March 22, 2012
Heidi Luce ’13, left, and Melissa Gayle ’12 are hoping to inspire others to make more sustainable decisions.
Melissa Gayle ’12 isn’t waiting for someone else to take charge. She knows if there is going to be a shift to a sustainable living culture, students like her need to take the lead.
“It is up to us to lead that charge as the future leaders of the world,” said Gayle, a marine science biology major with a minor in environment science.
Gayle, along with Heidi Luce ’13, members of the student organization Focus UT, are hosting a Clean Energy Forum on March 24 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Plant Hall’s Fletcher Lounge. The free event includes student leaders, energy and sustainability experts and will culminate in a round table discussion of problems and possible solutions to issues impacting Tampa Bay.
“This event isn’t just for environmental biologists. It’s about everyone coming together to support the movement,” said Gayle, calling it a green revolution. “We want to give people a better awareness of energy alternatives out there.”
At the forum, Jacquie Ayala (Southern Energy Network), Tim Eves (NTE Energy) and Pam Lunn (Dancing Goat Dairy), among others, will explore biodiesel, hybrid and solar energy technologies, and the importance of local farming and grass-roots activism.
“In the end, it is up to students to influence what they want on campus,” including the use of renewable fuel sources, said Luce, a marine science biology major.
The event is being held in collaboration with Focus the Nation (FTN), a national youth empowerment organization, which selected UT as one of 28 campuses to have FTN leaders. The organization has been working with Luce and Gayle since fall 2011 to increase their energy literacy and identify challenges and opportunities unique to their communities.
The theme of the year-long partnership is clean energy, and between Feb. 7 and March 24, as part of FTN’s Forums-to-Action (F2A) program, students across the country will host Clean Energy Forums to drive solution-oriented clean energy collaborations between their campuses and communities.
Daniel Huber, associate professor of biology and chairman of the
Faculty Sustainability Committee
, said he was interested in the partnership because he envisions sustainability becoming a part of the University culture.
“The students are the largest part of our community, and so one of the ways that I hope to develop this culture is in a grass roots way by empowering them,” said Huber. “Focus the Nation is also a terrific leadership development program, so it seemed like a great way to develop future leaders of society within our University community.”
Huber said collaborative efforts are the most effective way to solve problems with a holistic understanding.
“I hope that people leave the event with the knowledge that we are facing serious problems, but that we are also capable of addressing these problems and bringing about significant change within our community and ultimately on a global scale,” he said. “People are the motivators of change, and so it is important that we spread knowledge of energy and environmental issues so that the community has the knowledge to make sustainable decisions in their daily lives and demand sustainable decisions from our government.”
The event is free and open to the public. Pre-event registration is encouraged. For more information or to register, go to
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