Institute for Sustainable Development

Our Sustainable Future - CSU, Chico

Meet Chico State's Sustainability Coordinator

Jillian Buckholz Engages Chico Students

November 2006

One person who will be a steadying and constant presence at the Nov. 2-5 This Way to Sustainability II conference is Jillian Buckholz, the university's sustainability coordinator since April.

Among Buckholz's goals is that CSU, Chico will continue to "lessen its dependence on fossil fuels and develop renewable energy projects on campus with the aim of becoming climate neutral." She would also like to see a vast improvement in the campus-community transportation system, including a stronger, more accessible around-town bus circuit. Other goals include sustainable purchasing policies and the composting of all yard and food waste.

Jillian Buckholz is also working to see that CSU, Chico is perceived as the environmental school within the California State University system—recognition the campus may soon achieve.

Buckholz serves as the sustainability link between CSU, Chico students and the university's faculty, staff, and administration. Should students approach her with an idea for a project for improving campus sustainability, she will connect these students with the appropriate campus people to help bring their ideas to fruition.

Particularly exciting to Buckholz is the new organic vegetable crop program, a coming collaboration between the University Farm, AS Recycling, AS Food Services, the Chico Food Network, and other groups. The new student-operated organic vegetable farm will start with plants in the ground next spring, and by fall, student-grown vegetables will be served on campus by AS Food Services. The vegetable crop program will start fairly small, with just one acre under cultivation, but considerable growth is possible. A total of 10 acres has been set aside for future use.

Buckholz emphasizes that the organic vegetable crop program is not intended to compete with local organic farms and farmers. In fact, she says, one program goal is to help connect local farmers and "real food" producers to AS and other potential markets in the area. What begins with vegetables may one day include fruits and other locally produced "real food," such as breads and other baked goods.

Buckholz also coordinates the campus "green team," which includes all on-campus environmental groups. In collaboration with student groups, she has been working hard to plan and organize November's This Way to Sustainability II conference. The university's sustainability efforts are also extending beyond natural and social sciences into the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, which began with Joel Rogers' October production of the musical Urinetown.

Sustainability has been her primary interest for quite some time. Buckholz grew up in Ohio and graduated from Ohio University with an environmental geography degree. Before beginning as CSU, Chico's sustainability coordinator she worked in the geography department office, assisted Jeff Mott at the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve, and served as assistant to Jennifer Rotnem, director of environmental programs for the Bidwell Environmental Institute (BEI). She received her master's degree in geography from CSU, Chico in 2005.

Buckholz is excited about the addition of Amy Miller, newly hired as the Associated Students' sustainability coordinator, to the CSU, Chico sustainability team, and particularly excited about the possibilities of collaboration. While Buckholz works on the university side, Miller will focus her efforts on the Associated Students. Several projects that Buckholz coordinates will cross into other parts of the campus community—including the Associated Students—and create a unique opportunity for the two sustainability coordinator positions to complement each other.

"Working together will help bridge the gap between the two different complementary systems that make up the university community," Buckholz says. "Having two people will make all the difference."

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Buckholz is working to see that CSU, Chico is perceived as the environmental school within the California State University system.