A Publication of WTVP

Ghandi, the inspirational leader for India’s independence during this last century, when asked about his purpose and mission during those tumultuous times of the 1940s, stated “My life is my message.” What was true for him may also be true for organizations. How an institution fulfills its mission may be witnessed by the behaviors of those employed by that business.

At Illinois Central College, where our mission is by changing minds we can change the world, the efforts we have put forth toward recycling and energy awareness are impressive.

For example, the Student Association for the Environment (SAFE) at Illinois Central College was founded in 1987. Since its founding, it has been involved in various activities to bring attention to environmental concerns. Since its inception, SAFE has distributed more than 22,500 trees, which were originally purchased by the students’ recycling 20,000 pounds of aluminum from 1987 to 1996. For over 20 years, SAFE students have performed the Dr. Seuss story, The Lorax, at local elementary schools. SAFE students maintain two nature trails on the 430-acre East Peoria campus by clearing and mulching them annually. Currently, SAFE is exploring the establishment of a composting program. In 2002, the Illinois State Environmental Coalition awarded SAFE the Student Environmental Organization of the Year recognition.

Illinois Central College employees have embraced sustainable practices as well. In the fall of 2007, an ad hoc committee was formed to investigate and plan guidelines for meeting a sustainable future. Based upon the principles of sustainability, business operations, building management and groundskeeping were examined. Areas monitored were: demolition/recycling, electrical, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, plumbing, structure finishes, roads and grounds maintenance, vehicle maintenance, and energy consumption.

Recycling information was collected for eight areas, from paper to clear glass. The two largest areas of tonnage for recycling at the college are paper and cardboard. In 1993, the first year that both items had data, the college recycled 31.12 tons of paper and 11.23 tons of cardboard. In 2008, the college recycled 31.31 tons of paper and 38.25 tons of cardboard. In 15 years of recycling, the college had a high of 51.2 tons of paper recycled in 1998 and a high of 44.54 tons of cardboard in 2001.

Not only have engaged students, employees and faculty assisted in these efforts of sustainability, but the Board of Trustees has also discussed what policy implications there may be for giving direction and support of future challenges we will face in our community, nation and world. In the near-future, the Board will consider drafting language which will be used as a new policy statement on sustainability.

Many other state and local activities have surfaced as indications of a heightened awareness of conservation and informed usage of our natural resources.

There is local discussion about “green technology” which will lead to occupations applying sustainable principles to electrical, plumbing, HVAC-R and general construction. The trade unions are touting “green-collar” jobs as the next wave of workforce opportunities.

The leadership of community colleges in general, and locally at Illinois Central College, is essential for the realization of these aspirations toward a sustainable community. We must be clear to our students and our community that responsible global citizenship requires educational awareness and actual practices implemented at home and the workplace in order to be successful. iBi