Luisa Garza—Focus on Environmental Conservation

"There is a thread that I have been able to follow that allows me to constantly question what I am doing and what is the greater impact to the world because of it.”

“I just wouldn’t be myself if I wasn’t involved in multiple levels of environmental conservation,” says Luisa Garza, lead groundsworker for University Housing and Food Service (UHFS).

From making fire safety plans for her family as a fifth-grader, to launching a Greenpeace club at her community college, to implementing integrated pest management practices at Chico State, Garza has maintained a fierce focus on conservation since she was a little girl.

“I have always seen the value of water, and always wondered about the entire link between when the light switch goes on and where that power comes from,” say Garza. “There is a thread that I have been able to follow that allows me to constantly question what I am doing and what is the greater impact to the world because of it.”

Following that thread won Garza a Governor’s Employee Safety Award in 1997 and the Paul Maslin Environmental Stewardship award in 2010, among other honors. Perhaps her greatest influence on Chico State is the Diversion Excursion program she co-founded in 2000.

In its 11th year as a partnership between UHFS and Associated Students Recycling, Diversion Excursion netted 21,547 pounds of electronics, clothes, canned goods, furniture, and other items in May 2011.

As students move out of residence halls, 160 or so volunteers take donations of goods, sort them, and prepare them for new uses.

“Diversion Excursion accomplishes a lot,” says Garza. “We get positive response from housing residents. The community recognizes that Chico State students are making a commitment. And it shows the charities that college students can be generous.”

It’s the impact on students that matters most to Garza. “I constantly talk about environmental conservation, model it, and discuss it in as many ways as possible. I have seen the changes in numerous generations of students—they consider the consequences of their actions for the current and future generations.”

And students give her something, too. “There is nothing better than being surrounded by youthful, zestful, thoughtful, and curious young people.”

Luisa Garza