Forward-thinking. Mindful. She’s “green,” and she’s creating opportunities for others to be too.
Kennedy Warner ’21 has a passion to make the world a more “green” and environmentally friendly place. She has been actively working on initiatives that support this mission at Graceland since her arrival and is a fervent member of the Sustainability Program.
Kennedy, a sophomore biology major, has poured her passion into several sustainability projects at Graceland. She has worked closely with the new Campus Kitchen project, a $5,000 grant to address issues of hunger and food waste on campus and in the Lamoni community. She has worked to minimize the use of plastic straws and Styrofoam, and has even worked toward a goal that would make Graceland an entirely plastic-free campus.
Kennedy chooses each day to be an encouraging voice to other students and the entire Graceland community as she attempts to make people more aware of actions that contribute to the waste they dispose of. She believes that improved awareness will inspire people to make individual and intentional decisions that improve the way Graceland as a whole helps the environment through the everyday actions of students, faculty, staff and even visitors.
“I make advertisements and stickers to make people aware of their own personal environmental impact. For example, putting up stickers on paper towel dispensers that remind people to only take one or two to cut down on paper use,” explained Kennedy. “These changes will hopefully influence positivity and mindfulness about the environment and will really challenge people to be more conscious of their decisions.”
“The community here has encouraged me to take action just because of the people I see working to make Graceland a better university. I was inspired to take something I’m passionate about and make positive effects here on campus.”
Even before Kennedy came to Graceland, she began to understand the importance of such work. She joined the environmental club in her high school and started learning more about climate change, the environment and ocean conservation.
With an acknowledged interest in these issues as a Graceland student, Sustainability Coordinator Jen Abraham-White invited Kennedy to join the Sustainability Program and has offered a platform for her to promote her passion.
Abraham-White advises Kennedy as a member of a team of six student-workers who are devoted to making and keeping Graceland’s campus eco-friendly and identifying opportunities for improvement. She is impressed with the team as a whole and their dedication to issues larger than themselves, and she shared how Kennedy stands out.
“She’s been great. Super motivated, completely reliable … She’s ahead of the game in communication and leadership skills. She’s very kind, and I look forward to working with her even more in the future,” said Abraham-White. “By working on these projects, Kennedy and the entire team show a mature understanding of the care of things outside of themselves.”
Kennedy is just getting started with the Sustainability Program at Graceland, and she has already used her involvement in the program to enhance her own environmental efforts. She will speak this spring at Graceland’s fourth annual Food Symposium, an event that brings together a diversity of voices that address economic, social and environmental issues as they relate to food systems, and, as she continues her education, she will work more closely with the Campus Kitchen project in an attempt to help the effort evolve and grow.
After graduation in 2021, Kennedy hopes to one day become an anesthesiologist but has every intention to continue her efforts to better the world through her everyday actions.
GRACELAND’S SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAM aims to practice and teach restorative relationships between humanity and the ecosystems from which we draw resources for our livelihoods — especially within the context of local communities.