While studying at UNH, Bailey Jones has served as a UNH Sustainability SIMAP Intern, UNH Climate Action Clinic student consultant and peer mentor.
On Sunday, October 29th, the annual AASHE (The Association for the Advancements of Sustainability and Higher Education) conference took place in Boston. This three-day conference was attended by over one thousand people and had not been held in person since 2019. The purpose of this conference is to empower higher education sustainability professionals and provide them with innovative strategies to effectively transform their institutions.
Through my work as a SIMAP intern, I was able to secure an invitation to the conference. My position as a student at the UNH Sustainability Institute meant that I was not the target audience of the conference, but the experience was very beneficial and gave me more insight into the realm of higher education sustainability.
One of my favorite experiences at the conference was attending a session called “Let’s Play Carbon Crunch” where I was able to play a board game that centered around creating a climate action plan. The game incorporated real-world obstacles to creating a climate action plan such as balancing a university’s budget for sustainability projects and managing a university’s reputation through the use or disuse of carbon offset programs. The game was a lot of fun and provided me with insight into how difficult it can be to create an effective climate action plan.
During this conference, I also made some valuable connections with individuals from many different universities.
One of my favorite connections was with a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, Isabella Cicco. We met during the first session that I attended and realized that we are quite similar since we are both graduate students in civil and environment engineering with a passion for doing sustainability work for our host university. During our first meeting, I learned that Isabella uses SIMAP in her work at the University of Pittsburgh and that she had questions about an emissions category in SIMAP which just so happened to be the focus of my work as a SIMAP intern. We are now in contact with one another so that I can help answer her questions about my work in SIMAP so she can better serve her university.
Finally, some advice that I would give to another student attending a conference like the AASHE Conference would be to plan which sessions you are going to be attending well in advance of the conference and research the presenters of those sessions. I underestimated how many different sessions were going to be offered during the AASHE Conference, so I did not give myself adequate time to explore my options beforehand. An additional piece of advice that I would give to a student who’s new to conferences would be to find a “conference buddy”. This should be a student or someone around your age who does similar work as you at their university or company. I found that having a conference buddy made it easier to feel more comfortable at the conference and helped me to get the most out of the experience. Also, if you’re lucky, you may be able to meet up with your conference buddy at future conferences and create a lasting friendship.