This month’s member spotlight features Kimberly Hankins, Director of Sustainability at McHenry County College (MCC). With 25+ years experience in federal government, nonprofit and consulting work, Ms. Hankins brings a wealth of knowledge to her college.
Ms. Hankins always had a passion for sustainability and knew she wanted to make a direct and positive impact, as early as when she worked in high school with fourth graders at a nature center. Years later, when a sustainability position opened at MCC, she jumped at the opportunity and immediately began expanding their recycling program to a full sustainability initiative.
MCC leads a variety of sustainability projects that both advance sustainability and engage the local community. Some notable initiatives include:
- The Green Guide – A recycling document with over 300 listings where to recycle in and around McHenry County. This guide receives approximately 80 calls each month from interested students, faculty, administrators and the community.
- Green Living Expo – An all-day event for campus and community members, as well as those interested in finding ways to incorporate sustainable principles into their lives, that features the latest in sustainable living, energy saving ideas, green gifts and educational exhibits.
- Bioneers Speaker Series – The Sustainability Center creates and hosts a speaker series in February each year. Now in its 10th year, this free educational series is a unique opportunity to connect MCC employees, students and the community to cutting-edge environmental topics that directly impact our local economy and community.
Ms. Hankins creates, executes and advocates for these and many other initiatives such as the credit and noncredit options to integrate sustainability into MCC’s curriculum. She helped adopt a model that includes all departments to highlight sustainability practices. For example, the music teacher now uses apps instead of sheet music to reduce printing needs and the English department now give students the option to reflect or develop research papers on sustainable topics. Non-credit students can also learn about beekeeping, essential oils, how to raise chickens and more!
The sustainability project that Ms. Hankins is most proud of is a solar installation project she started when she first joined MCC. “The timing was right. We received a grant through the IGEN Network and the administration was on board. We now have 336 panels in a ground mounted array on a very visible road which is a great visual representation of this institution’s commitment to advance sustainability,” Ms. Hankins shared. “All these projects help teach everyone, regardless of their knowledge of sustainability, about the importance of sustainability in the curriculum and throughout day-to-day life,” she continued.
These and many other sustainability projects support Ms. Hankins’ goal of having all students exposed to sustainability in some way, so when they join the workforce, they can take their sustainability skills with them. For more information on the MCC Sustainability Center, please visit www.mchenry.edu/green.
How does your institution educate the campus and surrounding community on the importance of sustainability? How do you ensure students graduate with sustainability skills? Share in the comments, below!