Registration Deadlines

The deadline to register for students requesting early ResLife move-in is July 2.
The deadline to register for students with their own living arrangements is July 16th.
We will inform you of your acceptance on a rolling basis, no later than August 9th.

Join the Office of Sustainability for SPARK: A Sustainability Leadership Training Program from August 16th – August 24th!

Program Overview

SPARK: Sustainability Leadership Training Program is a program hosted by the Office of Sustainability. It will take place August 16-24 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*

*Schedule to be determined, subject to change

August 15: SPARK participants move into student housing (those living off campus can settle in whenever they like)

August 16: Brief morning orientation followed by move in support on the S40 and Circularity Center sales at North Campus.

August 17: Move in support on S40, waste stations, support SWAP sale

August 18: Tabling at Welcome Resource Fair, move in support on S40

August 19 – 20: Overnight SPARK retreat at Shaw Nature Reserve

August 21-22: SPARK field trips during the day, waste sorting outreach and event waste stations in the evenings.

August 23 – 24: Circularity Center move in sales, Convocation waste stations, waste sorting outreach. Closing program celebration on Aug 24.

Program Fees

SPARK is free of charge to WashU 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 15th.

Students who register after July 2nd 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 15 or, if necessary, Sunday, August 18. If you require early move-in to ResLife housing, the registration deadline for SPARK is July 2nd. 

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 for program acceptance. Students will not be allowed to arrive late to or leave early from the overnight retreat component. 

If you are not available for the full time or anticipate partial conflicts, but still want to help, please reach out and we can discuss options.


“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 12th 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.