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Earth Week Primer: PCC students win big at regional sustainability conference

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From left to right: students Matthew Grafton, Tiffany Yount, Chone Poe and Frida Velazquez won the Student Sustainability Challenge pitch fest by coming up with a food insecurity app.

From left to right, students Matthew Grafton, Tiffany Yount, Chone Poe and Frida Velazquez won the Student Sustainability Challenge pitch fest by coming up with a food insecurity app.

This spring, Portland Community College co-hosted and sponsored the annual Washington Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference (WOHESC) at Oregon State University with a participation of more than 400 attendees. 

PCC ‘s Sustainability Office not only assisted with planning but also participated in five presentations and had a group of student leaders who won the pitch fest in the Student Sustainability Challenge. Presentation topics varied on partnering for a clean energy future, intersections of sustainability and basic needs work, sustainable purchasing and more. However, the crown jewel for PCC was the students winning the pitch fest for their innovative food security app idea that came with a $500 award. 

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“This team worked diligently together, maximizing their down time to find a creative solution for the challenge prompt,” said Chelsea Kimmett, coordinator of sustainability leadership and basic needs for the Student Life & Leadership Office. “They do this work everyday, delivering direct services to students and they designed a meaningful process to support food insecurity programs. It was very exciting to see them win the challenge. Community college students are often underestimated in these settings. The PCC Eco Social Justice Ambassadors team has incredibly bright and motivated student leaders, and we were thrilled to see them in the top spot!”

The conference brought together colleges and universities across Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. This year’s sessions, workshops, and networking at WOHESC empowered participants to advance environmental and social justice. WOHESC facilitated information sharing, networking, and collaboration related to innovative sustainability practice and research.

Organized by Northwest higher education institutions, a different school hosts each year to inspire change, facilitate action, and promote collaboration around sustainability within the region. Many students, staff, and other members of the higher education community attended the conference and helped make the event a success.

“As a longtime co-sponsor and planning committee member of the Washington Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference, we were thrilled to have this conference in person once again,” said  Briar Schoon, sustainability manager. “The value of providing this opportunity to engage with peers and local thought and industry leaders on the important topics of sustainability, carbon neutrality and climate justice with a regional focus cannot be overstated. Even more, about half of the attendees are students and this provides really impactful learning and professional development opportunities for them.”

Next year’s WOHESC is at Western Washington University.

For more information on the college’s sustainability practices or know more about its climate action plan, visit the Sustainability webpage.

About Misty Bouse

A Portland Community College public relations program specialist, Misty Bouse has been working in college advancement for more than eight years. A graduate of University of Oregon, Misty has worked as a managing editor for BUILDERNews Magaz... more »