Student Council Sustainability Officers Initiative kicks off in cities around Arizona

Educators from Tempe, Tucson, and Mesa and Braden Kay from the City of Tempe discuss their vision for implementing SCSO in their school districts and cities.
With great sustainability knowledge comes great sustainability leaders — this is the mantra that Arizona State University School of Sustainability students like Julia Colbert and Kevin Goddard live by. Colbert is a graduate student studying K-12 sustainability education and Goddard is an undergraduate student interested in water policy and sustainable urban design. Together, they have been working hard to get sustainability into K-12 schools through their Student Council Sustainability Officers Initiative (SCSO). Last fall, Colbert and Goddard partnered with the City of Phoenix to transition SCSO from the city to the School of Sustainability. SCSO is focused on adding a Sustainability Officer position to Student Councils to implement student-led sustainability initiatives in K-12 schools throughout the Valley. Projects may include water and energy conservation, cafeteria waste auditing, recycling and even cultural events such as International Night.
ASU sustainability student Kevin Goddard overseeing a group discussion.
Goddard is an alumnus of the program, serving as the Sustainability Officer on Bioscience High School’s Student Council in 2016. He was interviewed about his experience as a Sustainability Officer, stating, “It was a great experience to see what sustainability in action looks like. I really enjoyed having a seat at the table with city leaders to discuss critical sustainability issues in Phoenix. I think it’s really valuable to see sustainability in action in the real world, and I realized that you can have a career in this field.” The SCSO Initiative reached key stakeholders around the Valley on Saturday, March 23, during a forum held at ASU. Colbert and Goddard hosted the forum for 15 educators and four city leaders to begin the visioning process for what collaboration between local school districts and cities would look like with SCSO in place. Participants shared perspectives regarding community needs and barriers to implementation, joining from Phoenix, Tempe, Gilbert, Mesa, Tolleson, Glendale and Tucson.
Educators from Tolleson Elementary School District and Megan Sheldon from the City of Glendale discuss adding SCSO to one of their schools.
Colbert and Goddard believed the forum was very successful and inspiring. Several cities and educators committed to moving forward with the initiative in their school districts. Colbert reflected, “It was amazing to see city leaders and educators uniting to promote student engagement in sustainability. It shows that they really care about the future of our youth. It’s so important to prepare students to work toward a sustainable future because they are our future leaders." The SCSO program is now part of almost all of the schools in the Phoenix Union High School District. Colbert and Goddard envision the program reaching beyond Arizona in the next few years. For more information, contact [email protected].