Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University

Bonnie Fay '08

Hometown: New Orleans, LA

Majors: Biology, Shepherd Poverty Program, Program in Environmental Studies

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • W&L Eventing Team Captain
  • Kappa Alpha Theta
  • Panhellenic Council
  • Student Recruitment Committee
  • Student Environmental Action League
  • Compost Crew
  • Volunteer Venture
  • The Campus Kitchens Project
  • Teacher Education
  • Reformed University Fellowship

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Spring Term 2006 Abroad in Ecuador through the Biology Department
  • Spring Term “Abroad” 2007 in Yellowstone National Park through the Biology Department
  • R.E. Lee Summer 2006 Research Scholar under Prof. Hamilton, researching soil microbial activity and the effects of ungulate grazers in Yellowstone National Park
  • 2007 Shepherd Alliance Intern at the Peter Paul Development Center in Richmond, VA
  • Volunteer Venture Trip Coordinator in War, WV and Washington, D.C.

Post-Graduation Plans: Veterinary School (hopefully!)

Favorite W&L Memory: Too many to pick just one! The first that comes to mind started in my junior year. I had been on a Volunteer Venture pre-orientation trip as a freshman, and had led two trips as a sophomore and a junior, when a fellow student and I decided that we wanted to create a new trip, to Washington D.C. After weeks of planning, of phone calls and of creating a trip mission statement, itinerary and budget, my friend and I met with the Dean Leonard to pitch our idea. We walked out of his office with a $2500 budget, 10 spots for freshmen participants, and the promise of two additional trip leaders. The trip took place in August and was a huge success; with the trip set to increase to 15 participants in 2008, it is, by far, my greatest accomplishment in my four years here. If my experience is not a testimony of this school’s desire to encourage student initiative, I don’t know what is!

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My interest in the Environmental Studies Program at W&L started at the end of my freshman year. I enrolled in the introductory Environmental Studies course during my first spring term, and I was hooked. I started working at Boxerwood Gardens, a local nature conservatory that offers educational programs for area youth. I also really began to take notice of the beautiful scenery that Lexington has to offer. Growing up in the middle of New Orleans, the concept of mountains was quite foreign to me, and I enjoyed exploring new trails and being able to run outside without feeling smothered by smoggy “city air.” As my appreciation of the landscape grew, so did my desire to help preserve it. I became involved with the Student Environmental Action League, an organization that promotes sustainability on campus, and I decided to enroll in the school’s Environmental Studies Program.

When my advisor approached me about being on the Compost Crew my sophomore year, I thought, “Sure! Why not?” The Compost Crew’s responsibility at the time was to pick up plate scrapings and the food preparation discards from Dining Services in the main cafeteria and take them to large bins on the University’s back campus. As the only female on the crew, I had fun learning how to drive the Biology Department’s pickup truck and how to avoid spilling plate scrapings all over myself (those compost bags are heavy!).

Since my first year as a crew member, the program has expanded significantly. We bought an EarthTub© this year, which makes processing the compost we collect much more efficient. We can now use the organic material from the EarthTub© to grow herbs and vegetables for Dining Services to use in their food preparation. We added collections from Catering Services, and we have plans to start collections at the sorority houses this term. Dining Services has also switched to compostable plastic, which we can gather and add to the food material we collect to reduce the amount of trash that the University produces. For its small size, W&L is taking great steps to promote sustainability and environmentally friendly practices into its daily routine.

As a student, it has been exciting for me to be involved in this process. It’s easy to go through college without knowing all of what goes on “behind the scenes;” all of the manpower and time that keeps a university running at full speed. Working with the University's staff, faculty and students to make this campus more environmentally friendly has offered me a unique perspective that I hope to carry over to my professional life.

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