In the two weeks Froggi Van Riper has been on campus as the new Director of Campus Sustainability Initiatives, she has started to meet with Knox faculty and students to work on various sustainability projects and work toward progress in sustainability on campus.
Van Riper believes that Knox has great potential to make strides in sustainability and excel in this realm of campus living.
“I want Knox to know that you are poised to be one of the top leading schools in sustainability,” Van Riper said. “I think that the student impetus is here. And the bottom-up approach to sustainability is the one that is going to succeed the most.”
Van Riper said that in moving towards the goal of becoming a more sustainable school, she would like Knox to act with integrity and with the three pillars of sustainability in mind.
“I want to see the campus equally address the three pillars of sustainability, which are social equity, environmental health and economic vitality . . . I’d like us to not just pick the low hanging fruit, but to actually achieve the difficult goals that will really lead us into a sustainable future.”
Specific projects that Van Riper is taking on at this point include the composting program, the bike shop, the high tunnels and changes to the recycling program. Since arriving at Knox, Van Riper has been meeting with representatives for these projects and brainstorming ideas for how to realize them.
She said of the composting program, “I’m looking to stabilize that program and make sure that we are recovering all of our organics and that we have a backup plan for when our equipment isn’t operating. So. I’ve met both with facilities and with dining services and they’ve been really cooperative in trying to search out a solution that’s going to work for the campus in that department.”
Before coming to Knox, Van Riper received her undergraduate degree from Principia College in biology and then worked in a wildlife center in North Carolina in education. She later received her master’s degree in sustainable development in Sweden. She also has worked for the city of St. Louis to develop the recycling and waste management programs for the schools in the metropolitan area and later taught high school biology.
Van Riper said that her experience at Knox so far has been encouraging and that she is always open to hearing from students who both have positive feedback as well as concerns.
“I’ve had a very positive experience my first two weeks. I have met with people from all different departments, and students from a bunch of different clubs, everybody’s been warm and welcoming and cooperative. And I feel like Knox is very unique in that students seem to play a more active role in campus politics, or I guess campus initiatives even, and I feel like the priorities here are where they should be as an educational institution,” she said.
Van Riper noted that when Knox achieves sustainable developments, the school should share their success and enable other colleges to follow our progress.
“When we realize success we should really publicize it, because part of this vision of becoming a model for other schools is to get that information out there,” she said. “When we’ve solved a problem, to show other campuses that it can be done and how it can be done. When we accomplish something, we don’t want to keep it to ourselves. When we make a sustainability stride, we want to facilitate others to do the same thing.”