Indiana State University Newsroom

Terre Haute Sustainability Championship 2014 winners recognized

November 26, 2014

From Trayless Tuesdays to planting school-wide vegetable gardens and offering Indiana State University students the opportunity to donate unwanted goods at the end of each semester, Terre Haute youth have limitless ideas about how to make a sustainable environment.

Their ideas were unveiled at the ceremony marking the conclusion of a poster competition that kicked off in October to encourage students in kindergarten through college to embrace sustainable initiatives. The competition was a collaborative effort by the Center for Supply Management Research at the Scott College of Business, Indiana State's Institute for Community Sustainability, and India Association of Terre Haute.

Indiana State's ranking as one of the top universities in the nation for community service was the motivation behind the winning college-level team's idea to ask for clothing donation bins for students to use during move-out weeks.

"ISU provides dumpsters outside of each residence hall for students to throw away papers, food or clothes as they're moving out. What we want to do is have those clothes donated," said Indiana State student Mikayla Morrison, whose team needed to create a business plan for an idea that would make campus more sustainable. "We're proposing that ISU provide donation bins for each of the residence halls and Goodwill will pick them up for free. How we evaluated our project was with a triple bottom-line concept, looking at the economic, social and environmental impact of the idea.

"Good will was chosen because with every donation, 80 to 90 cents is put in the community. There's an environmental impact as well, as cotton can sit in landfills for five months and leather and nylon can stay there for 40 years," Morrison said, adding that the goal would be for each student to donate at least one item in the first year and multiply each year.

Students were divided into grade level categories and posed a sustainability-related question to answer through a poster presentation.

"I learned that our food comes from the grounds, so we shouldn't litter," said Lost Creek Elementary first-grader Malachi English, 6, whose grade-level was tasked with explaining where food comes from.

"It was a great project for him to learn about animals and how food gets to our dinner table," said English's mother, Deborah.

For JJ Faught, a student at Terre Haute South Vigo High School, the idea of building a vegetable garden has taken on new meaning, after he was asked for the project to think about how it would benefit schools.

"There are benefits like getting youth outside, instead of staying inside and using technology," he said. "It's a way to change a student's life, by encouraging responsibility and building motivation."

A panel of judges narrowed the 165-plus poster submissions down to the top three winners in each category, who were recognized with plaques handed out by Mayor Duke Bennett.

"I think what strikes me the most is that the best chance we have to change the way society is today is with this generation," Bennett said. "Some older people are a little more stuck in their ways and may not adapt and make the changes that are needed to be made to be more sustainable, but this group of youth, kindergarten all the way to juniors and seniors in college, are our opportunity to really make a difference."

The presentations from the top three winners at each level as well as the business student teams were judged at the event by a panel of three judges - Jeff Harper, executive director of graduate programs for the Scott College of Business; Paul Schikora, chair of the marketing and operations department; and Dennis Evers, chief technology officer and inventor at Meridian Biotech.

The event was sponsored by the Center for Community Engagement, Vectren Foundation, Lucky Reddy, and A+ Printers. After witnessing the ideas Terre Haute youth produced, Kuntal Bhattacharyya, director of the Center for Supply Managent Research and assistant professor of operations and supply chain management, said the future of sustainability efforts in Terre Haute is in good hands.

"I had the opportunity to hear from several of the parents about how much of a blessing it was to work with their children on this project, and that's what we were looking for," he said. "It wasn't about doing something for a grade or getting an extra point. It was about doing something that each one of us - not just the students but also the parents and teachers - believe in and want to make a difference."

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or

Contact: Kuntal Bhattacharyya, director of the Center for Supply Management Research and assistant professor of operations and supply chain management,