SMC honors local eco-heros

As a child, she was embarrassed when her father composted. Today, she composts in her own backyard.

Vicki Drake, chair of the earth science department at Santa Monica College, received the annual EcoHero Award for her work in developing and expanding the sustainable technologies program.

"I don't feel like a hero," Drake said after accepting her award at the event. "I am just doing what I was taught to do since I was a little girl, which was to respect nature and the environment. I'm doing the best to make this a better environment. And if that is greening the curriculum and offering a new program and courses, then that's what I do."

Drake's father set her on the path of an environmentally conscious geographer and inspired her to "make the earth a better place," she said.

"My dad was a composter when composting wasn't cool," she said. "All the other kids had garbage disposals and we didn't. Respect nature, don't trash the world, recycle and compost everything. That all came from my dad. He was my big eco-hero."

SMC also honored the curriculum committee that worked in cooperation with Drake on the greening of the curriculum.

"We want to create students that are ecologically literate, so that they can flourish in their lives here on earth," said philosophy professor Amber Katherine, who played a major role in the green curriculum movement.

Genevieve Bertone, SMC's director of sustainability, adviser to the EcoAction Club, and organizer of the EcoHero Awards, said that Drake and the committee have been instrumental in campus sustainability efforts.

"We wouldn't have the sustainable technologies program without [Drake], and anytime you develop a program, you need the support of the curriculum committee," Bertone said. "They have been instrumental at advising us on how to navigate the process and on how to make the best of turning our passion to a program."

The program enables the student to earn certificates in energy efficiency and recycling resource management, which makes SMC the only institution in the nation to offer a degree in recycling, as stated at the event by Jeff Shimizu, vice president of student affairs.

Drake said that it is important to acknowledge the value of the planet and to promote sustainability at SMC.

"Santa Monica College is a leader," she said. "We always have been a leader in all different areas. Now we are a very big leader in sustainability. We have set the bar so high that we are creating a national standard."

Jasmin HuynhComment