FAMU’s Sustainability Institute host eco-lab block party

Photo Credit Leondra Santil

Florida A&M University Sustainability Institute hosted the retool your school Ecolab block party on Saturday, at the construction site between the campus recreation center and student gravel parking lot.

The block party gathered student volunteers, staff, and the Home Depot construction crew from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm to actively engage and work on the what will soon become FAMU’s very first eco-lab.
The construction of the eco-lab is a result of FAMU winning a  $30,000 grant from the 2016 Home Depot Retool your School contest.
Recent environmental science graduate and current University of Michigan student, Andrea Pugh, finalized the proposal entered in the contest. Pugh explains the Ecolab concept and says she's excited for it to come to life.
“I wanted to incorporate an area for social integration, studying, and relaxing as well as incorporating sustainability,” Pugh said. "I'm now in grad school, so to come back and see this actually in the physical sense is amazing, because it's only been on paper."
The Eco Lab will teach sustainable practices including composting and gardening. Hands-on learning will also serve as a main feature of the lab. Students of all majors were welcome as well as members of the community.

Photo Courtesy of Leondra Saintil

Student volunteers and staff members expressed their enthusiasm for what the new eco-lab will mean for FAMU.

The Sustainability Institute's administrative coordinator, Kayana Gaines, says the eco-lab is an opportunity to engage in sustainable practices that will greatly impact students.

“There’s so many opportunities for us to engage students and offer them opportunities to learn outside of the classroom. We’ve been able to work across disciplines, from engineering students, architecture students, and agriculture students,” Gaines said. “It impacts us in ways that I don’t think most of our students realize but once we’re able to show them how they can make small changes, then I think people will embrace it.
Volunteers were able to contribute towards the building process by planting herbs, vegetables, building compost structures and pathways.
Later phases of construction will include a 16-foot by 16-foot pavilion to provide a shaded gathering place and additional seating. In addition, a team of students from the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering are designing a solar energy project that will be installed on a service shed at the site, which was the former FAMU dairy barn.
Among multiple student volunteers, Ryan Kornegay, a senior food science major said he’s excited about the eco-lab and the experience it will bring students.
“I think this Ecolab will not only give students a hands-on learning experience but it will also give students in other majors an opportunity to see what environmental science, agriculture and  all of these things mean, also why it matters to the community,” said Kornegay.
With FAMU being a school of agriculture, the eco-lab is another example of  sustainable efforts being made for the university.
“When people look at the history of FAMU, this Ecolab is basically a testament of what the A in FAMU represents, agriculture,” Kornegay said.