State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

GrowNYC Speaks to CU Undergrads about Environmental Education Efforts

By: Deborah Sachare

Columbia University’s Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development was pleased to host Amanda Gentile, Development and Communications Manager at GrowNYC, at a brownbag in early February. Amanda talked to students about the four main components that make up GrowNYC’s mission (Teach, Recycle, Garden and Greenmarket) and also about what brought her to the organization.  In addition to establishing the famous Union Square Greenmarket, the organization hosts Morningside’s green market on Broadway every Thursday and Sunday. Students at the brownbag felt as if they personally benefit from GrowNYC’s markets and were eager to learn about other projects and how to get involved.

Prior to working at GrowNYC, Amanda was the Manager of Development and Public Affairs at the Center for Urban Environment, a New York City-based nonprofit that educates New Yorkers about the built and natural environments. Building upon her previous experience, she joined GrowNYC as an active volunteer teaching shoppers at greenmarkets how to recycle with the organization’s Office of Recycling Outreach and Education (OROE).

GrowNYC’s mission is to improve New York City’s quality of life through environmental programs that transform communities and empower all New Yorkers to secure a clean and healthy environment for future generations. The four components of its work are: Teach, Recycle, Garden and Greenmarket. GrowNYC hosts environmental education programs to promote youth participation in greenmarkets, local gardening, and recycling in schools. One of its many programs, Training Student Organizers (TSO), motivates high school and intermediate school students to organize and participate in environmental improvement projects in their neighborhoods, schools and homes. Through its “Recycle” outreach, the organization teaches city residents what and how to recycle. The “Garden” mission helps to build and sustain community gardens, school gardens, and rainwater harvesting systems across the city. One program in particular, Open Space Greening, transforms vacant land into vibrant spaces that grow food and serve as classrooms for local schoolchildren. The objective of the “Greenmarket” initiative is two-fold: to promote regional agriculture by providing small family farms the opportunity to sell their locally grown products directly to consumers, and to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to the freshest, most nutritious locally grown food the region has to offer.

All in attendance were impressed at the diversity and extent of the work that GrowNYC undertakes. The  Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development hopes to partner with the organization during the spring in a community service day.

This brownbag event was the second in a series of five scheduled luncheons that are hosted by Columbia’s Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development. The  events take place on select Fridays throughout the 2012 spring semester from 12:00PM-1:00PM in the Alumni Center located on 113th Street between Broadway and Riverside. These programs are designed for undergraduate students interested in Sustainable Development and all undergraduate and graduate students are welcome to attend.

The Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development is offered by the Earth Institute in partnership with Columbia College and the School of General Studies. Participating departments and schools of the Sustainable Development Major and Concentration include the Department of Earth and Environmental Biology; the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering; the School of International and Public Affairs and the Mailman School of Public Health.  The program allows students to gain the necessary skills they need to address the fundamental issues of sustainability.

To learn more about the program, or to register for our upcoming brownbag events, please visit our website or contact Jessica Crespo, Program Coordinator, at

Deborah Sachare is an intern for the Office of Academic and Research Programs at the Earth Institute. She is a student at Barnard College and will graduate in 2014 with a degree in Environmental Policy.

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