Students and Staff Honored at Annual Sustainability Dinner and Awards
Dinner and awards highlight work being done to make sustainability an Aggie Tradition.
Tyson Livingston, Texas A&M Division of Marketing & Communications-Student Affairs
Award winners, left-to-right: Kellen Moore (24’), Aden Wang (’26), and Lauren Watson, with Dr. Carol Binzer
TAMU Residence Life
Tuesday, Oct. 24, marked Texas A&M’s 10th Annual Fall Sustainability Dinner and Awards, hosted by the Department of Residence Life. In attendance were approximately 60 students, faculty, and staff from different disciplines across the university, all with an interest or focus on sustainability.
The event was conceived by Chareny Rydl, Executive Director of Residence Life, to bring together students, faculty, and staff with a passion for sustainability. It was designed to be included as one of the yearly Campus Sustainability Month activities, and also as part of the Dinner with a Prof series, a monthly opportunity for on-campus students to engage with faculty outside of the classroom.
One of the highlights of the event every year is the dinner catered by Chartwells. The meal is vegan and includes locally sourced ingredients to be more sustainable. In addition, all dinnerware and waste are compostable, and Residence Life aims for making it a zero-waste event each year.
“We always get a lot of feedback about the vegan meal,” says Dr. Carol Binzer, Director of Administrative Services & Support for Residence Life and leader of the department’s sustainability initiatives, “For many students it’s their first time eating vegan and they are nervous, but most of them come away having really enjoyed it.”
This year, Chef George of Chartwells prepared a delightful menu including tomato-braised winter squash, fried cauliflower bites with smoked beet puree, stuffed peppers with lentils & sweet potato mousse, roasted parsnip filet with lemon and dill, and a vegan pumpkin pie blondie for dessert.
The award ceremony is held immediately after dinner and features winners in multiple categories. Prior to the event, any student, faculty, or staff can submit nominations for those they feel contribute to sustainability in the residence halls and exemplify the Aggie core value of selfless service. Winners are decided by a small committee of Residence Life staff and student leaders.
Award Winners this year included:
- Creative Innovator Award: Kellen Moore (Environmental Studies ’24), for his work with the Aggie Eco-Rep Swap Shop, which has been nominated for program of the year for the upcoming SWACURH conference.
- Friend of Sustainability Award: Azalia Garza, Administrative Coordinator in the Central Administration Office of Residence Life, for her work with the Grocery Give & Grab pantries, which she stepped in to coordinate during the department’s search for a new sustainability coordinator.
- Award for Waste Reduction: Lauren Watson, Program Coordinator II in Residence Life’s Operations & Events office, for taking over the Trex plastic program and helping to transition it to a university-level initiative.
- Green Tradition Award: Aden Wang (Environmental Geoscience ’26), for his work across several events, including volunteering in swap shops and the succulent sale, and his contributions to grant writing submissions to the Aggie Green Fund.
- Sustainability Dream Team Award: the Central Elementary Fifth Grade Class of Angleton, TX, for their continuing efforts to collect plastic bottle caps for Bancas de Tapitas, an initiative that works to reduce plastic waste in landfills and contributes to pediatric chemotherapy funding for children in Mexico.
For many this is a recognition of how small acts can make a big difference.
"As a child, sometimes we struggled with food insecurity. Somehow, someone would always pull through for us,” says award-winner Azalia Garza. “I remember my dad always saying that one day I would have opportunities to change that. This project, as small as it may look, is making huge impacts in our community. Here is something that you can stand behind that will not only be sustainable but help make real change in someone’s life.”
For the Department of Residence Life, this event highlights the work being done across the university to make sustainability an Aggie tradition.