By Maureen McGonagle, Centers LLC at DePaul University

In 2012, NIRSA’s Strategic Values Commission for Sustainable Communities refined a model of sustainability and developed a list of guiding questions to help NIRSA members understand the what, why, and how of sustainability. Since developing those foundational materials, the Commission’s priority has been educating NIRSA members. The recruitment, training, and support of NIRSA Sustainability Ambassadors is one of the Commission’s primary strategies for educating other members about sustainability.

The Commission for Sustainable Communities is looking for members interested in encouraging sustainable behavior

The Commission for Sustainable Communities is charged with developing a multi-year plan for education, awareness, and implementation of embedding sustainability within NIRSA.
To become a Sustainability Ambassador, members must participate in a one-hour training session—eight have been offered since August 2013—and commit to at least five individual outreach efforts and one group outreach effort over the course of one year. Individual efforts could be individual member contacts or conversations, while group outreach could be an informal presentation with a group of colleagues or at a department staff meeting, or a conference presentation. To date, 41 NIRSA members have stepped up to serve as an ambassador.

The basic message is simple: sustainability is the lens through which collegiate recreation professionals should view their work and strive to reach their fullest potential. The Commission’s goal is to get members to embrace the three pillars of sustainability—social, environmental, and economic—so they are able to fully support and encourage healthy individuals and healthy communities. What an ambassador does is personalize this message, initiate a dialogue with members, and greatly increase the impact of outreach.

“What an ambassador does is personalize this message, initiate a dialogue with members, and greatly increase the impact of outreach.”

From presentations at NIRSA Annual Conferences, Student Lead Ons, state workshops, and regional conferences to in-depth conversations and collaborations with colleagues, Sustainability Ambassadors like Robert Bostick, Linda Clauss, Kelly Tuttle Krahling, Megan Krone, Corné Prozesky, Nate Scott, Dustin Soderman, and Lisa Stuppy have all made numerous efforts to educate their fellow professionals.

Every ambassador produces a ripple effect with their outreach efforts—they increase the Commission’s impact and help create healthy individuals and healthy communities. Whether the effort is on a large or small scale, it contributes to moving NIRSA members’ understanding of sustainability forward.

Every conversation helps, and so an additional Sustainability Ambassador training session will be offered at the 2015 NIRSA Annual Conference & Recreational Sports Expo. This is your chance to help educate fellow NIRSA members about an issue that is central to the collegiate recreation profession! Will you join us?

For more information about Sustainability Ambassadors check out the Commission for Sustainable Communities.