Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium

 Higher Education connecting, collaborating and taking action


Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium

Inspiring higher education throughout PA to lead transformational sustainability efforts through example, expertise, and collaboration. 

2023 Campus Sustainability Champions

The Campus Sustainability Champion title is awarded to students, faculty, administrators, and staff of Pennsylvania colleges and universities who have made meaningful contributions benefiting social, economic and/or environmental sustainability on their campus, in their community, or in society at large. Contributions can be in areas of teaching, research, co-curricular programs, campus culture, community service, and campus operations, including food recovery.

Student Honorees:

Olivia Ave
Allegheny College

Heidi Beardsley
Dickinson College

Isabella Briseno
Penn State University 

London Dejarnette
Allegheny College

Rachel Helt
Lebanon Valley College

Julia Kreuzer
Franklin and Marshall College

Reece Pauling
Bucknell University 

Non-Student Honorees:

Matt Betherum
Allegheny College

Allyssa Decker
Dickinson College

Mahsa Kazempour
Penn State University, Berks Campus

Jennifer Nell
Franklin and Marshall

Maggie McConnell
Bucknell University

Dr. Jennifer Pomeroy
York College of PA

Student Honorees:

Olivia Ave is a member of The Solar Pilot Team at Allegheny College.  This team included 11 Allegheny College students who installed solar panels at a local church as part of the independent study for the Department of Environmental Science and Sustainability. The team worked for several months to install a 14.7kw rooftop  system that is expected to offset more than 80% of the electricity consumption of the church.  The project has both community and college impacts and is a great example of how colleges and communities can work together to advance sustainability.  The project will serve as a model for churches and other organizations to explore the benefits of installing solar, thereby exponentiating the value of the work.

Heidi Beardsley is a Sustainability Data Analyst Intern at Dickinson’s Center for Sustainability Education (CSE).  Heidi was proficient at gathering the necessary data required for our carbon neutrality commitment and helping the CSE to assess, analyze and report the data.  She is a sophomore and has already shown great leadership and acuity in her role, which requires skills in data collection, communication, patience and more.  She has completed her responsibilities with ease and accuracy. 

Isabella Briseno is a talented, astute, motivated, self-starter and kind Penn State University student.  She did an internship at the Sustainability Institute and Executive Director of the Environmental Sustainability Department for University Park. She is a member of the Student Sustainability Advisory Council – advocating for integration of sustainability into academics. In that role, she advocated for operational improvements that reduce carbon emissions.  She has worked collaboratively  with the Penn State community to advance environmental literacy, focusing on environmental justice, ocean literacy and Sustainable Dev. Goals (SDGS). Isabella is a leader in local climate action program, working with two other students to help develop Scranton’s Climate Action Plan.  She also developed Penn State’s first Sustainability Summit and serves on the Ocean Advisory Council.

London Dejarnette is a double major in Environmental Science and Sustainability and Community and Justice Studies at Allegheny College.  London’s focus of study demonstrates that strong connection between social and environmental justice.  In FY22, London was a zero-hunger intern with the Congressional Hunger Center. London worked tirelessly to revive Allegheny’s chapter of the Food Recovery NetworkThey have worked to build solidarity on campus to fight against food insecurity and to fight food waste and food insecurity by recovering and redistributing unused food from the Allegheny College dining hall to the community where it is needed.

Rachel Helt has been instrumental in raising awareness of environmental issues on the Lebanon Valley College campus.  Rachel reenergized the Climate Club, organized a campus climate strike, created a green guide for Lebanon Valley Conservancy to reduce residential food waste, and more.  Rachel has a particular interest in wetland conservation and has researched diamondback terrapins at the Wetlands Institute.  She has also done research on the impact of road salt on Wetland plants.

Julia Kreuzer is a student Sustainability leader at Franklin and Marshall College.  She led F&M’s Outdoor orientation program and was a member of F&M’s Center for Sustainable Environment Work Team. At F&M, Julia researched aquatic ecological communities and water composition in glacially fed Canadian alpine lakes throughout Banff and Yoho National Parks – with a focus on ecosystem resilience and climate change as a driver in ecosystem change.

Reece Pauling is a double major in Critical Black Studies and Environmental Studies at Bucknell University. She is passionate about tackling monumental challenges, including those associated with sustainability and health, by bringing diverse voices and perspectives into the conversation. Reese clearly blends social justice and environmental activism in a unique and powerful way. She is currently studying Wildlife and Human Dimensions of Conservation in East Africa, and also the environmental impact of mass incarceration.  Notably, Reese established a garden at a prison, with the flowers grown donated to proximate retirement homes.

Non-Student Accomplishment Summaries

Matt Betherum worked with Allegheny College students to develop a climate assessment for Meadville, Pa., the town where Allegheny is located.  He Co-authored the Climate Action Plan that was adopted by Meadville.  Matt sits on the Meadville Environmental Advisory Committee and is responsible for implementing the Climate Action Plan.  Matt’s efforts have important benefits for equity and social justice issues in Meadville Community, such as focusing on risks associated with Climate Change that have an imbalanced impact on Meadville’s most vulnerable populations.  Matt has involved students in all of these efforts and he has designed courses around research projects focused on assessing climate risks and improving walking and biking infrastructure.

Allyssa Decker has only been at Dickinson College for three years, but has already made a large impact on both academics and operations with her Green Infrastructure course and her overall knowledge. Students love her Green Infrastructure course and Allyssa’s classes are frequently seen out on campus doing surveys and assessments of the campus buildings and grounds.  Allyssa’s courses provide periodic discussions of  the Sustainable Development Goals and her students are tasked with making connections between lecture material and the SDGs.  Alyssa’s students are also tasked with proposing new solutions for existing stormwater issues and concerns that face the college and the greater Carlisle community – using the campus as a field study location and providing meaningful and useful solutions for consideration.  Allyssa is a member of the college’s new Climate Resilience Committee, where her knowledge of green infrastructure and stormwater interventions will be invaluable. She established a green roof on Tome Hall on campus which she manages, along with her students, and incorporates into her classes.

Mahsa Kazempor is Chair of the Campus Sustainability Council at Penn State Berks.  She has a passion for engaging students, faculty, staff and the broader community  to increase environmental awareness and nurture climate action opportunities. Mahsa developed an environmental science course to include an engaged scholarship component that paired students with local and global partners to explore environmental issues and developed projects to address them – taking action!  Mahsa kindled the creation of the Green Team at Penn State Berks in 2015 to spur awareness and engagement of environmental issues. This group evolved into a sustainability council  that organizes film screenings and discussions  which are open to the Berks community.  Mahsa worked to develop campus garden plots to address topics such as food insecurity, biodiversity, water stewardship, food waste and more – not to mention providing access to good healthy food.

Jennifer Nell worked with Franklin and Marshall’s sustainability department to facilitate guided hikes, conservancy clean-ups and re-use campaigns – such as collecting and donating useful items left behind by students at the end of the year.  She worked to remove invasive species on F&M’s property off-campus. She organizes volunteer opportunities for the F&M community with outside organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity.  Jennifer is instrumental in spreading and integrating the ethos of sustainability far and wide at F&M, into the ‘further reaches of campus life’.

Maggie McConnell is deeply commitment to both environmental and  social justice. As an undergraduate student at Bucknell, she led a 19-person community task force to draft a Climate Action Plan for Lewisburg Borough.  In her current role, Maggie is building capacity for implementing the city of Shamokin’s recently adopted Environmental Resiliency Plan.  Associated projects include implementing renewable energy projects and expanding safe, accessible, and affordable transportation options.  She launched a high school animation competition for environmental awareness and has created a local Foraging Friends group, focused on edible plants.

Dr. Jennifer Pomeroy has been championing sustainability at York College since 2015.  Some examples of this:  She teaches a sustainability-oriented GIS class; chairs the colleges President’s Sustainability Task Force; was instrumental in creating the Campus Sustainability Coordinator position; advanced electric vehicles adoption on campus -- including the installation of EV charging stations. Jennifer helped to establish three sustainability majors on campus and spearheaded efforts to ascertain York’s carbon footprint.

PERC - Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium

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