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Sustainability students visit Topeka for Wealth Day

Students in sustainability were able to attend WEALTH day at the Topeka capital on March 12. The students who attended had their own table to talk about Pitt State’s programs including the breathe easy campaign, sustainable operations, the university sustainability committee, students for sustainability, student sustainability funding committee, and Nature Reach. 

“I thought it was great exposure for PSU & it was a great networking opportunity for student professional development,” said Erin Kruse, junior in sustainability, society, and resource management (SSRM) and Political Science. 

Kruse went to the event because of her involvement as president of both of Pitt State’s sustainability-based clubs. However, her background as a double major in political science also came into play when the students were invited by the senate floor by Richard Hildebrand for special recognition.  

“I was most excited about being invited to the senate floor,” Kruse said. “I plan to go into social policy in my career, so it was really interesting to see the inner workings of the state senate.” 

The students had a photo opportunity with Hildebrand at the end of the day. Another who attended WEALTH day was SSRM junior Charlie Beetcher. He said that his first trip to the state capital an eventful one.  

“I enjoyed visiting with other sponsors and guest during the showcase solutions,” Beetcher said. “There was all sorts of information to learn about from monarch butterfly conservation, solar energy, water protection, and farming.” 

All of the students who were able to go had a variety of opportunities, and Triplett said that they seemed prepared for each one that came their way. 

“The students were prepared and focused on getting the most out of the experience,” Jim Triplett, emeritus professor of biology said. “I was so very proud of them.  There was little doubt in anyone’s mind how committed and enthusiastic our students were about sustainability program at PSU.  The students make the extra time and effort to participate in these activities worth it.  This kind of exposure to a variety of professional and stakeholder organizations and their members is critical to student development.” 

Beetcher echoed the importance of exposure to issues of sustainability at a larger scale than the university. 

“It’s important stay current and be informed about issues at the local and regional levels, which cumulatively affects the world,” he said. Pitt State offers the program of Sustainability, Society, and Resource Management – which will be an effective tool for how complex and difficult decision making has become. The University is setting an example with its own facility improving performance through academics, operations, and administration.” 

Triplett said that the experience as a whole was topped off by a touch of home 

“The experience had many best parts,” he said. “However, the fact that our local government officials made an effort to come by and spend time at our booth, so the students could visit with them, was pretty special.  Representative Monica Murnan was there almost before we were through setting up our display and returned many times during the day to help connect us to other legislators.  City Commissioner Sara Chenoweth and County Commissioner Jeremy Johnson were both present and very supportive of our effort… We got to sit in the VIP area on the floor and got to stand up as [Hildebrand] introduced each of us in turn with a brief bio.  He then told everyone how PSU was the first Regents Institution to go Tobacco-Free and the only one to offer a four-year degree in sustainability.  He capped off his presentation with Once A Gorilla, Always A Gorilla, which I thought was a nice touch.” 

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