By Karina Mazhukhina | Aug 18, 2016

After 548 days, more than 80 articles and so many environmental lectures and events I've lost track, my time with the UW Sustainability office is officially coming to a close.

Since spring 2015, I’ve been the office’s communications intern, and it’s been nothing short of incredible. I’ve gotten to work with some very dedicated sustainability folks, interview a number of environmental student groups, cover events like Earth Day (twice), the UW Sustainability Fair, DAWG Daze, and report on a variety of projects, including one of Seattle’s remaining swamps, UW students helping impovered communities both at home and abroad, UW Botanic Gardens and more.  

Although I had a science background before joining the Sustainability Office, I previously wrote for the UW Daily’s science section and the Seattle PI’s science blog, this was my first time covering environmental news. I’ve learned about Seattle and UW’s environmental history, brushed up on my knowledge of global warming, and what sort of sustainability efforts the university has implemented.

Now, as I wrap up my final days at the office, I can’t help but think of the first article I wrote for the UW Sustainability blog. Back in April of last year, I covered the Earth Day event in Red Square. I remember being surrounded by hundreds of students, seeing a variety of exhibitors, including student organizations, UW departments, and sustainable food vendors, all sharing environmental and sustainable goals. Not to mention, my own office was greeting students with smiles and encouraging them to think about their own effect on the environment. I remember feeling excited to take all that I witnessed that day and write my very first article for the blog. 

And although I’ve enjoyed writing every single article since then, there are few that I would like to highlight:

  1. Photos may be the key to saving the endangered Galapagos Penguins
  2. Poop-sniffing canines are saving endangered animals
  3. UW professor takes us through Seattle’s environmental past
  4. Why deforestation affects everyone, not just neighboring communities
  5. UW EcoCAR prepares for competition

The many perks of writing a variety of articles is getting to know the ins and outs of the UW campus. For one, I didn’t know that the Husky Union Building was not air conditioned (instead, there’s a chilled water loop system that cools spaces) or had a bowling alley downstairs made out of all repurposed wood. I didn’t know that there was a swamp called Yesler so close to the university. It was once a bustling sawmill in the 1800s, but is now home to more than a 100 species of birds and other wildlife. I was also surprised to learn that the UW has its very own observatory in Ellensburg that's undergoing sustainabliity renovations.

With all that I’ve learned over the course of a year and a half, I’m happy to say that I’m leaving knowing that students, faculty and staff at the University of Washington are dedicated and committed to lessening the university’s carbon footprint.

As I say goodbye to UW Sustainability, I also say goodbye to my four undergraduate years at the UW. As I walk away with degrees in Journalism and English and a wealth of sustainability knowledge, I can’t help but thank my coworkers, professors and peers who have made my time at the UW most enjoyable.

And to all the freshmen who are interested in sustainability, make sure your voice is heard. There are a number of student organizations on campus you can be a part of, different free sustainability events and lectures you can attend, and a variety of ways you can start reducing your carbon footprint – whether it’s recycling, composting or being mindful of your transportation, energy or water habits.  

You’re never too young to make an impact – why not start being the change you wish to see in the world today.