MESS, Honors Program cosponsor environmental essay contest

The Murray Environmental Student Society along with the Murray State Honors Program and URSA are cosponsoring Murray State’s third annual environmental essay contest.

All Murray State students are invited to submit a 500-750 word proposal about one event, program, or project Murray State could adopt within the next three years.

Each proposal will be rated and evaluated by 2-3 judges that consist of professors, students and staff of Murray State based on originality, relevance, impact, feasibility, and clarity/academic merit. The idea needs to be new to Murray State, as well as fulfill a real need on campus and contribute to a more environmentally sustainable campus. The idea outlined in the essay also should be presented in a way that makes it achievable.

Former Murray State students, Sarah Kelty from Louisville, Ky., and Sarah Norris from Louisville, Ky., along with Guinevere Lewis, junior from Wilmore, Ky., created the contest as a service project for Claire Fuller’s BIO 103 course: Saving Planet Earth.

“We hoped it would get people thinking about sustainability in regards to our campus; both students and faculty,” Lewis said.

After a contest winner and their idea is selected, the sponsors of the essay contest try to collaborate with whoever is the appropriate person depending on the winning idea and its course of implementation, Lewis said.

“In previous years, we have had a grant writing workshop with Dr. Long that the finalists can attend,” Lewis said.

In 2010, Elizabeth Holbrook from Ballard County, Ky., won the essay contest with her idea to distribute reusable shopping bags at the beginning of the year to each student. She suggested the design of each bag should “incorporate Murray State University’s logo, colors, and effort in the global push for a more sustainable earth”.

In the fall of 2010, the University Bookstore gave away free reusable bags to students.

The spring 2011 winning essay was written by Miranda Brown, senior from Winchester, Ky., for her proposal to implement reusable to-go containers and cutlery in the dining halls.

The second and third place ideas both resulted in a tie. The second place ideas included a proposal to implement a university rainwater collection system and a proposal to exchange all incandescent light bulbs for florescent light bulbs on campus. A proposal for energy-efficient computer labs and one for making Murray a “more bikeable/walkable community” tied for third.

Miranda Brown’s winning idea has not yet been implemented on Murray State’s campus.

“The contest was designed to get students to identify environmental concerns on campus and then conceptualize solutions. It is meant to encourage students to take collective ownership of Murray State sustainability and think of ways they can initiate large scale change in their local environment,” Kelty said.

The Murray Environmental Student Society, Undergraduate Resources and Scholarly Activities Office, and Honors Program, will formally announce the 2012 winners at an Earth Day awards ceremony on Thursday, April 26th, at 4:00p.m on the Carr Health front lawn.