Student projects next year could have bats once again soaring above the University of Georgia campus, grow medicinal herbs at the university’s UGArden, help launch mobile farmers markets and estimate the material and energy needs of greenspaces on the UGA campus.

 UGA’s Office of Sustainability announced its latest round of campus sustainability grants Wednesday, and those were among this semester’s entries. The office and the grants are funded by a $3 per semester fee UGA students overwhelmingly voted to impose upon themselves to create the office in 2010.

Students submitted 28 grant proposals this semester and a panel of judges picked 10 winners who will get grants averaging $4,000 to complete or launch their projects.

Other projects aim to help protect Monarch butterflies, buy small plastic recycling machines and try to track and manage pollution that flows into UGA’s Lake Herrick.

The UGA Office of Sustainability has now awarded $250,000 in such grants, funding 56 projects, UGA Sustainability Coordinator Kevin Kirsche told a crowd of more than 200 at the office’s fall “Semester in Review” program Wednesday in UGA’s Jackson Street Building.

The goal of the office is to get UGA closer to sustainability and carbon neutrality, and student projects — some grant-funded, some not — have led to campus-wide changes.

UGA trash cans all across campus are now paired with receptacles for recyclable materials, for example. That began as a student project in the UGA Miller Learning Center, Kirsche said.

UGA food composting also began as a student project, he said. Food services operations now composts 100 percent of its food waste, keeping it out of landfills, he said.

At UGA buildings there’s a network of composting bins tended by a UGA student riding an electric bicycle.

According to a campus master plan, the university should recycle more and reduce energy and water consumption in the future.

Written by: Lee Shearer