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Ryan Johnson, Published January 20 2013

Greening up NDSU, one parking lot at a time

FARGO – A new push to relaunch a former program is asking members of the North Dakota State University campus community to keep their space clean and green while earning bragging rights.

Student Environmental Advisory Council Vice President Ann Podoll said the group successfully ran an Adopt-a-Lot program, asking student organizations to volunteer to pick a parking lot to keep clean and free of trash in exchange for getting their name on a sign posted at the entrance of the lot.

But that changed a few years ago when the president graduated and membership waned, she said, and Podoll and other new members are now working to restart the effort.

“We’re still at the beginning stages of building it up and getting more members,” she said.

Six to 10 students now meet twice a month, and new President Blake Thilmony said the group spent the past fall finalizing guidelines that organizations will have to follow if they want to be involved.

The rules are simple, she said: The group must maintain its assigned lot two times per month during the academic year while also picking up the surrounding grass and sidewalk areas. In exchange, they get bragging rights and also can use the experience toward required service hours.

Associate Director of Facilities Operations Pete Zimmerman said that covers a lot of ground – the university’s 45 parking lots encompass about

2 million square feet.

Thilmony said seven student groups so far have signed on to start patrolling lots this semester, and organizers are open to allowing groups of faculty members, university staff or anyone interested to get on board.

“I think it’s important because, to me, having Bison pride isn’t just supporting the football team at the games; it’s supporting the entire school,” she said.

Secretary Katie Danielson said it’s important to keep the campus clean and presentable, especially when prospective students visit what may one day be their university.

“I think it shows that we take care of our campus and we’re proud of its presentation and how awesome it is,” she said.

The Adopt-a-Lot program isn’t the only thing SEAC members are doing to make the campus a little more environmentally conscious and cleaner. Danielson said they’re organizing an Earth Day campus cleanup.

Thilmony said another goal is to “copycat” the Neutral Gators program at Florida State University, which started with an effort to offset carbon emissions from one football game. Over the course of four years, the program became so successful that it now plants enough trees to offset all of the electricity used at the stadium during home games and fuel used during travel for the entire season.

“We’re kind of trying to get it rolling and get people interested,” she said.

If their efforts are successful, she said the “Green Bison” program could give football fans here just another reason to be proud of their team.

SEAC co-adviser Shauna Pederson said the Adopt-a-Lot program gives students a chance to fulfill their “civic duty” while also building a sense of community on the campus.

“It’s a good thing to clean up the area you live in and just take pride in that,” she said.

Adopt-a-Lot program

If interested in participating in the Adopt-a-Lot program, call Shauna Pederson at (701) 231-8056 or email her at shauna.pederson@ndsu.edu.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587