Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is this an internship with the EPA?
- No, this is a voluntary program that engages college students with the EPA by offering EPA resources customized for a collegiate audience. EcoAmbassadors are not employed by the EPA and are not paid.
Can I receive college credit by participating in this program?
- The OnCampus program cannot guarantee that students will receive credit for their participation. However, students are encouraged to check their campus’ requirements for service hours. Some colleges offer credits if students volunteer for a certain amount of hours per week.
Why is the EPA reaching out to college students?
- EPA’s mission is to protect human health and the environment. As part of this mission, EPA prepares and distributes numerous educational resources on various environmental and health topics. This program customizes existing EPA programs for college students and puts them in one place on the web to help students initiate similar programs on their college campuses. College students host many types of events and projects on their campuses annually – EPA resources can supplement these efforts with additional tips, information, and scientific data.
Can only one student be an ‘ecoAmbassador’ at a college campus? Or can teams of students participate?
- Both individuals and teams of students can participate. If a team of students is participating, one student must register the project and provide their contact information. All participating students will provide their names in the completion form. While an individual can successfully complete any of the activities, working in teams means you can to split up the work and collaborate. If you’re going it alone, consider choosing an activity worth one or two sustainability leaves .
What should I consider when selecting an activity to register for?
- Think about how much time you can dedicate to an activity. Refer to the number of sustainability leaves listed by the activity to gauge how long it would take. As a guideline, events usually take less time to coordinate than projects. Projects require extra research on your part to provide metrics and data to persuade your campus administrators to give their approval and support.
Consider what types of things you’re interested in. What environmental issues are you most passionate about? Browse our activities and pick an activity that catches your attention. You can also refer to the two-page resource guides (found under the “Activities” link above) for more information about which academic majors are ideal for each activity.
My campus has an Eco-Rep program which appoints students to be models of environmental behavior on campus. Does this program conflict?
- Our programs have similar missions but that doesn’t mean they conflict! Use our resources to supplement existing programs on your campus. Consider using our fact sheets and resource guides when training student environmental coordinators in residential halls. In the case of Eco-Reps, talk with the program coordinator about requiring Eco-Reps to organize at least one OnCampus event or project during their terms.
I want to get involved in EPA OnCampus ecoAmbassadors, but my campus already has a lot of sustainability initiatives and environmental clubs. What should I do?
- OnCampus resources aren’t just to start environmental activities at colleges… they can also strengthen existing initiatives. For example, if your college already purchases a certain percentage of its electricity from renewable sources, organize the Green Power Partnership Project to persuade them to increase that percentage.
Attend some club meetings and hear about what they’re already working on. Approach them about working together to use OnCampus resources for existing projects or suggest new projects. While we encourage and support individuals to pursue completing an OnCampus project by themselves, in past years students have achieved more while working in groups and with clubs.
Meet with your office of sustainability and other campus administrators who focus on sustainability initiatives. Talk about what’s already being done and how you can contribute. It may be helpful to explore options outside of your campus. For instance, in the SunWise Sun Safety Event and the Environmental Education Outreach Project you reach out to local elementary and secondary schools to educate children about the environment.
What is a school sponsor and how should I find one?
- A school sponsor is an advisor, professor, sustainability director, or any other campus employee who can support your work and confirm that you completed your event or project. To find a school sponsor, meet with various campus administrators and professors who are working on similar projects. Ask for their support and be sure to get their approval before listing them as your official school sponsor. For example, if you want to register for the Energy Star CFL Lightbulb Changeout, a building manager for a campus building could be your school sponsor.
Who should I contact at my college for assistance while planning my activity?
- Your college has many resources to help you plan activities. First, ask your school sponsor to help you identify the best person to reach out to. In some cases, your sponsor may be able to directly assist you in planning and carrying out your activity.
How can I convince my campus’ administrators to make changes?
- When working with your campus administrators, be respectful and straightforward. Administrators are busy, so be sure that you have an organized, well thought-out presentation when you meet with them.
Do your background research and be prepared for your meeting. Prepare an agenda and budget your allotted time throughout the course of the meeting. If you did research and have data to present, compile it in an easy-to-read, visually appealing format. Bring copies of your work and share it with the administrators you are meeting with.
While speaking, be confident and enthusiastic about your work. You are pursuing an excellent opportunity and your excitement about the project will help convince others.
There are environmental clubs on my campus and I’m worried that my OnCampus activities will conflict with their projects. What do I do?
- There are a few solutions to this potential conflict. First and foremost, you can approach environmental clubs to see if you can join their project or if they would like to join yours. In either case, everyone involved will receive credit for completing the activity. The OnCampus program was built for collaboration, and we highly encourage you to work with groups. Additionally, since there are many EPA OnCampus activities to choose from, there are plenty of projects to keep different clubs and groups occupied throughout the year. Remember, instituting sustainable change is a process and the more people working on it, the better!
What resources are available for me to start my activity?
- Starting your EcoAmbassador project is easy. Our website provides two-page resource guides for each available activity with a brief overview and a checklist on how to implement it. Follow the step-by-step guideline to jumpstart your initiative! Each activity’s resource guides also list relevant EPA project contacts. They’re experts in the field your working in…don’t hesitate to contact them if you have any questions. Finally, the best way to start anything on your campus is to talk to your school’s administrators. They are the fountain of knowledge- they know what’s already occurring on the campus, and what needs to happen to set things in motion.
How should I use this website and the EPA OnCampus Facebook page?
- The EPA OnCampus website and Facebook page are important parts of the OnCampus program. In addition to being the only place where you can register to participate in an OnCampus ecoAmbassador activity, the website has additional information about each activity, as well as helpful links to EPA program offices and outside sources.
The Facebook page provides you with a direct connection to other students participating in the OnCampus program, allowing you to share ideas, provide tips, and promote your successes.
How will students benefit by participating in this program?
- There are many benefits to participating in the OnCampus ecoAmbassador program. Through the process, students will learn valuable lessons about leadership, team building, diplomacy, and enacting sustainable change on their campuses. Additionally, students will build relationships with their communities and with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
What are ‘sustainability leaves’?
- Sustainability leaves are the OnCampus program’s method of measuring the difficulty of each activity. The more sustainability leaves, the harder and more time consuming the project. As OnCampus ecoAmbassadors complete activities, a tally of the sustainability leaves is kept on our website via the “sustainability challenge.”
Schools with outstanding participation in the program will have higher tallies of sustainability leaves and will be given the opportunity to meet with EPA employees.
What opportunities are there to interact with EPA scientists, policy makers, and communications staff?
- OnCampus ecoAmbassadors have the opportunity to interact with the EPA on many levels. While participating in OnCampus activities, students may reach out to program offices (with provided contact information) with activity specific questions. Additionally, students from schools that actively participate in the program and complete multiple projects will be given the opportunity to meet with EPA scientists, policy makers and communications staff in regional and national offices in the spring.
I want people to attend my event, but I’m not sure how to get students excited about it. How can I publicize my event?
- Publicizing an event is all about creativity. Make use of any resources you have available, such as listservs and community bulletin boards. To garner attention, create materials like posters and flyers and post them on campus. Use Facebook or online invitations like evite to create an event and send out invitations. Past OnCampus ecoAmbassadors have even used tactics like using food dye to paint ads in the snow, making eco-themed buttons, and bringing a pet chinchilla to the event.
What EPA materials can I use while publicizing my activity?
- Certain activities have EPA materials (pdf documents) that can be downloaded and printed by students. To find these materials, click on the “read more” link for the activity you have selected. For most activities, students are responsible for creating their own materials, though checking the program office’s website for potential ideas is recommended.
Can the EPA pay for any materials for my activities?
- No. The EPA provides all resources online for free. The OnCampus ecoAmbassador program cannot fund any additional materials or reimburse travel expenses.
What do I do if I need funding for my activity?
- We know that finding funding to support your green ideas can be a big hurdle. There are several options to explore. Past OnCampus ecoAmbassadors have obtained grants from various organizations. It’s also possible to get money from the student government at your school, or to institute a green fee that will cover costs.