School of Nursing Green Team at a tabling event

GreenSON has been spearheading environmental efforts at UMB for nearly a decade and continues to be a leader in sustainability.

Continuing our Sustainability Champions series leading up to Earth Day on April 22, the UMB Office of Sustainability would like to feature the University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON) Green Team, nicknamed GreenSON, which is open to staff, faculty, and students at the school.

GreenSON participants come together to actively identify, recognize, and promote conservation-minded initiatives and activities at UMSON. GreenSON is led by Lorrie Voytek, assistant director of development, and Robyn Gilden, associate professor in family and community health and director of the Environmental Health Certificate Program. 

Prior to working at UMSON, Voytek worked at the National Aquarium and was very involved with its conservation efforts, serving on its Internal Conservation Committee and providing resources for staff and volunteers to help incorporate sustainable practices into daily operations. Gilden’s personal interest started when she took her first Environmental Health course in her Community Public Health Master’s program at UMSON. After graduating, Gilden was hired by UMSON, but it was not until the school hired another like-minded faculty member, Rebecca Shelly, that GreenSON began in 2013.

Since its start nearly 10 years ago, GreenSON has quite a few accomplishments to show under the leadership of Voytek and Gilden, including placing lights out reminder stickers throughout the building, removing the majority of desk-side printers, getting bottleless water distribution stations installed, and installing triple bin waste stations to promote proper waste sorting. “These projects would not have been implemented if it weren’t for Dean Jane Kirschling’s vision of sustainable practices for UMSON,” Voytek says. “She has been an integral part of the decision-making process for these initiatives.”

This coming Earth Week, GreenSON’s signature event will be a Free Bike Tune-Up event that will take place Thursday, April 21 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Joe Traill, the owner of Joe’s Bike Shop (which has two locations in Baltimore), and his wife Katie Gore will provide free basic tune-ups for bicycles and share valuable information about bike safety. GreenSON has hosted this event for Earth Week in past years with great success.

When asked about one thing that individuals at UMB can do to contribute to sustainability, Voytek’s answer ties right back to public health.

“The primary thing that everyone can do is to increase their awareness of how much trash they are generating and throwing away,” she says. “It all ends up in the local incinerator, generating air pollution that is showered on the communities in South Baltimore.”

Gilden adds, “We are all leaders in our personal and professional worlds. The most important thing we can do is get informed, educate others, and lead by example.” 

Do you have a UMB Sustainability Champion you would like to nominate to be featured? Please fill out this form. Self-nominations are welcome.

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