Second annual Golden Gorge Awards recognizes student sustainability leadership

Campus Sustainability Office, Student Intern May 29, 2019

Students have always driven sustainability progress on Cornell's campus, and the 2018-2019 academic year was no different. This spring, the Golden Gorge Awards ceremony hosted on May 9th, 2019 in Alice Cook House recognized students' important contributions, innovation, and lifetime service.

Hosted by the Campus Sustainability Office, student-run Environmental Collaborative (ECO), the ceremony included welcome remarks by Dr. Shorna Allred, house professor and member of the campus sustainability governance committee, who congratulated students on their accomplishments and underlined the importance of their service in Cornell's sustainability and climate leadership.  Remarks were also provided by Vice President of Facilities & Campus Services Rick Burgess, and Associate Vice President of Energy & Sustainability Bert Bland, both known for their dedication to sustainability and support of student projects. 

Julie Kapuvari ('19) and Chris Galantino ('19) spoke of their time in leadership roles in campus sustainability, and encouraged peers to take bold steps in future projects and leadership on campus.

2019 marked the second year of the ceremony, with winners selected from a pool of over 40 nominations. Awards recognize student accomplishments in the areas of food, water, climate leadership, and more, in categories such as "Ripple Effect" and "Lifetime Achievement Award." Although awards focus on the accomplishments of graduating seniors, some also recognized groups which included undergraduate or graduate students. A full list of this year's award winners can be found here or in the short summary below.

The ceremony was held on campus in the Alice H. Cook House, the first residence hall in New York State to receive LEED® certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, and the first ever residence hall to achieve certification by a U.S. university when it opened in 2004.  

Man hands out awards to students
Bert Bland, AVP for Energy & Sustainability, presents an award to a group of graduating seniors at the 2019 awards ceremony

2019 Golden Gorge Award Winners

  • Rookie of the Year: Nadia Vitek ('19)
  • Member of the Year: Lily Bermel ('19)
  • Event of the Year: Fossil Fuel Divestment Petition, Letter and Rally
  • Initiative of the Year: Kate Sims ('19) for Climate Change Chats
  • Ripple Effect Award: Brandon Hoak ('19)
  • JUST Award: Zoya Moshin ('19)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Chris Galantino ('19)
  • Organization of the Year: Cornell Sustainability Consultants
  • Biggest Fail: Ithaca Weather and ECO’s Springfest

The ceremony also recognized graduating seniors who had pledged to commit themselves to a lifetime of sustainability by presenting attendees with Honor Cords, green tassels to be worn during the graduation ceremony.

This story written by Graham O'Donnell, Sustainability Communications Fellow, Campus Sustainability Office