Sustainability Stewards Celebrate 10 Years

The Sustainability Stewards at NC State University are celebrating 10 years of impactful action. 

Established in spring 2013 with six students, this sustainability-focused student leadership program engages students in promoting sustainable practices through peer education, workshops, presentations, projects and campus events.

Since the launch of the Stewards program, more than 130 students have participated and been instrumental in cultivating a culture of sustainability at NC State.

Sustainability Stewards, April 2013

“The Stewards program empowers students as leaders in campus sustainability. They work together to create and achieve their goals and leave a legacy of impact on campus and each other,” said Carla Davis, director of the University Sustainability Office, which coordinates the Stewards program. 

That’s echoed by one of the founding members of the Stewards, Brian Iezzi, whose four years in the Stewards helped shape some of the projects he works on today as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Michigan.

“Personally, the [Stewards] program taught me so much about myself and how important it is to interact with people to drive sustainable change,” Iezzi said. “I can’t imagine what undergrad would have been like without the Stewards.”

For many Stewards, the program provided practical experience that shaped their future career paths. 

Stewards Ameilia Fujikawa and Brian Iezzi
in front of their Hodge Podge Lodge at the
2015 Shack-A-Thon.

“As a member of the Stewards Energy Group, I had my first experiences with solar energy implementing small-scale solar PV installations [on campus]. This had a strong influence on my choice of research area in graduate school,” said Sofia Taylor, a 2020 graduate who is now a Ph.D. student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison researching the environmental and social context surrounding the electrical grid.

Over the last decade, the Sustainability Stewards have implemented a wide range of activities and projects in their mission to promote sustainability on campus and beyond. 

“The Sustainability Stewards was one of the best experiences I had while at NC State,” said Sarah Coull, a 2022 graduate now working as an environmental engineer for the US Environmental Protection Agency in Seattle, Washington. “It provided me a space to not only explore my interests in sustainability but to also learn how to interact with the community and develop projects with impact.” 

Projects led by the Stewards include:

  • Developing and installing outdoor solar umbrellas to charge electronics near Tucker Hall, as well as the design and construction of an outdoor SolarSpace for studying near Gardner Arboretum.
  • Launching multiple efforts within campus residence halls, including facilitating the annual Energy and Water Competition conservation challenge, installing shower timers to encourage students to be mindful of their water usage, and expanding education and composting access to residence halls and apartments.
  • Helping to permanently remove plastic bags from several C-Stores on campus and initiating a plastic bag recycling program which led to a permanent plastic film collection program managed by NC State Waste Reduction and Recycling.
  • Planning and planting multiple campus green spaces to connect students with nature and pollinator-friendly or edible plants. 
  • Countless outreach programs and events, including writing a Food Justice cookbook and sponsoring cooking demonstrations, hosting Campus Thrift Store pop-up events to offer sustainable alternatives to purchasing new clothing, launching an Environmental Justice Symposium and Sustainability is for Everyone workshop series, and much more.
Stewards David Walser and Sarah Coull host Fall 2019 workshops of Sustainability is for Everyone.

The program’s impact has been recognized with an NC State Sustainability Award (2016), campus LEAD Awards (2016-2017), and a City of Raleigh Environmental Award (2016). 

Throughout these student-led programs and projects, the Stewards gained important professional experience.

“As a Steward I learned a very valuable lesson that if we work together, but divide and conquer, we can get more done.  That is one thing I incorporate into my everyday work,” said Diego Cancel, a 2016 graduate who now works for the National Environmental Education Foundation. 

Equally as impactful as Steward programs and projects have been the difference made in the Stewards themselves, according to Amelia Fujikawa, a 2016 graduate now pursuing a master’s degree in sustainable development in the Netherlands.

“From providing me with project management experience, giving me access to a lifelong network of sustainability leaders, and allowing me to grow as a mentor and leader, my time as a Steward was one of the best things I could have done for myself in college,” she said.

Where Are They Now? Meet Former Sustainability Stewards 

A 10 Year Reunion Social is on April 27, 2023 for current and former Sustainability Stewards and campus stakeholders who have supported the program. RSVP

Applications to join the Stewards are accepted in the fall semester for incoming students and in the spring semester for all students. Learn more at