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Week of March 26, 2012

U-M seeks Planet Blue Student Ambassadors

The Planet Blue Student Ambassador Program is seeking new recruits for the 2012-13 academic year.

Now it its second year, this unique program trains and empowers undergraduate students who will be living in a residence hall or campus apartment to serve as environmental stewards and sustainability leaders on campus. Applications from rising sophomore, junior and senior students are due by April 10, and from incoming first-year students by Aug. 1.

There are two core aspects of the Planet Blue Student Ambassador Program: education and service. All students who are accepted into the program (limited to 15 returning students and 15 new students) are required to take a one-credit course called “Planet Blue Ambassadors Training & Assessment” each semester. Students also dedicate 3-5 hours per week to directly engaging with their peers in the residence halls about how to live more sustainably.

Grace Lieb, who is working toward a Bachelor of Science in earth and environmental science, has served as an ambassador this academic year. Through her involvement in the program, and the two corresponding one-credit courses, she has been instrumental in having a water bottle refill station installed in Bursley Hall, in having the heat reduced in her hall to save energy, and in pursuing trayless dining to reduce food waste.

“The Planet Blue Student Ambassador Program was a stepping stone for accomplishing things I never thought were possible before,” Lieb says. “As an ambassador, my idea of reducing food waste and going trayless was received by faculty and staff with open arms. Everyone rooted for me to make it happen and went out of their way to help me accomplish just that goal.”

Because of the impact of her experience, Lieb will be serving as the student coordinator for the program next academic year.

“The Planet Blue Ambassador Program gives you a voice and an outlet to accomplish virtually anything on campus — and the help and sense of community you get in the process is incredible,” she adds.

Biochemistry student Ben Maynard agrees that being an ambassador is an engaging and empowering experience.

The Plant Blue Student Ambassador Program is accepting applications for its program, which empowers undergraduate students to serve as environmental stewards and sustainability leaders. Above, the current group of ambassadors poses for a photo. Photo courtesy Planet Blue.

“I really appreciate how the Planet Blue Ambassador Program allows us to have a hands-on experience of promoting sustainability in our residence halls — and gives us the independence and resources to pursue our own ideas,” he says. “Jumping head first into an environmental awareness project illustrates the difficulties, methods and, in the end, glorious small successes that come with initiating behavior change.”

Graham Institute Education Director Mike Shriberg, who helps coordinate the training and assessment course, says the program has much to offer students.

“This class builds the leadership, organization and communication skills necessary to have a positive impact on sustainability at U-M,” he says.

“The ambassadors have done some pretty amazing things, engaging in everything from sustainability learning circles to personal sustainability pledges to holiday re-gifting and wrapping parties. As a team, they created Project Green Room, an online tool where students can certify that their rooms are ‘green.’ They are also leading the RecycleMania competition in residence halls,” Shriberg says.

With so many positive outcomes, Lieb calls the program ideal for students who are committed to sustainability — and who want to take action.

“You must continue pushing for causes you are passionate about and carry out the legacy of change, one step at a time,” Lieb says. “That’s exactly what the ambassador program is all about.”

For more information — and a link to the online application — go to the student “Get Involved” page on the Planet Blue website at



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17th Annual Exhibition of Art by Michigan Prisoners, noon-6 p.m., presented through April 4 at the Duderstadt Center Gallery.

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