Iowa Lakes honored for sustainability
Its school colors may be blue and gold, but Iowa Lakes Community College is green all the way through, as a recent sustainability award from the U.S. Department of Education showed.
Iowa Lakes was the only school in Iowa and one of only nine postsecondary schools in the nation to be named a Green Ribbon School Postsecondary Sustainability Awardee. The award is given to schools that reduce environmental impact and costs, improve health and wellness, and teach effective environmental education.
The college sent two representatives to Washington, D.C., for the July 19 awards ceremony — Steve Olerich, dining service supervisor, and Bill Lapczenski, director of auxiliary services.
“People look at and recognize the fact that we are a Green Ribbon sustainability school,” Olerich said. “In some cases, (that) makes the difference on coming here (for classes). I believe we’ll try and keep that edge.”
At the ceremony, officials praised Iowa Lakes for its 66,000 square foot garden, which provides healthy produce for students and community members, and for its wind turbines, used both for training purposes and for generating power. The education department’s blog also praised Iowa Lakes for its geothermal renewable energy systems, controlled heating and lighting, automatic hand dryers and its practice of recycling food service grease for biodiesel. Multiple programs include core practices geared toward sustainability.
After the awards were given out, honorees were encouraged to network with each other. Olerich picked up some useful ideas for the garden, such as different watering practices, and chatted about cover crops and composting with other awardees.
“Your work is not done,” said Holly Ham, assistant secretary for management with the U.S. Department of Education, at the ceremony. “This special day is just the start of your green school journey. Your role now is to mentor other schools… so that they can learn from your promising practices.”
For more information about the awards and the awardees, visit https://www2.ed.gov/programs/green-ribbon-schools/.
Iowa Lakes Community College representatives accept their award from the U.S. Department of Education. From left: Holly Ham, assistant secretary for management with the U.S. Department of Education, Bill Lapczenski, director of auxiliary services, Steve Olerich, dining service supervisor, and Adam Honeysett, managing director of state and state and local engagement with the U.S. Department of Education.
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Iowa Lakes marketing office at 712-362-7944