Announcing the 2020 Oak Awards Winners

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The Oak Awards strive to recognize individuals and groups on campus that have made an impact on Colgate’s campus sustainability. This year we had a great group of nominees that all model sustainability across campus and beyond. The winners are incredibly motivated individuals and constantly strive to support and encourage sustainability on campus. We look forward to recognizing them in an awards ceremony next academic year.

Student Winners

Makenna Bridge ’20 & Mackenzie Gregg ’21

Makenna Bridge ’20: Mak embodies sustainability on Colgate’s campus. She is involved with the Colgate community garden and farm stand, serves as an intern for the Office of Sustainability, and completed sustainability research in 2019 through the Upstate Institute by examining pollinator conservation in the Adirondacks. She also has presented at sustainability conferences including the 2019 Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference. She is also a trainer for Colgate Outdoor Education, where she inspires her cohort of trainees to engage in sustainability in their daily lives. Mak promotes and inspires sustainability on Colgate’s campus and in the greater community.

Mackenzie Gregg ’21: Mackenzie is constantly raising awareness for Colgate’s sustainability groups, projects, and activities on campus. She is very passionate about the planet and demonstrates that passion everyday through her participation in the 13 Days of Green, Colgate’s 2nd and 3rd century plans, and her commitment to Colgate’s carbon neutrality through sustainable means. Mackenzie often tables at the COOP and leads the sustainability council for her sorority. She has also attended several national sustainability conferences. Mackenzie has an uncanny ability to capture others’ interests and provide opportunities for them to get involved. Her commitment to sustainability and friendly personality creates a welcoming and inspiring environment for budding climate enthusiasts.

Faculty Winner

Professor Peter Klepeis

Professor Klepeis is a leader in sustainability both in his personal life and in the courses he teaches. On campus, his Geography of Happiness course has provided an avenue for students of all disciplines to learn about sustainability and to integrate sustainable practices into their daily lives. Beyond campus, he has encouraged students to get involved with their local communities in a number of ways. Through teaching students how to cook and share vegan and vegetarian meals with the community, snowshoeing together as a class on the ski hill, encouraging students to meditate in Chapel House and keeping a gratitude journal, Professor Klepeis shows the value of appreciating sustainability and becoming stewards of our communities, environments, and workplaces.

Office/Department Winner

Colgate Career Services

Colgate Career Services has made great strides toward sustainability this year. They made changes to one of their largest annual events (Sophomore Connections) to reduce waste and meet Oak Event Certification Standards. Additionally, they sponsored an Eco Career Conference allowing all students to participate free of charge. Last, but not least, they organized a Leadership EQ Career Module focusing on the many aspects of sustainability leadership and emotional intelligence. Having sustainability an integral part of the CCS curriculum enriches the student experience on campus, but more importantly, empowers graduates to use this knowledge to advance sustainability throughout their careers.

Staff Winner

Jeremy Wattles

As the Director of the COVE, Jeremy has taken the lead on addressing food security concerns on Colgate's campus. His leadership has helped to improve cruiser routes, begin long term strategic planning, and act on coming up with short term solutions for students in need. He has engaged the community and local organizations including the Hamilton Food Cupboard.

Student Organization Winner

Students for Environmental Action (SEA)

SEA has been an active campus group dedicated to climate action for years, however this past academic year, they were able to mobilize the Colgate Community in a Climate Strike with demands for more action on campus. Their leadership and organization this fall will impact the decisions made on Colgate’s campus for years to come.

Research Winner

Dawn Weleski

Dawn has worked to foster networks to build resilience at Colgate and in surrounding communities during her short time at Colgate. Her work has addressed issues of food security, equity, and social justice in Central NY. Her work looks beyond Hamilton to expand reach and spread impact to the greater community.