Registration Deadlines


Join the Office of Sustainability for SPARK: A Sustainability Leadership Training Program from August 18th – August 27th!

Program Overview

SPARK: Sustainability Leadership Training Program is a program hosted by the Office of Sustainability. It will take place August 18-27 on campus and at select locations across St. Louis and Illinois. The program will bring together environmentally-minded WashU students to learn and network. It will include a two-day workshop at Shaw Nature Reserve, guest lecturers, and half-day trips to local organizations to learn more about environmental and social issues as well as on-campus social activities.

Participants will complete at least 20 hours of volunteer service during the program, assisting with move-in and introducing first-years to sustainability at WashU alongside WashU Green Ambassadors (WUGA). Volunteers will educate first-years on waste reduction, waste sorting, utilizing reusables, and other sustainable practices. 

The SPARK training program is designed to provide skills and knowledge necessary to coordinate action on campus and beyond. The program aims to build relationships, enhance collaboration, and *spark* ideas that will inspire and educate global change-makers. 

IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, and access) principles are crucial to the program’s integrity. Participants will engage in intersectional training by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion that connects these priorities to sustainability issues.

The five themes of the program include: 

  • Volunteering 
  • Leadership training and networking
  • On-campus recruitment and engagement 
  • Healing and reflection through nature
  • Understanding the St. Louis region

A final schedule will be shared before the program begins.

Schedule Overview*

*Times are subject to change.

*Students will sign up for volunteer shifts throughout the week (not listed here).

Thursday, August 17: SPARK participants living in on-campus housing are scheduled for early move-in. Welcome back! 

Friday, August 18 – Sunday, August 20 (9:30a – 6:30p, shifts): Brief orientation to move-in for all; assist with waste sorting related to move-in and Share Our Stuff Sale; outreach via tabling; staff green event waste stations at Fall Welcome events and over meal times. Students will serve in shifts, 4-8 hours per day.  

Monday, August 21 (9:30a) – Tuesday, August 22 (6:30p): Overnight trip to Shaw Nature Reserve. Sampled programming includes: 

  • Sustainability on Campus – topical training (waste, transportation, energy, etc.)
  • Dialogue Across Difference
  • Self-care and mindfulness workshops
  • Hiking 
  • Campfire and group bonding
  • Networking among student groups 

Wednesday, August 23: Day trip to Propel Kitchens and Ujima Farm (9a –2:30p), student-led programming (8p – 10p) 

Thursday, August 24: Day trip to Cahokia Mounds* (9a – 2:30p), student led programming (6:30p – 8:30p) 

Friday, August 25: Volunteer for returning student move-in (11p – 2p), Share Our Stuff Sale (11a – 5p), and/or waste sorting stations at Fall Welcome Tailgate dinner (5:30p – 8p) 

Saturday, August 26: Volunteer for returning student move-in (12p – 5p), Share Our Stuff Sale (11a – 4p), and waste stations at Party in the Park (8:30p – 10p) 

Program Fees

SPARK is free of charge to students, including lodging, transportation, meals, and other fees. The Office of Sustainability facilitates early move-in for students living in Residential Life housing, with the option to move in on August 17th.

Students who register after July 17th are NOT guaranteed early move-in housing during the program.

Meals will be provided through a combination of given meal points and catered meals.

Who Can Participate

Limit: 40 participants

The SPARK program is open to all returning WashU students invested in sustainability, the environment, or St. Louis social justice efforts. We encourage students to participate who: are a part of green groups on campus, are pursuing degrees in an environmental field, and/or engage in environmental or social justice work in their communities. Students do not need to hold a current leadership role in an organization to be eligible to attend.

Due to conflicts in scheduling during the program period, students who are participating in the following programs will not be able to enroll in SPARK: STC, WUSA, RA, CS40 exec. If you will be on campus for other programs (Ervin, Danforth, Langsdorf, Rodriguez scholar program retreats; supporting TRIO, Deneb STARS, or Beyond Boundaries; or fall varsity athletes) and are interested in volunteering, please reach out to – we would welcome the extra hands!

Commitment and Availability

The Office of Sustainability works to educate new students on sustainability practices, and reduce and recycle waste related to student move-in and Bear Beginnings.

The early move-in date for ResLife housing students will be Thursday, August 17 or, if necessary, Sunday, August 20. If you require early move-in to ResLife housing, the registration deadline for SPARK is July 17th. 

Students are strongly encouraged to attend every program throughout the week and sign up for a portion of the volunteer shifts, though we can be flexible in certain circumstances. Please be transparent in your registration form so we can adequately consider your ability to fully engage in the program. Students able to commit to the full week may receive preference in the program. Students will not be allowed to arrive late to or leave early from the overnight retreat component. 


“Participating in the SPARK program is a great way to meet people, learn about sustainability initiatives on campus and in the community, and enter a community of students wanting to make WashU more sustainable. 

Activities were planned well and helped us bond. I loved getting to do things like hike through Missouri, write a poem around a campfire, and waste sort with friends. 

I strengthened relationships, volunteered while having fun, and ate a lot of hummus sandwiches. If you’re interested, you should register!” 

-Nia Beane (Class of 2025)

“I loved SPARK because I got to learn about environmental justice and service opportunities on campus and in the greater St. Louis area and connect with lots of other people who care about sustainability. SPARK is a fun, empowering, and great leadership experience. Regardless of whether or not you have experience with waste sorting, you will learn a lot and get to pass on the knowledge to first years which is very rewarding.” 

-Ari Djemal Rukin (Class of 2025)

“I went into SPARK to learn more about the sustainability programs on campus and in the community. I enjoyed traveling to the different sustainability initiatives close to St. Louis. My favorite part was volunteering at Earth Dance Farm where we learned better gardening practices and alternatives to landscape in general that I thought were super interesting. I highly recommend this program to people wanting to learn more about how to take care of our planet and the places where they can collaborate on many interesting projects!”

Michelle Fath (Class of 2024)

Registration deadlines:

The general deadline to register is July 17th for all students.

Registrations are reviewed on a rolling basis. If you are accepted, we will reach out to you by email by August 9th.