Greenstock shows new innovations to students

USF alumnus Ryan Iacovacci founded Birdhouse Buying Club three years ago with his roommates after moving into a house together after graduation.

Together, they started a community where people could purchase locally grown foods.

Were a group of friends and family that has pooled our money together to buy local food, Iacovacci said. Its basically like an online farmers market.

Iacovaccis organization was one of many represented at USFs fifth annual Greenstock event hosted Tuesday by the Student Environmental Association (SEA) in collaboration with Net Impact, Students Protecting the Environment and Animals through Knowledge (SPEAK) and the Anthropology Club. Vendors and organizations from around the Tampa Bay area gathered in the Marshall Student Center amphitheater to showcase their efforts and products that encourage green, sustainable and environmentally friendly practices.

Its an environmental awareness event, and is generally the largest sustainability event in the fall semester at USF, Joseph Michalsky, SEA president and a civil and environmental engineering major said. Its intended as a one-stop shop for environmental information about sustainability issues both on campus and in the Tampa Bay community.

Some of the groups present at the event included the Patel School of Global Sustainability, the Sierra Club, Green Peace and the Birdhouse Buying Club. Food was also provided by Loving Hut, a vegan restaurant, and Sweetbay Supermarket.

Hopefully students will be able to see some of the many opportunities that are available on campus and the different programs that are available to them as students and members of the Tampa community, Michalsky said.

Kathryn Ecker, a senior majoring in biology, said she was impressed by the information and resources the event offered to students.

I didnt realize how many solar panels there were on campus. There are some umbrellas on campus where you can plug in your laptop or other devices on campus, she said.

Part of the events goal was to showcase the Student Green Energy Fund (SGEF) and where money generated from it goes in the university. The SGEF is a $1 per credit hour fee that was implemented by student vote in 2011 to fund sustainable initiatives on campus. Revenue has been applied to provide solar energy to areas across campus, such as a solar charging station outside of Champions Choice and solar-powered fans at the MSC amphitheater the venue of the event.

Our student fees go to maintaining this building and its utilities, and if were offsetting the electricity cost, thats money that is being saved, Michalsky said. So we can either keep our student fees where they are at, or we can provide more services.

Monica Seal, a senior majoring in psychology, said she thought there were some interesting booths present at the event.

I got a free tomato plant, and there were actually some interesting things to learn about, she said. Every table was pretty quick about telling people what they were representing.

Iacovacci said he hopes students see that right now is the time for them to experiment and to support growing movements. He wants students to see that there are opportunities to create jobs, even in this economy.

There are some cool pockets in Tampa, and the more that you get outside of the confines of the university area, the more you will find that, he said. I love Tampa, and I want to make my city better. The job opportunities its tough out there. Im in the same boat, working paycheck to paycheck, and as we graduate, we have to figure out ways to create jobs for ourselves and support each other.