On February 4th at the UK Gatton Student Center, nearly 30 presenters spoke to almost 200 attendants about sustainability issues in and around Central Kentucky, inspiring them to take action in their own communities. The Sustainability Summit’s Keynote speaker, Mark Fisher from the Cincinnati Zoo, told the audience about the incredible transformation the zoo went through to become sustainable and efficient after he became Senior Director of Facilities and Planning. We then heard from three Regional Success Stories: Green Umbrella, the City of Cincinnati, and Maker’s Mark Distillery. Each speaker sent a clear message that, while sustainability may sometimes seem like an uphill battle, it is always worth the climb.

After hearing from the Regional Success Stories, our audience broke up into four groups and chose to learn about one of four tracks: energy efficiency and climate change, sustainable agriculture and local food, waste reduction, or water quality. Each track had three panelists presenting about their unique struggles or accomplishments in that track, providing important insight to the issue for the attendants. Some audience members would later choose to join that track’s Action Team or another, depending on what they felt most passionate about.

A local lunch was provided by UK Dining, and it was a hit! Luckily, we were able to coordinate just the right amount of food with the chef so we had very little food waste. During lunch, Kentucky’s Poet Laureate read some of his poems that reflected his passion for sustainability. 

Attendants then heard from our final three Regional Success Stories: the City of Louisville, Midwest Clean Energy Enterprise, LLC, and the City of Bowling Green. Each presenter demonstrated sustainable initiatives in their community, inspiring Central Kentuckians to enact change in their own communities. The audience then went to learn about one of the four tracks again, and made plans to join an Action Team.

Finally, Action Teams were formed and set goals with the help of EKU’s Facilitation Center. These Action Teams will meet once a month or every other month for one year, carrying out goals they set at the Summit in Central Kentucky communities. If you are interested in joining an Action Team, check out the events page of our website for locations, dates, and times of each meeting. These meetings are open to the public; we want everyone who is passionate about the environment to be able to make sustainable changes in their community!

Thank you to everyone who sponsored, presented at, or came to the Sustainability Summit. We could not have done it without you, and we look forward to hosting this event next year.