Friday, March 29, 2019

Leadership lived: Student helps lead recycling and sustainability efforts at UIS

Before coming to the University of Illinois Springfield, Caleb Froidcoeur admits he wasn’t passionate about the environment. However, that all changed when he arrived on campus and got involved in efforts to increase recycling and sustainability.

“I don't really know where it came from, but once I got to college I realized that the environment was really my calling and there's just something about being out in nature and really being immersed,” he said.

The senior environmental studies major from Minooka, Illinois is now a Campus Sustainability Projects Coordinator. He helps take project ideas, like refillable water bottle stations and low emission vehicle (LEV) parking spaces, from the drawing board to reality.

Froidcoeur was recently part of a $3,654 PepsiCo funded grant that explored whether “bedazzled” or more aesthetically pleasing recycling bins made people more likely to recycle on campus. The study ultimately found that bin aesthetics did not impact recycling behavior.

“Taking part in that research really helped me to kind of develop skills with working in a team,” he said. “I never really worked in a team that was larger than three or four people.”

The bins purchased as part of the study are now being deployed in campus housing. Froidcoeur and other advocates are training resident assistants to encourage recycling behavior among students living in on campus residence halls, townhouses and apartments.

“Hopefully with residents recycling in a better way we'll be able to avoid any contamination with the recycling,” he said.

Following graduation with his bachelor’s degree, Froidcoeur plans to stay at UIS to earn his master’s degree in environmental studies. He’ll also be taking advantage of the Graduate Public Service Internship (GPSI) Program.

“It's hard to pass up an internship, paid stipend, and also nine credit hours of my tuition covered,” he said.

Froidcoeur would ultimately like to work as a conservation or restoration specialist for a state or national park. He credits UIS for helping him make his career decision.

“I'm glad I came to UIS,” he said. “I've never experienced a situation where the professors were as involved in my life as they are here. They really help me to figure out where I should be going and what I should be doing with my life.”

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