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Webinar: Sustainability at Community Colleges: It’s More Than Recycling

May 1 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm EDT

This webinar was rescheduled from April 10 to May 1.

I conducted and analyzed interviews with sustainability professionals at community colleges, specifically those with enrollment under 10,000 students in the Midwest. Targeting this enrollment ceiling specifically because I want to compare apple to apples. Larger community colleges are often well funded with multiples staff members. Colleges with smaller programs are usually one staff member with the occasional student worker. By talking with other sustainability staff, collecting information, and sharing some of the approaches that work (and didn’t) I hope to help community colleges of the same size meet their sustainability goals.

I am also a full-time sustainability professional at a community college where I am the creator and director of the college’s sustainability program. This is where my research is founded. I found myself a bit stuck as I could not move initiatives forward at my institution. In the past I have found inspiration through national conferences where I can hear from other sustainability professionals about their strategies and accomplishments and adapt those successful ideas back to my own college. Covid had a profound effect of this networking and many of my colleagues found ourselves in a similar positions. I saw an opportunity to research and share information through this program.

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Kim Hankins, Director of Sustainability, McHenry County College

Kim Hankins is the first full time Administrator dedicated to sustainability at McHenry County College however Sustainability has been a part of day-to-day life at MCC for more than 25 years. Under Kim’s direction, the annual events include publication of the Green Guide, a comprehensive listing of recycling resources throughout McHenry County and beyond; the Green Living Expo, held in early November and now in its 16th year, this event focuses on promoting green business and environmental advocacy. Kim has also been the primary force behind implementation of the food scrap composting program at MCC and the installation of 5 (soon to be 9!) elective vehicle charging stations. The Sustainability Center hosts and manages the ReUse It corner which offers gently used office supplies to students for no charge. To date the ReUse It corner has saved MCC students over $50,000. The campus also has two solar installations; one at the Shah Center with 336 ground mounted solar photovoltaic panels and one on main campus which is a demonstration project for powering high tunnels.

Kim is current President of the Board of the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County and oversees the Board of Directors, Action Team Chairs and four staff. Kim holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental policy from Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY, and a master’s degree in environmental science from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. Kim is currently a doctoral candidate in Educational Sustainability at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. Kim lives in Crystal Lake, IL with her husband; two sons and frequent zoom meeting attendee, dog Georgia.