STATERs encourage Penn Staters to go green and keep campus clean

University Park, Pa. -- It's not hard to find members of STATERs -- a new campus-recognized student recycling organization -- in a crowd of thousands who are tailgating at a Penn State football home game. Wearing matching fluorescent green shirts and carrying big blue bags with the universal recycling symbol around a Nittany Lion's head, STATERs are already well known in the grassy fields where football fans congregate.

"Tailgaters know we're coming and they love to see us," said Carolyn Moore, vice president of STATERs: Students Taking Action to Encourage Recycling. "They ask for their blue bags and do a good job using them and keeping trash out."

Since 1995, different volunteer groups have been sifting through waste left behind in the stadium, collecting recyclables. In 2005, when Moore, a junior information sciences and technology major from Phoenixville, Pa., her older sister Brittany and their friends started handing out the bags to collect aluminum cans and glass bottles, it took Beaver Stadium recycling to a whole new level.

According to Al Matyasovsky, supervisor of Central Support Services in the Office of Physical Plant and adviser to STATERs, passing out the bags -- an idea he got from the University of Missouri -- meant 87 tons of recyclables were collected just last season. The money raised by reprocessing these items goes to the Centre County United Way. The 2007 football season raised more than $8,000. In fact, charitable donations from recycling efforts on the Penn State University Park campus have passed the half-million-dollar mark, Matyasovsky said.

"Penn State students should be very proud," said Matyasovsky. "They have been able to manage tons of waste by recycling it instead of sending it all to a landfill."

While recycling at the stadium isn't a new concept, STATERs is one of the most recent organizations recognized at University Park. In March the group received its club status.

"We wanted to be able to recruit more people," explained Cammy Brown, a junior chemical engineering major from Spring Mills, Pa., and the group's treasurer. "We decided the more people we got, the more we could do on campus throughout the year. Having the club status means we can recruit members at the involvement fair in the fall and through our own Web site."

Cassie Niebel, president of the club and a junior mechanical engineering major from State College, said she started working with the recycling effort to help out Moore, her good friend, but stayed on and became president because she thinks it's an important program and hopes to see it grow once it's well established.

"We are hoping to expand and help with the Four Diamonds Fund recycling effort during THON (believed to be the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, with all proceeds benefitting the Four Diamonds Fund, Conquering Childhood Cancer) lend a hand at Trash to Treasure (where items donated by students at the end of the spring semester are sold to the community and all proceeds are given to the Centre County United Way) and collect recyclables at other major events on campus like the Special Olympics," Niebel said.

While committing themselves to work every Saturday that there's a home game seems like a lot of responsibility, the officers of STATERs said it's worth the effort and a lot of fun.

"You get to be out among the tailgaters, walking around, meeting new people," said STATERs secretary Amy Gilbert, a junior electrical engineering major from Johnstown, Pa. "It's a great networking tool, especially if you're a social person. Even if you're not, it's a good way to branch out and meet new people."

Gilbert said about 15 to 30 students volunteer for each game, which is about a two-hour time commitment. All four officers of the club said it's a great way to volunteer because it still allows them to go the games and they always have a good time handing out the bags. And once in a while, they noted, tailgaters give them food.

Students interested in becoming a member of STATERs should e-mail Cassie Niebel at cln151@psu.edu.
 

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Last Updated November 18, 2010