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Study Shows US College Students Active in Promoting Sustainability

A recent study by the National Wildlife Federation concludes that although students are increasingly committed to sustainability, universities are not responding in kind

But study says universities are not responding to Generation E

College students across the U.S. are increasingly involved in green movements from organic farming to the development of clean energy, says a non-profit environmental group. But according the National Wildlife Federation's recent study, colleges and universities are not always responding to their students' interests.

Sophia Maravell is enjoying a break from college to work with her father Nick. He has a large organic farm in Adamstown, Maryland. This year they planted corn and soybeans, but they also raise chicken and cattle. Sophia is an active member of the organic movement at college.

"There is a huge youth movement, at least in my school, Colorado College," Maravell said. "And I have witnessed it across a lot of schools, back to earth movement of organic farming."

Sophia says the organic movement is key to sustaining the environment and the human race. She says her organic garden at college is selling vegetables to the college catering service. "I think we are thinking ahead of a lot of older people in the society, and I think this is a global movement," she added.

Sophia has visited organic farms in Europe and India. She complains that her school does not offer the classes she and other students would like to take. "We wanted to get a little more hands on knowledge because our school wasn't really offering those kinds of courses or classes, so we wanted to not just sit around and read a book but actually do something," she said.

Sophia is not alone. A recent study by the National Wildlife Federation concludes that although students are increasingly committed to sustainability, universities are not responding in kind.

Julian Keniry, with the National Wildlife Federation, directed the study. "What we have found is that there is great and growing interest in greening the campus operations but what we are not seeing is a high level of interest around integrating sustainability in the classroom," she said.

The study is called "Generation E: Students Leading for a Sustainable, Clean Energy Future"

The E stands for ecology, sustainable economics and social equity.

The study looked at 160 college campuses where students are active.

"After 20 years of working with students, we are seeing unprecedented levels of engagement and creativity like we have not seen in 20 years," Keniry stated. "This is echoing the civil rights movements and the peace movements of the 60s and 70s."

For example, these students from all over the country show their clean energy projects every year in Washington DC.

Recently, in the capital, students at the Solar Decathlon showed solar homes they built themselves.

"Students are stepping up and leading in unprecedented ways and for every obstacle you can come up with there is a student group really confronting that obstacle in ways that can be adapted to other settings," Keniry said.

Keniry says students across the country have organized green gatherings, pushed for change in local regulations and promoted organically grown food at their schools. She says youth movements have also become politically active, promising to vote after looking at a candidate's record on the environment.