UMass Amherst Student Inspired by ‘Green Campus’ and Sustainability Activities Wins National Award

AMHERST, Mass. - Inspired by her three years devoted to sustainability activities and "greening the campus" at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, recent graduate Rachel Dutton of Burlington won first prize and $500 in a national writing contest, as announced recently by the National Association of College Auxiliary Services’ (NACAS).

Her 1,500-word essay, "How Auxiliary Services Has Influenced My College Experience," will appear in the spring issue of NACAS’s quarterly magazine, College Services.

As a sophomore, Dutton was a driving force behind the campus dining program’s successful effort to eliminate trays, which she says saves water, energy and about 30 percent food waste per student. From there, she went on to work with the program’s sustainability committee, contributing to policy recommendations for food operations.

In her last two years as an undergraduate, Dutton was active on the UMass Permaculture Committee, a student-led group best known for creating a quarter-acre garden outside Franklin Dining Commons begun in 2010 that provides hands-on learning opportunities in sustainable land use for students along with fresh nuts, berries, vegetables, greens and flowers in season for campus diners.

Most recently, after earning a degree in environmental science in December, Dutton won a place as a recent hire on the campus’ sustainability team. Ken Toong, executive director of UMass Amherst’s award-winning Auxiliary Enterprises, says he is delighted that she will stay on as a sustainability coordinator. "We are so proud of Rachel’s accomplishment and are so fortunate to have her as an employee," he notes.

For her contest entry, Dutton says she welcomed the opportunity to "really reflect on my time here and how grateful I am to UMass Amherst Dining and Auxiliary Enterprises for the opportunities I’ve had to work with them. These experiences have been perhaps the most defining of my time here. I feel really proud to work with a group that I can confidently stand behind and support for its dedication to sustainability, supporting local businesses and especially for the willingness to work closely with and listen to students."