun events, and the leadership development.

What would you like to see the Waste Watchers do in the future?

I think the waste watchers should continue doing the Repair fairs and focus on ways to reach even more students and community members.

What is one way you reduce waste in your everyday life?

I carpool to campus and I have started a small garden at my townhouse. Both of these acts reduce carbon waste and have other sustainability beneficial impacts.

Want to learn more about the Waste Watchers? Visit the volunteer webpage to learn more about how to get involved.

SSI Travel Grantee: Decker McElroy

May 24th, 2014 | Rachel Tholl
Decker McElroy was granted a $50 SSI travel grant in order to attend the Divestment Convergence in San Francisco, California in April of 2014. Decker wrote a summary of  the experience for the Ecologue.



On the weekend of April fourth students from 75 schools across the US and Canada meet to San Francisco for the second ever Divest Convergence. I got to go down with three other students to represent OSU and learn more about divestment from fossil fuels as a movement.  The general goal of the divestment campaign is to take college and university money out of fossil fuel investments in order to lower educational institutions contribution to global warming and to send a message that fossil fuels are harmful to society. At the convergence we got to learn about other schools successful campaigns and what steps they took to get their schools to divest.

Going to the convergence made me realize that OSU is ahead of many other universities in sustainably issues but we have a long way to go to achieve divestment. People knew OSU by name and knew about our specific sustainability actions and goals! The schools that have been successful in divesting are mostly small private schools. This gives OSU a chance to be the first big public school to divest and lead the way in sustainability for schools across the country. I learned that divestment will be a slow process but that by using the advice given by experts at the conference OSU should be able fully divest from fossil fuels. I came back being proud of OSU and its sustainability efforts.

- Decker McElroy

Electric vehicles and the Duck Curve

May 24th, 2014 | Brandon

We love it when three of our favorite things come together: solar power, electric vehicles and flattening ducks! Greentech Media recently posted an article on the timing of electric vehicle charging and how it can compliment additional power sent to the electric grid from solar resources.  The basic principle is that as the sun shines and electricity is put on the grid from solar arrays, strain is eased on the electric grid making it a good time to charge electric vehicles.

Over the course of a day, the power profile on a grid rich with solar electricity generation looks something like a duck.

During the lowest part of the curve – typically midday – is a good time for workplace electric vehicle charging.  That is, if you have them at your workplace like OSU does.

Another fun tidbit: offering EV charging can equate to a 5% raise. Read ChargePoint’s case study to find out how EV charging can raise employee satisfaction by 75% and help meet sustainability goals. So enjoy this summer’s sun and if you drive do it in an efficient electric vehicle and help flatten the duck!