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The Office of Sustainability held its annual Environmental Leadership Awards on Wednesday, April 24, to recognize students, faculty, staff, and community members who demonstrate exceptional environmental leadership in their everyday lives.

The awards stem from the Committee on the Campus Environment, managed and funded by the Office of Sustainability as one of the annual Earth Month events.

Group photo of Environmental Leadership Award winners

The first four awards are for students who excel in the classroom and extracurricular activities and inspire their peers to live more sustainability.

  • The Student Academic Award was given to Kyra Jones, a senior sustainability and political science major from Arlington, Tennessee, for her academic work on food insecurity and, specifically, some of its underlying causes and ways to alleviate it.
  • The Student Engagement Award went to Emma Heins and Payton Myers. Heins, a junior environmental studies major from Fort Mill, South Carolina, is involved with several committees on campus, writes an environmental column for the Daily Beacon, and helped write the Remove all Foam and Straws bill passed through the Student Government Association last semester. Myers, a junior studying sustainability and business analytics from Fayetteville, Arkansas, was awarded for her work promoting sustainability engagement through her research assistantship with Sustainability Accounting Standards, as a former intern with the Office of Sustainability, and her outreach work with SPEAK, the Grow Lab, and Bee Campus. She also serves as the environmental chair for the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity, a position she helped create.
  • Jaden Hodges, a junior sustainability major from Knoxville, was awarded the Most Likely to Save the Planet Award for her work as resident assistant in Hess Hall. She has spearheaded multiple sustainability-related programs that teach residents about small changes they can make in their lives to promote sustainability.
  • The business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi received the Student Organization Award. The group has worked toward decreasing waste at their events by beginning to compost, recycle, and choosing reusable decorations.

The following two awards were given to employees who demonstrate environmental leadership that goes above and beyond their job responsibilities.

  • Jon Hathaway, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, received the Faculty Award for his previous work with the Green Fee and the dedication he shows to students in bringing them into his work, which focuses on water resources engineering.
  • The Staff Award was given to Stephanie Langley, a staff member in First-Year Studies, for helping make her department’s events more environmentally friendly. She worked with UT Recycling to ensure events are zero waste and is mindful of reducing waste even when choosing departmental giveaways.

The John Nolt Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Joanne Logan, associate professor of biosystems engineering and soil science, for more than 30 years of service to campus. Logan has been a faculty leader in promoting sustainability for decades. She has led Alternative Break trips and is active with student groups and committees, the Grow Lab, and was instrumental in developing the sustainability major offered through the Department of Geography.

The Community Award, recognizing invaluable impact on the Knoxville community, went to Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero. Under her leadership, an Energy and Sustainability Taskforce was established, and the Energy and Sustainability Initiative was created. City operations are now more sustainable and environmentally friendly, having less impact on the environment while also saving money.

Chancellor Wayne T. Davis presented the inaugural Special Recognition Award to Facilities Services and Parking and Transit for their work to replace lighting in eight of UT’s parking garages with energy-efficient LED lighting. The innovative and unique manner in which this project was financed and executed certainly is expected to pay dividends for years to come.


Brian Canever (865-974-0937,

Carolyn Brown (865-974-7386,