Third annual Golden Gorge Awards for student sustainability leadership

Campus Sustainability Office, Student Intern June 10, 2020
Thank you slide with all award winners names on it
Although many events were canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Golden Gorge Awards was held virtually this year via Zoom. Over 60 people attend virtually (a mix of staff, faculty, and students).

Hosted by the Campus Sustainability Office (CSO) and Cornell Environmental Collaborative (ECO), the ceremony included welcome remarks by Sarah Zemanick, the Director of the CSO, who congratulated students on their accomplishments and dedication and provided updates on Cornell’s renewable energy projects. Remarks were also provided by Vice President of Facilities & Campus Services Rick Burgess, who provided words of wisdom for our community with some of his favorite book recommendations. Bruce Monger, Cornell professor who teaches the renowned Introductory Oceanography course, also spoke on the importance of student leadership and activism.

Golden Gorge Zoom snapshot

With the largest pool of over 50 nominations, this year’s awards also recognized student dedication and resilience during an unprecedented semester. A new award, “Life Gives You Lemons,” was added this year to recognize a student, student organization, event, or initiative that "made lemonade out of lemons," or made the best of an unexpected virtual semester. This award celebrates the flexibility, innovation, and agility of the recipient to continue to make an impact in sustainability during this pandemic.

Full list of this year’s award winners can be found here or in the short summary below.

Closing remarks were given by student alumna, Elizabeth Couse (‘19), previous ECO Co-Facilitator and three graduating senior speakers, who were nominated by their peers to speak,  Cynthia Chu, Naomi Haber, and Katie Sims. 


Golden Gorge Awards 2020 Winners:

  • Rookie of the Year: Cornell Compost

  • 'Life Gives You Lemons’ Award: Residential Sustainability Leaders
  • Ripple Effect Award: Erika Kane (‘20)
  • Event of the Year: CJC’s Wedding of Cornell and Fossil Fuels
  • Organization of the Year: GreenClub
  • Initiative of the Year: Lily Bermel (‘21) -  “Why Cornell Dining Needs Sustainability and Why Sustainability Needs Cornell Dining”
  • Member of the Year: Kathryn Cooke (‘20)
  • JUST Award (Justice, Unity, and Sustainability Triumphs): Anabel’s Grocery
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Naomi Haber (‘20)

This story written by Cynthia Chu, ECO/Student Engagement Coordinator, Campus Sustainability Office