> Impact and benefits
Through the aforementioned actions Suzanne has undertaken to go above and beyond – encouraging UQ’s staff and students to create their ‘pebble in the pond’ – there have been many benefits and impacts. By helping to develop, facilitate and launch the Green Ambassador Program, Suzanne has not only given student employees and council volunteers the opportunity to learn how to run a university-wide initiative, but she has facilitated the opportunity for hundreds of students (nearly 700 across the program’s social media channels) to engage with a central sustainability program. This has afforded them networking with like-minded peers, opportunities to attend sustainability-related events, volunteering experiences, and diverse education about the environment and sustainability.
Meanwhile, implementing the Green Fund grant program in 2019 has allowed students the freedom to brainstorm exciting and progressive sustainability initiatives that can be conducted on campus to the benefit of the whole UQ community. Through the establishment and running of this fund, Suzanne has provided resources to help students to create lasting change. Since 2019, four student projects have received a total of around $1,200 to fuel sustainability outcomes. Inviting student employees into the UQ Sustainability office not only impacts the students’ future prospects, but positively impacts the workplace too.
With new students bringing in fresh ideas, UQ staff have often been inspired to explore new opportunities or try problem solving in new ways. Every student brings something different, and the partnership is mutually beneficial. As such, working in the UQ Sustainability office has become a well-regarded position and something sustainability-minded students aspire to be a part of. Since 2011, Suzanne has mentored 14 students, including those who have worked directly with the UQ Sustainability office, those who have been part of student-staff partnerships, and those who have conducted research and other smaller projects with the team.
Establishing Sustainability Week, and running it for nearly a decade, has enabled Suzanne to turn this week-long event into something of an institution at UQ. The week is not only a social experience for the UQ community, but it engages the broader communities around UQ campuses, too, further extending the number of people who can become involved in the University’s sustainability activities. An unexpected positive outcome was the increased outreach that the 2020 Sustainability Week had, with majority of events being online. This allowed UQ and the general community, especially those who lived away from the campuses, to become involved in the festivities. Online, this culminated in at least 370,000 participating across all events.
Returning to the sustainability strategy, Suzanne’s diverse consultaion and engagement delivered a rich collection of qualitative and quantitative data for the strategy. Her surveys of more than 250 studetns and staff over three months captured 1,950 individual ideas, categorised into 500 unique suggestions. This process enabled the new UQ Sustainability Strategy 2012 – 2025 to be a true reflection of community priorities and commitments. Returning to the aforementioned philosophy, this approach will hopefully create many pebbles in the pond to ensure UQ meets its sustainability goals.
In general working life, Suzanne’s hard work, deep consideration of topics, and open nature makes her naturally approachable, while also motivating other team members in their own portfolios. Such has been the impact of Suzanne’s mentorship, that this Green Gowns nomination has in fact been student-led and, for the most part, student written, with three of Suzanne’s mentored students and young colleagues collaborating to put together the submission. Verbatim feedback from these students and colleagues illustrates how invaluable Suzanne’s guidance and expertise has been in the workplace: “Suzanne is the best mentor and supervisor I could have hoped for. Without her, I don’t think I would have learned or achieved as much as I have in my 24-month student employment role. She goes above and beyond to make sure all the students in the office are looked after, have the confidence to pursue ideas and have access to her expertise should they need it.” (Emily Conn, 2021 Green Programs’ Assistant).
“Suzanne is a pillar and a powerhouse within the UQ Sustainability Office. Without her consistent dedication to and championing of sustainability within UQ over the past 10 years, the engagement UQ Sustainability receives both within the university and externally could not have grown to be what it is today. She persists everyday to improve the sustainability of UQ in everything she does, while supporting those lucky enough to work with her to do the same.” (Sophie Rutter, Sustainability Engagement Assistant)
“Suzanne has played a crucial role in improving UQ’s sustainability performance and outreach. Not only has she established, supported, and empowered grassroots community engagement programs such as the Green Ambassador Program, the Green Office Program, and the Green Fund, but she has also mastered the ability of communicating the need for, and progress of, sustainability at The University of Queensland.” (Cassidy Mogg, Sustainability Engagement Officer)
“Without Suzanne, UQ wouldn’t have a fabulous silver STAR rating (or a rating at all, if she hadn’t reported our data). We wouldn’t have the Green Ambassador Program, outstanding Green Office Program, Green Fund, or even an as-comprehensive Sustainability Strategy. She works so hard, and UQ is so much better for it.” (Emily Conn).