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Campus & Community

Seed Money to Grow Green

From Insect Intel to Student Scholarships, Sustainability Fund Awards $270,000 to Campus Projects

By Maggie Haslam

bee rests on plant

From upgrades to the Community Learning Garden to crop research at Terp Farm, 11 projects earned grants from UMD's Sustainability Fund this summer to support green initiatives and engagement at UMD.

Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle

Starting this fall, a new display at the Stamp Student Union may have students thinking twice before squashing the next creepy crawler they encounter on the way to the food court.

Adorned with lady beetles, assassin bugs, skimmer dragonflies and other bugs (safely sequestered behind plexiglass) the “insect display”—one of four coming to campus—will educate passersby on the tiny-yet-useful creatures whose rapidly disappearing populations scientists are calling an “insect apocalypse.”

“These displays will share the magnitude of what they do, from degrading plant debris in forests and cleaning water to culling pesky insects and serving as a food source for birds and other animals,” said entomology Faculty Assistant Helen Craig.

The project is one of 11 2022-23 grants awarded this summer by the University of Maryland Sustainability Fund.

Since 2011, the University Sustainability Council and a student-led committee have directed over $3.7 million from the fund for 180 projects that support campus improvements, student engagement and sustainability-focused research. Past seed money helped kick-start Terp Farm, the Terp to Terp Campus Reuse Store, the restoration of Campus Creek and the use of sphagnum moss for filtration in campus pools. This year’s winners, from a glass recycling initiative on campus to sustainability internship scholarships, were awarded a total of $270,000.

A measure passed by the Student Government Association last year to increase undergraduate student fees will double the Sustainability Fund’s grants for 2023-24 to over $600,000, and to over $800,000 in 2024-25.

“I have high hopes that with this boost in funding, we’re going to get larger and even more impactful projects,” said Scott Lupin, director of the Office of Sustainability.

Here’s a peek at the 10 other winning projects:

Sustainability internship scholarship ($50,000): Subsidizes students in low- or no-paid internships in sustainability fields, including nonprofit organizations and government agencies, affording opportunities to explore work in environmental justice, conservation and more.

Community Learning Garden (CLG) ADA-accessible raised bed renovation ($23,000): A much-needed upgrade to CLG’s raised beds between the Eppley Recreation Center and the School of Public Health will improve functionality, food output and accessibility for students.

Planting red clover ($14,000): New research at Terp Farm in Upper Marlboro, Md., will explore the use of red clover as a “living mulch” for crops like the pest-prone cantaloupe, and track its ability to reduce infestations and disease, attract pollinators and enhance soil composition.

Sustainability conference ($13,000): Organized by the Student Government Association’s Sustainability Committee, this new, in-person and virtual conference highlights research and work at UMD in all facets of sustainability and engage the broader community (including high school students, community colleges and universities nationwide) in environmentally focused topics.

Expansion of glass recycling infrastructure ($13,000): UMD next spring will add six purple bins to the three now on campus available to recycle glass outside Annapolis Hall, Maryland Stadium (Gate E) and Mulligan’s.

Hybrid renewable energy ($13,000): This project will investigate wind-solar systems to determine the required energy density and storage capacity needed to power an off-grid, 24-hour EV charging station.

Floral plantings to support pollinators ($32,000): Native wildflower “strips” flanking food crops at UMD’s Beltsville Agricultural Research Center will explore how continuous blooms might attract the bees, butterflies and other insects essential to pollination and pest control, but also potentially impact native plants in surrounding landscapes.

Terp to Terp ($30,000): The campus reuse store, which offers gently used dorm staples, school supplies and clothing for free to students in need, hopes to expand its reach while reducing campus waste by expanding its outreach and shifting to a year-round collection process.

Campus sustainability engagement and leadership ($53,000): Launched in 2022 as a one-year pilot, this paid internship program will be expanded this year, training students to help lead and support a variety of student sustainability programs on campus, such as Green Terp and Green Office.

UMD Wye Research Center and Campus iTree analysis ($15,000): This project will engage students to assess and plan for the placement of new trees and maximize the benefits of existing ones at the UMD Wye Research and Education Campus in Queenstown, Md.

Schools & Departments:

Office of Sustainability

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