MANDEVILLE, La. – Keep Louisiana Beautiful (KLB), a non-profit focused on community improvement through litter prevention, environmental education, and beautification, has graduated its first class of seven university affiliates and will open the new application cycle July 15. The KLB university affiliate program, engaging college students in environmental stewardship and sustainability practices, is now the largest and most successful program of its kind in the U.S.
The first graduating class of KLB university affiliates includes Grambling State University, Louisiana State University, Nicholls State University, Tulane University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, University of New Orleans, and Xavier University of Louisiana.
KLB is happy to expand its current network of affiliates and partners to include these universities. California has the only other collegiate program, with two universities participating.
“We couldn’t be more impressed with our first class of university affiliates,” says Cabell Mouton, Affiliate and Grant Director for KLB. “Our goal was to onboard three universities our first year, and the fact that we have seven speaks to the energy and dedication universities are directing toward sustainability, waste reduction, and litter prevention.”
The universities have been working together and exchanging ideas in monthly meetings throughout the school year. To become affiliates, the applicants were required to conduct a waste audit, litter survey and assessment, participate in Love the Boot Week, form an affiliate leadership committee, and create a work plan.
“Our partnership with Keep Louisiana Beautiful as a university affiliate is greatly valued,” says Dr. Ellen Smiley, Dean of Honors College at Grambling State University. “It helps us create and maintain a more beautiful and cleaner environment that reflects the splendor that can only be experienced in our beloved state, Louisiana.”
KLB’s university affiliate program was developed in 2021 in response to a growing interest in sustainability, waste reduction, and litter prevention at the university level. University of Louisiana at Lafayette, with Keep Louisiana Beautiful as a sub-recipient, secured a $500,000 five-year EPA Gulf of Mexico Trash-Free Waters Grant to create and launch the program, develop a litter assessment app, develop educational training videos for campus communities, and fund grant opportunities for university affiliates.
As affiliates, universities benefit from KLB staff support, access to KLB tools and resources, use of data collection processes, educational training, and membership in the KLB university sustainability coalition.* University affiliates also have the option to apply for grant programs to support sustainability practices, the reduction of single-use disposables, and litter prevention initiatives.
“The university affiliate program engages college students to think critically about non-point sources of pollution while gaining skills in ArcGIS, policy analysis, strategic planning, and community service,” says Susan Russell, Executive Director of KLB. “It’s important that we empower our future leaders and help equip them with the resources they need to take action.”
“Improving the sustainability and resiliency of our great state of Louisiana will require all stakeholders, institutions, agencies, and industries to do their part,” says Gretchen LaCombe Vanicor, Director of Sustainability at University of Louisiana at Lafayette. “Universities are in the unique position of having an education and research mission, while operating at the scale of a city, complete with dining, housing, transportation, athletic, and business administration functions.”
The new class of university affiliates will begin in the Fall of 2022. Invited to apply starting July 15 are two- and four-year colleges committed to continual improvement in sustainability and environmental issues, the promotion of student environmental stewardship and engagement, and strategic outcome measurement. More information about the affiliate application process can be found at www.keeplouisianabeautiful.org.
*University Sustainability Coalition
KLB presented the idea for a university sustainability coalition to a steering committee of university representatives working to develop the university affiliate program. KLB and the steering committee realized Louisiana’s higher education institutions lacked a forum to discuss sustainability goals and efforts. To open lines of communication and initiate a network between the state’s colleges and universities, the university sustainability coalition was established in 2021, with Dr. Jerrod Penn, Assistant Professor with the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness at LSU, as chair and KLB as the lead facilitator.
The group of 15 colleges and universities meets for eight months throughout the academic school year with one goal—to increase higher education sustainability efforts in Louisiana. Monthly meetings consist of a time of presenting and sharing program ideas, successes, and challenges related to campus sustainability. Networking and sharing has led to members replicating successful programs focused on implementing more sustainable campus dining practices and reducing waste during the student move-out process.
The university sustainability coalition includes representation from:
Dillard University, Fletcher Technical Community College, Grambling State University, Louisiana State University, Louisiana Tech, Loyola University, McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, River Parishes Community College, Tulane University, University of Louisiana Lafayette, University of Louisiana Monroe, University of New Orleans, and Xavier University of Louisiana.
Keep Louisiana Beautiful
Keep Louisiana Beautiful is the state’s anti‐litter and community improvement organization focused on education, enforcement, awareness, and cleanups. Affiliated with Keep America Beautiful, Keep Louisiana Beautiful’s mission is to promote personal, corporate, and community responsibility for a clean and beautiful Louisiana. Keep Louisiana Beautiful is comprised of a network of 40 affiliates in communities throughout the state. For more information, visit www.keeplouisianabeautiful.org.