We believe young people have incredible power to make change. Re:wild Your Campus provides students with tools to work with groundskeepers, develop campaign strategies, and provide alternatives in order to transition their campuses to organic land maintenance and ultimately re-wild and revolutionize landcare and create safer spaces for all.
We’ve found that synthetic herbicides are predominantly used for aesthetic purposes on college campuses. These institutions are opting for chemicals that are linked to human health issues rather than exploring organic options that are safer for the grounds crew members, students, faculty, and other community members. Using synthetic herbicides to eradicate weeds for aesthetic purposes is neglectful – prioritizing landscapes which require such inputs threatens the health of community members and the health of our planet.
Our remote, paid student fellowship follows the traditional academic calendar, running this year from August 2022 to May 2023. Applications for this year are now closed, but will open again in the Spring of 2023. The fellowship supports student activists as they seek to make change on their campus through an elimination of synthetic herbicides and a transition to organic land management. Upon entering the fellowship, students are provided with resources, live training, and one-on-one coaching sessions to build and maintain their on-campus campaign. Through our innovative fellowship, students gain valuable skills that can be applied to future environmental, social, and political activism efforts.
Campuses Participating in 2022/2023 Re:wild Your Campus Fellowship
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
University of Central Florida
University of Wisconsin Madison
Loyola University New Orleans Law School
California State University Long Beach
University of Michigan
University of Hawaii Maui College
Campuses that Graduated from the 2021 Fellowship
Loyola Marymount University
Indiana University Bloomington
Sarah Lawrence College
Mackenzie Feldman and Bridget Gustason co-founded what started out as Herbicide-Free Cal at University of California, Berkeley in 2017. They showed up for beach volleyball practice one day to their coaches' cautions: If the ball rolled off the court, they were not to chase it as the groundskeepers had sprayed an herbicide on the surrounding area. Bridget and Mackenzie were shocked at the potential public and environmental health risks posed by the spraying of what they found out to be glyphosate-based products. This was two years before the Johnson v. Monsanto ruling, but one year after the World Health Organization had ruled that glyphosate was a probable human carcinogen. They asked the Supervisor of Athletics Fields & Turf to end spraying by the courts, and in return, the team would pick the surrounding weeds. Since that day, Bridget and Mackenzie have made lasting, institutional change. The campaign spread across campus, and now UC Berkeley is 95% organic.
Mackenzie and Bridget were inspired to expand the campaign in 2019 by Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, a groundskeeper who sued Monsanto after developing cancer from spraying their glyphosate-based herbicide. They decided that they needed to take this beyond UC Berkeley, and they launched Herbicide-Free Campus, to first inspire the entire UC system, and then campuses across the country, to rethink reliance on toxic herbicides in campus management. The campaign has now spread coast to coast, driven by Student Fellows who receive financial support and training from HFC’s seven staff members. Herbicide Free Campus will continue to empower students until toxic herbicides are eliminated from every school in the country.
Herbicide use intersects with many of the issues that we all care about including (but not limited to) human health, biodiversity, climate change, environmental justice, reproductive health, clean water, food sovereignty, workers rights and more.
Although synthetic pesticide use is most commonly seen as solely an environmental issue, we recognize the extensive intersection points of racial justice, food systems, public health, economics, and soil health as being equally important to the environmental implications of pesticide use. These chemicals threaten our world’s food supply, reducing the pollinator populations that crops depend on. The application of synthetic chemicals significantly degrades ecosystem health and this damage limits the capacity of our environment to provide us with proper nourishment. Herbicide usage, therefore, intersects with our daily life on both a micro and macro scale, from contributing to the produce available at the grocery store to the greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere.
Your contribution to Re:wild Your Campus supports the vision of a toxin-free world created by student action. You are empowering the next generation of environmental leaders to create safer, more sustainable living and learning environments for all as they advocate for organic land care on their campuses and beyond. Thank you for joining the movement and recognizing the power of youth voices rising – we are so grateful!
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