Educating Sustainable Leaders
When I registered for the Sustainable Living and Leadership Series (SLLS) course in 2021, I didn’t realize there’d be homework, quizzes, research, and ultimately, mind-blowing enlightenment.
I thought I’d learn a few things to help my 8-year-old daughter, Ella, along her quest to live on a clean Earth and teach others better environmental attitudes. But I found myself immersed in what felt like post-graduate-level learning that enriched me — while disturbing me — beyond expectations.
But to be disturbed is paradoxically to be inspired when it comes to living more sustainably. I walked away fulfilled with new insight and tools, but also disappointed that this type of teaching isn’t required for all humans everywhere. Anyone who breathes should need to earn a degree in sustainability.
We students gained perspective through evaluating our impact. Kudos to the organizers for including the leadership aspect, because a necessary result of educating us is also empowering us to in turn lead action within our communities.
But we don’t have to feel overwhelmed. The driving focus of the course was for each of us to work on our own personal action plans. You can do the same. Start within your home. Switch to reusable straws, bags and storage — move away from single-use plastic. If it’s yellow, maybe let it mellow. Upgrade to that energy-efficient appliance and light bulb.
Some students already are doing amazing things beyond their homes. Some are teachers, educating the future generations. Some are members of nonprofits working tirelessly to educate and enact policy change.
EverythingBrevard magazine looks forward to highlighting in 2022 some of the people and programs making an impact on the Space Coast when it comes to sustainability.
The SLLS course is a collaborative effort between the University of Florida IFAS Extension, Michigan State University Extension, and Purdue University Extension.
I consider myself one of the lucky 50 people to have completed the seven-week course, which has been offered twice.
According to exit surveys, 93% increased knowledge, 93% said they changed behaviors that were better for the environment, 78% saved money, and 72% improved their quality of life. Ninety percent said they were more comfortable taking on leadership roles, and 52% said they would start or increase volunteering.
The course is being refined after reviewing feedback. Future stand-alone modules will cover topics like climate change, land use and planning, landscaping, and transportation.
The program’s goals for participants:
- Gain knowledge and adopt sustainability practices
- Become leaders/influencers on sustainable practices in their community
- Gain science-based knowledge that aids in influencing policy making
“We are far from done,” said Linda Seals, UF/IFAS Extension Regional Specialized Agent in Community Resource Development. (IFAS=Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.).
She was referencing the course composition. But that also applies to sustainability as a whole. We are, indeed, so far from done.
Interested in learning more about sustainability or getting on the waitlist for the next course?