Sticking with Sustainability in the South

Throughout my time at the University of Tennessee, my academic advisor would have conversations with me about my post graduate plans. During these talks, something would always come up about which area of the country I planned on going to once I graduated. Personally, I love the South and couldn’t really imagine what it would be like living anywhere north of the Mason Dixon line. Although, my advisor pushed for me to look at opportunities in the Northeast or Pacific Northwest, I stuck to my guns and continued to explore sustainability positions in the South. With that being said, I’m sure you can imagine my excitement when I came across the Energy Corps position in Northwest Arkansas. And although it was daunting, imagine my delight when I accepted the position and moved from Knoxville, TN to Fayetteville, AR.

From the get go, I fell in love with this city. Fayetteville is such a special gem in the South. It’s an SEC College town, nestled in the Ozark Mountains with some of the friendliest people in the country. However, the thing I love the most about Fayetteville is how sustainable this city is striving to be.   During pre-service orientation, the new Energy Corps members learned all about what Arkansas is doing to become greener. I was blown away learning about the bike trail system, solar panels on the roof of the Fayetteville Public Library, and Fayetteville’s STAR rating. I feel extremely lucky to have been chosen to be a part of this movement.

During my time with Energy Corps, I will be serving at the City of Fayetteville. Unlike other members, my time will be split between two different offices: Recycling & Trash Collection and Community Resources. Under Recycling & Trash Collection, I am going to be helping increase recycling participation to help the city achieve its goal of having 70% participation by 2015. Currently, we are in the middle of a door to door campaign to help educate citizens about the City’s recycling program. Under Community Resources, I will be helping distribute energy efficiency and weatherization kits. These kits were designed to help low to moderate income households save energy and money. Although these are some of the main things that I’ll be focusing on, I have already brainstormed ideas for roughly 10,000 smaller, energy related side projects.

With one month of service finished, I am feeling pretty positive about the rest of my term with the City of Fayetteville. I am thrilled to be a part of such a sustainable city and help contribute to the sustainable initiatives.


Kate Barnes is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where she studied Sustainability and Environmental Studies.  She has put her education into practice with different jobs including UT Office of Sustainability intern and Garden Educator intern at the UT Gardens. Kate is serving with the City of Fayetteville Community Resources Division and Recycling Division administering the Energy Efficiency Kit program and providing information to increase participation in curbside recycling.


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