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National leadership award for postgraduate environmentalist

"This award recognises the serious work in the College regarding sustainability initiatives and tackling the climate emergency"

St John’s College ‘sustainability star’ Jessica Tearney-Pearce has won a national student award for her green leadership skills.

Jessica has been named winner of the Student Leadership Green Impact 2020 National Special Award by Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK), an educational charity created by the National Union of Students (NUS) in response to the climate emergency and ecological crisis.

Green Impact is one of SOS-UK’s flagship sustainability engagement and change programmes, part of the wider United Nations Green Impact network designed to support environmentally and socially sustainable practice within organisations, including more than 60 UK universities.

Jessica at allotments
Jessica was instrumental in setting up the thriving student allotments on Madingley Road. Photo credit: Nordin Ćatić.

The University of Cambridge is a participant in the bespoke Green Impact programme, which is run in partnership with the NUS and SOS-UK. During her PhD studies in History at St John’s in July, Jessica jointly scooped its Student Leadership Award in the Cambridge Green Impact Special awards, sharing the accolade with Charlie Barty-King from Wolfson College. The win saw Jessica automatically nominated for the SOS-UK National Special Awards.

Vicky Jeffries, St John’s College Maintenance Payments and Utilities Co-ordinator, nominated Jessica for the original award, telling judges that she ‘is exceptional in her drive and enthusiasm’. The pair worked together on St John’s debut entry in the Cambridge Green Challenge environmental accreditation scheme, which saw the College awarded a Green Impact Gold Colleges Award in June.

Jessica said: “I am incredibly pleased to receive this award, but I’m more pleased that it recognises the intent of and serious work in the College regarding sustainability initiatives and tackling the climate emergency. The significant success St John’s achieved overall in its first year of Green Impact was due to the collaborative efforts of dedicated Fellows, staff and students, and I don’t doubt that this collective energy will foster further initiatives and progress.”

The nomination noted that Jessica sits on the Sustainability Forum Panel and the Climate Crisis Committee and is ‘a great force for pushing things forward and is a fantastic link between the students and staff who really gets things done’. Last year she worked with Helen Murley, Domestic Bursar, to develop an in-depth Sustainability Framework for the College, which involved her meeting with Heads of Department and relevant staff ‘and gaining a valuable insight into all that the College currently carries out and plans for the future’. Jessica was also praised for being ‘very proactive and if asked to assist in anything is always very enthusiastic’. As well as giving a talk about the College’s sustainable initiatives, such as the creation of the wildflower meadow, she has worked closely with the Catering Department in sharing information with the College community about where food is sourced from and its carbon footprint.

Vicky said: “I am so pleased that Jessica has won this national award. It’s a fabulous achievement and it shows how much sustainability work that we as a College, with Jessica’s assistance, enthusiasm and drive, are already doing, and how much more we can still do. I am looking forward to working with her on our Green Impact entry for this year and hopefully improving on our Gold award.”

The other SOS-UK National Special Award categories are Sustainability Hero, Community Action, Environmental Improvement, Environmental Innovation, and Innovation for Engagement.

Green Impact 2020 National Special Award Winners

Published: 17/12/20

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