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2019 Student Sustainability Awards

Posted: April 11, 2019

BRS senior, Haley Stauffer to receive Student Sustainability Award on Wednesday, April 17th

The Student Sustainability Awards celebrate the contributions and achievements of students and organizations who have worked to support Penn State’s sustainability efforts on campus, and in the community sponsored by the Sustainability Institute and the Council of Sustainable Leaders.

Haley Stauffer
University Park, Undergraduate Student
Nominated by: Tom Richard, Benjamin Lyman, Janelle Thompson

Haley was the former president of Eco-Action for the 2018-2019 school year. She organized weekly meetings, meaningful field trips, and events. She is also currently participating in an independent study focused on biogas generation at Penn State.
She is working to reduce food waste and lower our campus' carbon footprint.

Haley Stauffer has been actively involved in the University Solid Waste Task force since its inception last summer. Early in that process she realized that the largest component of our waste stream is the compostable stream, that food waste is the
largest fraction of our organics, and that while our pre-consumer food waste composting program is highly successful, the post-consumer fraction has been fraught with problems. These include excess contamination with paper and plastics (including "biodegradable"), some of which becomes blowing litter at the composting site, and a very large unrecovered fraction. That unrecovered fraction represents approximately 700 tons/year, greatly exceeding the recovered tonnage of every other recyclable. At current tipping fees the disposal of these unrecovered organics costs the university over $50,000 per year, and landfilling these residues wastes nutrients and energy. This semester Haley decided to take an independent study to assess the feasibility of transitioning that part of our recycling system to anaerobic digestion prior to composting, and to develop a comprehensive and integrated education and demonstration program using biodegradable tableware. She has been meeting with OPP staff and farmers to discuss equipment options and costs. This summer Haley will be leveraging that information to evaluate the feasibility of providing Penn State with renewable natural gas from dairy and other farms across the state and region.

Haley Stauffer has been a force in the sustainability world at Penn State for her entire undergraduate career. It has been my pleasure to work with her through Eco Action and be fellow executive members. Now, she has taught me and continues to
mentor other members as an ex-Co President and still works with the club in her final year as an undergraduate. Haley served Eco Action as well as countless other initiatives at the University such as the Student Sustainability Advisory Council, Crop
Mob Student Manager with local farms, an intern at the Student Farm, an  undergraduate researcher in waste systems, etc. Haley is a symbol of what  undergraduate students are capable of when they are impassioned and dedicated to progressing sustainability efforts. She serves Penn State and the local community and is a fantastic personality, leader, role-model, and friend. Her efforts at the University include originating the Food for Thought event, developing important connections between local businesses and organizations, and restructuring and maintaining Eco Action as a student organization with significant history at Penn State.

Haley's vision is comprehensive and integrate. She is operationalizing this vision as needed to achieve waste reduction goals, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create a more equitable food system. Sustainable development goals include reducing food waste, which would help achieve zero hunger (goal 2), generate affordable and clean energy ( goal 7), climate action (goal 13), life on land (goal 15) and creating effective partnerships (goal 17). She is partnering with three other students to start a business to commercialize restaurant-scale anaerobic digestion, and this week is pitching that company to the Ag. Springboard for entrepreneurship support in the College of Agricultural Sciences. She is also a board member of the Student Sustainability Advisory Committee Food and Waste subcommittee, and has been active in the student farm.