We have 460 schools with participants signed up for Project Green Challenge. How cool is that?! And Indiana University is leading the way…
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
Students can log onto www.projectgreenchallenge.com to learn how to sign up and more about challenges, prizes and participants. Though the challenge begins Oct. 1, registration will remain open after that date.
More students are signed up for the inaugural Project Green Challenge at IU than from any other university in the country.
Approximately 100 IU students have already pledged to take the 30-day challenge, with hopes to engage and educate high school and collegiate students on leading a green lifestyle through small changes.
Judi Shils, founder and director of Teens Turning Green, a California-based nonprofit organization, conceived the challenge idea in the spring. In designing the competition, Shils recruited environmentally conscious campus leaders from across the country.
Ellen Spurgeon, chief and director of sustainability for the IU Student Association, helped bring the challenge to IU. She serves as a campus liaison and is one of 12 Project Green Challenge interns.
“I was skeptical at first if IU had the demographic for it,” Spurgeon said of the perceived lack of support for sustainable efforts at IU. “It’s different in San Francisco. Here, it’s a select group. I just didn’t know how worthwhile it would be.”
After assessing potential benefits and receiving a few convincing calls, Spurgeon threw herself into the planning of the challenge. She developed an outreach plan targeted at various campus organizations, such as Union Board and the Student Sustainability Council.
Those who take the challenge, which occurs Oct. 1-30, will receive a daily email containing a challenge to complete that day. These challenges were written by students, eco-minded companies and nonprofits and will range in topic from food to fashion to fitness.
Emails will also include video messages from celebrity spokespeople and green authorities and supporters, as well as resources to help participants complete each task.
Challenges will prompt participants to use social media to share photos, videos and experiences with others across the country and internationally. They will ask students to make a small change in their daily lives that could have a larger impact.
“Our goals are trying to demonstrate what can change very easily and help students see change happen and become green advocates on their own campus,” Shils said. “My ulterior motive is to show kids how really powerful they are. If they can work together — cross schools, cross states — we will have critical mass, and the change will happen.”
Each challenge has three levels of difficulty: green, greener and greenest. More involved and creative responses will increase students’ chances of winning a variety of daily prizes.
Many sponsors, such as Whole Foods and The Container Store, are helping Teens Turning Green offer the daily challenge prizes.
The competition offers larger prizes, such as gift cards, food and supplies for the top-10 student contributors and a grand prize that includes a $5,000 college scholarship, makeover and eco dorm room transformation.
The most successful school will also receive a yet-undetermined reward, Spurgeon said.
Noting the importance and achievability of the challenge, Shils encourages all students to consider the initiative.
“Take a dive. You have nothing to lose,” she said. “It’s a great way to create habits and actions that will stay with you for the rest of your life. And there are cool prizes.”
With just one day left until the start of the competition after months of dedication and hard work, both Spurgeon and Shils have high expectations for the challenge.
“I want students to walk away with a feeling of accomplishment,” Spurgeon said. “It is easy to implement these steps and realize it is easy to take part in the green movement and that there is a big community for this, even if at IU it doesn’t feel like that.”
Shils complimented IU’s participation in the challenge thus far.
“Ellen was one of the most spirited responses we’ve had,” she said. “I’ve been really inspired and amazed by her energy. To see kids this powerful, this committed, this passionate — that’s the goal. That power of one is living proof on your campus. I applaud all of you.”