June 26, 2020
Student-athletes have been instrumental in building sustainability efforts within the athletics department. Many have taken it upon themselves to reach out to their coaches after seeing other athletics programs hosting zero waste events. Not only are these individuals extremely passionate, but they see the larger impact that sustainability can have on the Earth for years to come.
For example, after years of hosting zero waste events, the Ohio State synchronized swimming program wanted to expand on their efforts and implement climate change awareness at their Zero Waste Invitational. This inspired fencing team to do the same for the upcoming season in 2021.
Cassidy Jenney, a former student-athlete on the rowing team and a sustainability associate for the 2019-20 academic year, had the goal to create a resource for current-student athletes seeking opportunities to increase sustainability. She received her bachelor’s degree in environment, economy, development and sustainability in 2017 and continues to pursue her successful career as a sustainability professional.
"My passion for building this program came from my former experience as a student-athlete at Ohio State. I wanted to work on sustainability projects but with practice, school and work I couldn’t find the time," Jenney says. "The goal of this group is to provide student-athletes with resources to not only work on high impact projects, but also give them professional experience with sustainability."
LEAFS (Leadership of Environmental Athletes for Sustainability) is a platform that provides opportunities for student-athletes who are eager to create positive sustainable changes within their team, which in turn develops their leadership skillset for future endeavors. It is a student-led group, assisted by staff members and logistical knowledge, to help passionate individuals create real change for years to come in athletics. This opportunity also helps those involved to become marketable to employers and develop highly sought skills in sustainability fields..
The goal is to develop resources for student-athletes who are passionate about creating change. LEAFS was created to do just that, and will empower these individuals to intersect their passion for the environment with their sport.