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R-MC Student Experience: Gabe Kachuba ’09
R-MC Student Experience: Gabe Kachuba ’09
Gabe Kachuba: "I think having a degree in environmental studies will be beneficial in solving some of the major problems our society faces."
(l. to r.) Katie Daisey '12, Craig Collins, Mark Devlin, Dr. Reber Dunkel, Gabe Kachuba '09
On Wednesday, April 29, 2009, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) presented Estes dining hall with its prestigious Virginia Green Restaurant Certificate.
Gabe Kachuba ’09
had a vested interest in the acquisition of the award. The
environmental studies major
built a research project around the greening of Estes.
The Virginia Green initiative is a statewide program that works to reduce the environmental impacts of Virginia's tourism industry. The program is based on a partnership between the DEQ, the Virginia Tourism Corporation and the Virginia Hospitality and Tourism Association.
To read more Student Experience stories, click
The “greening” of a restaurant means that it can have a significant impact on the lives of its patrons and how they think about the environment. R-MC’s Virginia Green Restaurant initiative began in the spring of 2008. R-MC Professors Reber Dunkel, Ph.D. (sociology) and Brian Moores, Ph.D. (
) worked with the DEQ in concert with their First-Year Experience (
Randolph-Macon's Ecological Footprint: Steps toward Environmental Sustainability.
The course offers students the opportunity to explore their individual and collective “footprints”—the environmental impact of human activities on natural ecosystems—as they relate to R-MC’s campus. Throughout the year-long course, students investigated the sources and size of the R-MC eco-footprint and developed a plan to reduce it, thereby assisting the college in developing a campus-wide environmental management system.
Other students joined Kachuba in this initiative to make the college more eco-friendly. His research, in conjunction with his environmental sociology studies, involved meeting with representatives from the Virginia DEQ as well as R-MC’s Mark Devlin, the director of dining services. “I decided to undertake the project because I was interested in the overall vision of Randolph-Macon's master plan and wanted to see what could be done for existing buildings earning some level of green certification,” says Kachuba.
Students from the
course then collaborated with Craig Collins, R-MC’s health and safety programs manager, who in turn worked with Tom Dwyer, director of the college’s physical plant, and Devlin to determine how Estes could fulfill the criteria needed for certification.
Katie Daisey ’12, who serves on the Estes food committee, worked with food services to discuss additional environmentally-friendly practices. One of her suggestions—buying organic food from local farmers—was implemented in April 2009. By purchasing locally-grown organic food, the college can support local growers and save money.
L. Preston Bryant Jr., Secretary of Natural Resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia and a 1986 alumnus of Randolph-Macon College, spoke to students enrolled in the Gauging course in September of 2008 and lauded Randolph-Macon College for continuing to pursue on-campus green initiatives.
For over a decade, R-MC has implemented energy conservation measures such as replacing windows with insulated glass, installing motion sensors in dormitory restrooms, reducing water consumption by using low flow shower heads and recycling toner and inkjet cartridges, aluminum cans and paper. The college has also been converting from fuel oil to natural and propane gas to reduce carbon emissions.
In addition to the basic requirements established by the DEQ, students in Dunkel and Moore’s FYE course worked toward the greening of Randolph-Macon College by doing the following:
• Established a recycling committee
and proposed a “Memorandum of Understanding” to systematically coordinate and maximize recycling efforts on campus. Students were assisted by Collins, the Residence Life staff, R-MC Professor Mike Fenster, Ph.D. (environmental studies) and R-MC’s Students for Environmental Action. (March 2009)
• Conducted a food waste characterization study in Estes.
Collins took care of the arrangements and students in Dunkel’s environmental sociology classes assisted in conducting the study. (December 2008)
• Estes went “trayless.”
Moores suggested this action and Collins implemented it. (February 2009)
• Estes Dining Hall recognized by DEQ as a “green restaurant.”
This opens up possibilities for other initiatives, such as buying food from local organic growers. This was started by environmental sociology students in spring 2008 and successfully brought to fruition by Collins and Devlin.(April 2009)
• FYE students completed community service/experiential learning projects.
In November 2008 they planted native, drought-resistant plants in bio-retention system at Union Bankshares corporate headquarters. In March 2009 they planted trees on five acres of wetlands at Meadow Event Park, the new State Fair of Virginia fairgrounds, and in April 2009 they picked up trash along Mechumps Creek in Ashland on Macon a Difference Day.
• Students hosted Dr. Mitchell Thomashow,
president of Unity College, as Earth Day speaker, guest lecturer and consultant. (April 2009)
Students are currently working on a “Yellow Jackets Go Green!” Web site
, which will provide information about recycling and other environmental programs on campus, including tips on saving water and energy, and other earth-friendly advice. It will also highlight what other campuses are doing, provide links to other sites and offer information on special events. R-MC Students Jessica Herndon ’12 and Vi Mai ’12 will be responsible for managing the Web site.
“I decided to major in environmental studies because it is a field I was familiar with growing up,” says Kachuba.
“I think having a degree in environmental studies will be beneficial in solving some of the major problems our society faces, especially regarding concerns about climate change, sea-level rise and energy.”
Kachuba, who hails from Stratford, Connecticut, is currently interning at Regional Plan Association, an urban and regional planning firm with offices in New York City, Stamford, CT, and Princeton, New Jersey. He plans to attend graduate school in the fall of 2010 to pursue a master's degree in urban and regional planning. While at R-MC, Kachuba was actively involved in Kappa Alpha Order fraternity—he is the outgoing president—and he served two years each as a resident assistant and orientation leader.
For information on the greening of Estes, visit
For information on R-MC’s First-Year Experience program, visit
For information on R-MC’s sociology department, visit
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