Penn State DuBois helps create sustainable future for students, community

Penn State DuBois, nestled in Clearfield County, is one the many Commonwealth Campuses putting an emphasis on sustainability. From offering the minor in sustainability leadership to students reaching out to the community, the campus is working hard to incorporate sustainability into everyone’s lives.

Minor in Sustainability Leadership

Starting this fall at DuBois, the minor in sustainability leadership is now an option for students in any four-year major to incorporate sustainability as a significant theme in their undergraduate degree program. Through a combination of coursework and immersive experiences in sustainability, students develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to become sustainability leaders in their respective fields. Currently, only four campuses have SUST 200: University Park, DuBois, Abington and Erie.

"The sustainable use of resources is perhaps the greatest challenge facing us at the local, national and international scales," said Penn State DuBois associate professor of geography Debra Straussfogel, who worked to develop the minor for the campus. "Learning how to manage and use resources with a look to long-term sustainability will take broad based knowledge as well as leadership and problem-solving skills. Any sustainable solution to a resource problem must follow the three part goal of being economically viable and socially acceptable as well as being environmentally sound."

The ability to achieve that three-part goal, Straussfogel explained, makes education in sustainability appealing, if not necessary, in today's world and in the workforce of tomorrow. Not only will individuals with training in sustainability have the know-how to work toward the conservation of natural resources, but they'll also be positioned to help their employers operate at maximum efficiency.

"The minor in sustainability leadership gives students with an interest in any baccalaureate degree the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills relevant to their field of study and applicable to sustainability-related problems in their target job areas."
       -- Associate professor of geography Debra Straussfogel

"The minor in sustainability leadership gives students with an interest in any baccalaureate degree the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills relevant to their field of study and applicable to sustainability related problems in their target job areas," Straussfogel said. "Whether a student is interested in business, earth science, engineering, human development, information science and technology, liberal arts and sciences, or any Penn State four-year degree, this minor will provide an additional opportunity to become uniquely qualified to become leaders in their fields."

Penn State DuBois Community Outreach Day

As part of New Student Orientation, nearly 200 freshmen, and faculty and staff group leaders participated in the Penn State DuBois Community Outreach Day. Students were broken up into teams and were led by a campus faculty or staff member, serving as an orientation leader. In all, the groups visited more than a dozen charitable and community-centered organizations. They performed landscaping, cleaning, litter pick-up, and other duties in order to give back to their local communities around DuBois, Clearfield, Falls Creek and beyond.

Sites visited included Bilger's Rocks in Grampian, Goodwill Industries in Falls Creek, Gateway Humane Society in Falls Creek, Big Brothers Big Sisters in Clearfield, Central PA Community Action in Clearfield, Downtown DuBois Revitalization, the DuBois Historical Society, DuBois Nursing Home, the Freed Medical Clinic in DuBois, Paint and Play of DuBois, Rumbarger Cemetery in DuBois, Adopt-A-Highway on Route 219 near DuBois, the Reitz Theater in DuBois, the Bucktail Council of the Boy Scouts of America in DuBois and the Tri County Church in DuBois.

At Goodwill Industries in Falls Creek, students worked on landscaping around the warehouse where donations are processed before being sent to Goodwill stores. Tom Glasl, Goodwill's chief financial officer, said the students where a great help, and exemplified the very mission of his organization. "Community service is at the core of our business, without community service, Goodwill would not exist in DuBois," he said.  "Having the Penn State students here is the kind of thing we need for the younger generations to learn about Goodwill and maybe become future donors. It's also a great chance for them to learn about service."

Glasl said what students learn about service by participating in outreach activities such as this are lessons that will stick with them. He said, "Working with any nonprofit, it's just invaluable to the kids. I think every college should do this and start their year off with some community service work."

First-year student Molly Stoltz, of DuBois, said that she not only felt good about helping a community organization, but working alongside her new classmates allowed her the chance to develop new relationships. "I think it's a really good idea to do this. We're working together. It helps us get to know each other and get to know people around the community," said Stoltz. "If every university did this, you would have tons of good stuff going on around the country.

"If every university did this, you would have tons of good stuff going on around the country."
                                          -- First-year student Molly Stoltz.

Penn State DuBois assistant director of Student Affairs Marly Doty said she was happy to hear how students and organizational representatives, such as Glasl, felt about Community Outreach Day. She said instilling in students a passion for service, early on, can add meaning and value to their education, and even to their future careers.

"It's important that students engage in community service right off the bat. It teaches them about social responsibility and places where they can get involved," Doty said. "That blossoms into future projects, community service trips and even jobs. They're making connections, meeting people and giving back. It increases their odds for success and builds a stronger community all at the same time."

Learn more about the minor in sustainability leadership online. Interested in other happenings at Penn State DuBois? Visit their site for news, courses and more. For more information about sustainability at Penn State, visit

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Last Updated September 09, 2013