Cottey College

A 2014 Microgrant helps a hands-on recycling project build campus-wide environmental awareness.

Cottery College signMaria Sicay attends Cottey College in Nevada, Mo., a small liberal arts and sciences women’s college located about 100 miles south of Kansas City.

She’s a third-year student majoring in Environmental Studies and president of SAVE (Students Against a Vanishing Environment). And she’s on a mission. Maria wants to increase campus awareness of recycling.

SAVE runs the college recycling program. Each week 10-15 students drive around the campus, pick up and take the recycling bins’ contents to Nevada’s recycling center. To attend the school’s B.I.L. Hill recreation nights, students must assist at least twice in the recycling pick-ups. So there’s no shortage of woman-power.

Unfortunately plans to grow the program were on hold due to lack of funds.

Then Sarah Quick, Assistant Professor of Anthropology/Sociology heard about KCP&L’s Energizing Our Environment Microgrant program from a colleague, who read about it in her monthly bill. Sarah immediately saw its potential to expand the recycling program. So she submitted a grant request, and several weeks later, they received their grant.

Truck teamSAVE’s Microgrant will buy two large recycling bins for the Main Hall, and a smaller one for the Center for Women’s Leadership. It will also fund a campus-wide recycling contest and pay for educational materials.

“The contest will be more about quality than quantity,” explained Maria, “because our goal is to teach faculty, staff and students how to recycle and help them develop the recycling habit. For example, cans and bottles should be rinsed out before recycling.” The four-month competition will have three levels: suites, dorms and campus buildings. Prizes will be awarded after spring break.

The program is part of Maria’s life goal to introduce and expand environmental and recycling programs in her hometown on Lake Atitlán in the Guatemala highlands. “Developed countries like the United States send a lot of trash to landfills that can be recycled. I’m learning how to reach and educate people about recycling and then teach people, because it’s important to our planet’s future.” 

Watch our video to learn more about the recycling program.