Ball State student wins National Wildlife Federation's Campus Ecology Fellowship

Topics: College of Architecture and Planning, Immersive Learning, College of Sciences and Humanities

April 20, 2007

NWF Fellow
Ball State senior Francesca Hernandez (right) received a Campus Ecology Fellowship from the National Wildlife Federation. She is pictured here with another fellow recipient, Elizabeth Cooke, a Furman University student; and Thomas Gonzalez, a member of the NWF board of directors.
Ball State may be a more pristine environment in the years to come with the help of junior Francesca Hernandez.

The landscape architecture major has received a Campus Ecology Fellowship from the National Wildlife Federation and will be creating a strategic plan for the university to reduce energy use and lower damaging greenhouse gas emissions.

"This fellowship means so much to me," Hernandez said. "I hope that it will be a way that I can contribute in a positive manner to the university in my final year as a student."

Part of her plan is to create an educational campaign to inform incoming freshmen about the importance of energy conservation. She also hopes that it will teach them ways they can reduce energy use without sacrificing anything but time.

"I will be working with the university's electrical engineer to monitor energy use in targeted residence halls so that we can determine whether this educational effort has made a quantitative difference," she said.

Hernandez is the third Ball State student who has received the fellowship, which brings national attention to campus, said James Eflin, chairperson of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management. He said the student-driven project is a good example of an immersive learning experience.

"Francesca is really talented and is taking an aggressive approach," Eflin said. "She's grabbed the bull by the horns and gained national attention."

The first phase of her project is already in motion. She is working with a team of four to conduct a campuswide energy audit. They are using GIS mapping software to create a physical model that displays energy use and efficiency of the university's buildings. The data will be compiled to make a greenhouse gas "footprint" for campus.

Hernandez participated in the National Wildlife Federation's annual meeting in March and said that it was one of the most exciting weeks of her life.

"The annual meeting was an incredible experience," she said. "My experiences in the Business Fellows program prepared me for the social aspects of the meeting and allowed me to contribute on a level that surprised me."

She also spent time lobbying on Capitol Hill and gained a better understanding of the political process.

"I feel that ordinary people have tremendous potential to affect legislation," she said. "I'm more committed to being a part of the political process now."

As part of the fellowship, Hernandez will receive a grant and resources to conduct her project, a National Wildlife magazine subscription and a Campus Ecology membership. She also will be included in the Campus Ecology yearbook.

The National Wildlife Foundation's Campus Ecology Fellows confront global warming on their individual campuses by committing to reduce net emissions of greenhouse gases 30 percent by 2020. The fellows work with their university's administration to develop a climate action plan with the support of their adviser.

By Jody Kress

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