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Spirit of Sustainability Awards |


The Auburn University Spirit of Sustainability Awards program exists to recognize individuals or groups of Auburn University students, faculty, staff, and alumni that exemplify the Auburn spirit by making significant contributions toward sustainability on campus or in a community at any point along the Sustainability Compass: Nature, Economy, Society, individual and collective Wellbeing. Nature undertakings exemplify how we can restore, protect, and live in accord with the laws of Nature.  Economic achievements contribute to a prosperous economy that is viable, fair, and inclusive.  Societal work cultivates connectedness, caring, equity, and engagement.  Efforts for Wellbeing nurture individual health, fulfillment, happiness, and collective wellbeing.

While all nominations echo various points of the Sustainability Compass, awardees are chosen based upon their motivation and commitment to sustainability; the impact of their work; and the degree to which they engage and involve others in their efforts.

Spirit of Sustainability Award Icon

Thank You!

The Office of Sustainability would like to thank the following for their contributions to the Spirit of Sustainability Awards.

Program Developers

Sara Geonczy

Rachel Preuit

Selection Committee Members- Past & Present -

Asim Ali

Carolina Ruiz

Chloe McMahon

Clay McInnis

Crystal Boutwell

Eric Smith

Ginny Lampkin

Glenn Loughridge

Harriet Giles

Matthew Preisser

Nanette Chadwick

Paul Drenning

Robin Jaffe

Sara Geonczy

Sarah Hamilton

Shannon Bryant-Hankes

Taylor Craft

Wayde Morse

Additional Partners

Courtney Windham

Earthborn Pottery

Office of Communications & Marketing

How to Submit a Nomination

Nominations for the 2025 Spirit of Sustainability Awards may be submitted to the Office of Sustainability.  All nominations must be received by the end of the day on January 31, 2025.  Awardees will be officially recognized at our awards ceremony during Earth Week 2025.

People affiliated with the following groups are eligible to receive an award:

  • Students
  • Faculty
  • Staff
  • Administration
  • Alumni

Nominations may be of an individual or a group, and self-nominations are welcome.

To make a recommendation for an award, please complete the Spirit of Sustainability Award Nomination Form.


We’ve been privileged to honor these select recipients who are representative of the larger passion and commitment to sustainability that exists within the Auburn Family.   Their stories serve as powerful reminders of the ability we each possess to help create a sustainable world.

2023 Recipients

We gathered to celebrate the many efforts and accomplishments of the following sustainability champions on April 19th 2023 at the ALFA Pavilion.. We encourage you to learn about the many efforts and accomplishments of the sustainability champions who received a 2023 Spirit of Sustainability Award.

Avery Agostinelli — Student

Alabama City Year Program — Group

Conservation Governance Lab — Group

Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences Club — Group

Beth Davis-Sramek — Faculty

The Eagles Program — Group

Kreher Preserve and Nature Center — Group

Ifeoluwa Odeniyi — Student

Office of Global Education — Group

Ryan Thomson — Faculty

2021 Recipients

We gathered to celebrate the many efforts and accomplishments of the following sustainability champions on April 21st 2021 at the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center.  We encourage you to learn about their work below.

Ben Burmester — Administration

The Functional Ice Intiative — Group

Marley Halter — Staff

Hunger Solutions Institute — Group

Young-A Lee — Faculty

Chandana Mitra — Faculty

Alayna Priebe — Student

Anne Randle — Alumna

Student Counseling & Psychological Services — Group

Hollen Terry — Student

2019 Recipients

We formally recognized the following recipients on April 23, 2019 at the Pavilion at Ag Heritage Park. We encourage you to read about their efforts and dedication to sustainability below.

Auburn University Aquaponics Project — Group

Kenzley Defler — Student

Mark Dougherty — Faculty

Jeffrey Fergus — Administration/Faculty

Holley Henderson — Alumna

Jeffrey LaMondia — Faculty

Sergio RuizCórdova — Staff

Wanona Satcher — Alumna

Eric Smith — Administration

Giovanna Summerfield — Administration/Faculty

2017 Recipients

We honored the following recipients on April 20, 2017 at the Pavilion at Ag Heritage Park. You may learn a bit about their passion and efforts for sustainability below.

Don Andrae — Staff

Auburn Outdoors — Group

Engineers Without Borders — Group

Lisa A.W. Kensler — Faculty

John S. Kush — Staff

Cindy Lowry — Alumna

Hallie Nelson — Student

O Grows — Group

Kaitlin Robb — Student

Jean & Ed Stead — Alumni

Amy Wright — Faculty

2016 Recipients

We honored the following recipients on April 20, 2016 at the Pavilion at Ag Heritage Park. You may glimpse a bit about their passion and efforts for sustainability below.

Dan Ballard — Alumnus

Sweta Byahut — Faculty

DESIGNhabitat Project — Group

Energy Management Group — Group

Michael Freeman — Staff

Rachael Gamlin — Student

June Henton — Administration

Wayde Morse — Faculty

Sam Price — Student

Brian & Elizabeth Simpson — Alumni

2015 Recipients

Eve Brantley — Faculty

Carlie Bullock-Jones — Alumna

Campus Kitchens Project — Group

Dennis DeVries — Faculty

Glenn Loughridge — Staff

Jaimen Perez — Student

Rural Studio — Group

2014 Recipients

Sushil Bhavnani — Faculty

Amanda Gale  — Faculty

Sara Geonczy — Student

Alexis Harrison  — Student

Healthy Tigers — Group

Michael Hein — Faculty

Judd Langham — Alumnus

Libraries & Facilities Management — Group

Trey McDonald — Alumnus

Christopher McNulty — Faculty

Off Bottom Oyster Farming — Group

The William Olson Student Achievement Award

Photo of Will Olson, the namesake of the Student Achievement in Sustainability Award.

Will Olson, the namesake of the Student Achievement in Sustainability Award.

As a special part of the Spirit of Sustainability Awards, the William Olson Student Achievement Award has been created to recognize Auburn students who exemplify the same passion and commitment to sustainability as the award’s namesake, Auburn alumnus William K. Olson (1986 – 2012). This honor is bestowed annually to an Auburn student who embodies the same level of commitment to a sustainable future as Will.

Having already battled brain cancer that first emerged when he was 14, Will started as an Auburn student in 2005. Although Will’s major was Chemical Engineering, Sustainability was his passion. An Honors student with a voracious intellectual appetite to learn about a range of sustainability topics, Will was involved as a Freshman with efforts that eventually created Auburn’s recycling program and was an Office of Sustainability intern in 2010.

Will worked alongside his peers to advance sustainability in the Auburn community with humor, kindness, eloquence, and professionalism. He had the ability to move smoothly up and down the scale between fine detail and systems thinking, and brought a sense of the larger picture whether he was working on organic gardening, renewable energy, energy efficiency, alternative fuels, or waste reduction. Will’s passion for sustainability, determination in both thought and action, personal selflessness, and maturity beyond his years set a very high bar for what it means to be a student sustainability leader at Auburn University.

Will graduated from Auburn in 2011 with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and minors in Spanish and Sustainability. Will was working as an engineer and passionate sustainability practitioner when he died suddenly in May 2012 as a result of complications from his continuing 11 year battle with cancer. There is no doubt that Will would have continued to make significant contributions to the sustainable future he knew was possible, and would have expanded his role as a sustainability leader and role model for other Auburn students.

Past recipients of this distinct honor have been Nathan Warner (2013), Sara Geonczy (2014), Jaimen Perez (2015), Rachael Gamlin (2016), Hallie Nelson (2017), and Kenzley Defler (2019).