Spring into Sustainability with UMW’s Youth Climate Conference

Third annual Youth Climate Conference will take place February 25, and businesses can apply for the City Clean and Green Commission’s 2024 Sustainability Award through March 31.

by Abby Knowles

The University of Mary Washington will be holding a Youth Climate Conference on Feb. 25th at the Cedric Rucker University Center to showcase students’ projects, panels, activities, and more. 

Multiple UMW organizations, including the President’s Council on Sustainability, the Office of Sustainability, and the Departments of Anthropology and Earth and Environmental Science, are collaborating on the conference, which will highlight different speakers and sustainability practices—and is all planned and organized by students.

The conference is hosted by the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, which is eager to spread awareness of the ongoing climate crisis through “engaging presentations, hands-on workshops, and interactive installations. Explore innovative solutions, share insights, and join the movement for a sustainable future. It’s time to support our students as they lead, learn, and inspire change!”

Students are working with their professors on getting the word out about the event and creating fliers to put around campus.

There will also be numerous speakers at the event, including David Cooper, Executive Director of the Brisben Center, and Madeline McCullogh, who is the Policy Program Coordinator and Analyst for the National Housing Trust.

Cooper and McCullogh will be discussing energy justice, and how renewable energy benefits everyone. 

To keep with the sustainable theme, merchandise available at the conference will be handed down by the University, to include water bottles and t-shirts with the University’s old logo. 

The conference will also be catered, and all the food will be sustainable and environmentally friendly.

You can view the full agenda here. There is also an RSVP code that people can scan to register for the free event.

Applications are Open for the Clean and Green Commission’s 2024 Sustainability Award

The Fredericksburg Clean and Green Commision will be accepting applications for the award through March 31. This prestigious award will provide recognition for city businesses that consistently implement environmentally sustainable practices.

The award is unique in that any business that applies for and meets the criteria will be recognized.

“This annual award highlights for the community and customers the sustainable practices our local businesses are pursuing and implementing,” said Robert Courtnage, chair of the Clean and Green Commission’s Sustainability Committee. “This program is doing exactly what we intended it to do, which is to incentivize local businesses to be environmentally sustainable and for their actions to be replicated by other local businesses.”

For this year, the award will require participating businesses to agree to implement nine different sustainable practices in their operations—an increase from last year’s requirement of seven practices.

The committee will be searching for businesses that implement practices such as sourcing food locally, eliminating the use of plastic bags and single-use items, composting food scraps, providing vegetarian menu options, implementing a recycling program, and more.

Sarah Hurst, of the Clean and Green Commission’s Sustainability Committee, said, “The Sustainability Award aligns with the Fredericksburg City Government’s larger ‘clean and green’ initiatives, such as striving to meet City Council’s 2019 Renewable Energy Resolution, which endeavors to transition City Government operations to renewable energy by 2035 and the Fredericksburg community at large by 2050.”

Businesses that receive the award for their sustainable practices will be presented a sticker for their storefront and be celebrated on social media. In addition, they will be recognized by the Fredericksburg Mayor Kerry Devine at an upcoming City Council meeting.

Businesses can apply for the 2024 Sustainability Award here.

Intern Abby Knowles is a senior at the University of Mary Washington.