Big Ten’s Eco Efforts: University of Nebraska

In the spirit of our “Green Gridirons” series (but just in case college football wasn’t your thing), the “Big Ten’s Eco Efforts” series highlights creative off-the-field sustainability efforts. Nebraska is the only state in the country that recognizes the last Friday in April as a civic holiday known as Arbor Day. Every year, businesses across the “The Tree Planter State” close down to allow folks to do just that—plant trees. The campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has been marking the holiday for 40 years with a tree planting ceremony on campus where hundreds of trees are planted by students and faculty. The ceremony is part of Focus Nebraska, a week-long event that promotes environmental sustainability, awareness, engagement and activism, said Richard Sutton, professor of agronomy, horticulture and landscape architecture.

Big Ten’s Eco Efforts: University of Wisconsin

In the spirit of our “Green Gridirons” series (but just in case college football wasn’t your thing), the “Big Ten’s Eco Efforts” series highlights creative off-the-field sustainability efforts at Big Ten universities. The F.H. King organic farm at the University of Wisconsin has been growing produce for students to veg out on since 1979. The urban garden is the pride of the sustainability of agriculture program at the Madison campus. Not only does the farm donate to the school’s cafeterias to support late night food runs, but it also donates 500 pounds of produce every year to area food banks, said Meredith Keller, student programs coordinator at the university’s office of sustainability. “Our members participate in all aspects of managing a garden and either sell or hand out fruits and vegetables at locations on campus,” Keller said.

Green Gridirons: University of Nebraska

A football stadium may have green grass but does it have green habits? Each week, Great Lakes Echo highlights a Big Ten football stadium’s attempts to do the most to impact the environment the least. All schools have information on the stadium’s diversion rate – the amount of waste recycled instead of put in a landfill. Stadium: Memorial Stadium

School: University of Nebraska

Built: 1923

Capacity: 81,091

2012 diversion Rate: 95 percent

Scouting report: The school’s athletic department began partnering with Recycling Enterprises of Nebraska during the 2008 season to max out recycling.  Recycling bins for paper and plastic are placed near all trash receptacles, said Richard Sutton, professor of Agronomy and Horticulture. The athletic department also asks fans to pick up the surrounding area of their seats during and after games.

Green Gridirons: University of Wisconsin

A football stadium may have green grass but does it have green habits? Each week, Great Lakes Echo highlights a Big Ten football stadium’s attempts to do the most to impact the environment the least. All schools have information on the stadium’s diversion rate – the amount of waste recycled instead of put in a landfill. Stadium: Camp Randall Stadium

School: University of Wisconsin

Built: 1917

Capacity: 80,321

2012 diversion rate: 33 percent

Scouting report: Each game day, community and student volunteers create awareness about the importance of conservation efforts at the university like recycling and compost bins, said Meredith Keller, student programs coordinator at the university’s office of sustainability. The stadium saw a significant increase in diversion rate from 3 percent at the start of the season to 33 percent during the last game, said Keller.

Invasive gobies staking out new territory

An uninvited outsider is rapidly showing up in new freshwater territory in Wisconsin—and a recent scientific study indicates the increasing impact of the small fish.  Researchers at the University of Wisconsin Center for Limnology found the invasive round goby has increased 10-fold in some of the state’s lakes and rivers. In addition to the Great Lakes, the fish are now showing up in 175 miles of inland streams, according to Matthew Kornis, doctoral candidate at the Center for Limnology. Like many of the known invasive species inhibiting the Great Lakes, the round goby arrived by an ocean-bound ship and was first seen in the Saint Clair River in 1990. “The study,” Kornis says, “raises significant concern of negative effects round gobies will have or already have on Great Lakes tributaries.”

Researchers found a related dramatic decline in native fish in places where gobies thrive.