Ms. Alaina Bernard
Former Associate Director of Landscape and Natural Resources
October 2015

Q: What does Sustainability mean to you?
A: To me, sustainability means being balanced with the earth, and being conscious of how our actions affect that delicate balance on the planet. Learning from the Iroquois, we should make sure our actions support seven generations ahead. This ecological concept supports creating a sustainable system, where we can feel connected to something bigger than our individual selves.

Q: Describe the class you teach.
A: The purpose of the course is to teach students how to answer eco-system sustainability questions, and how to properly communicate scientific information. Students are asked to explore the topic of eco-system sustainability in class, design and conduct a science based project on campus, and publically communicate the results at the end of the semester. We explore eco-system sustainability by breaking it into its essential, but inseparable, components of human interactions (people), economic impacts (profit), and ecology (planet). Our interdisciplinary approach allows students to discover the barriers, successes, and ethical dilemmas associated with ecological sustainability. Since 2008, we have we have completed 62 urban ecology research projects with 163 students.

Q: What do you do at UCF to advance sustainability initiatives?
A: As the Associate Director of Landscape and Natural Resources, my day-to-day business is keeping the campus green and beautiful, while balancing the ecological needs and campus expectations of the landscaped and natural areas at UCF. My job focuses on creating and maintaining a beautiful campus that contributes to a sense of place, advances learning, and reflects our commitment to stewardship of human, financial and natural resources. I personally believe that all the work we do is to advance sustainability initiatives, from properly managing the complex landscape to giving students a place to build community and create lasting memories.

I am very blessed to be able to accomplish this due to our amazing staff, especially our landscapers who work tirelessly to make our campus beautiful. I deeply believe in fairness and opportunity (i.e, social justice), and I have had the opportunities to support our staff by developing career advancement and promotional opportunities to highly effective employees. Our staff are motivated to make the campus beautiful, and deserve the recognition for their hard work. As a team, we have also developed more ecologically friendly practices, such as integrated pest management, which established a sustainable approach to managing pests (weeds, bugs, fungus) by combining biological, cultural, physical and chemical tools in a way to minimizes economic, health and environmental risks.

As an instructor, my goal is to educate students on how to apply sustainability research questions to create real-world solutions. Through our class, which I co-teach with the Coordinator of the Arboretum, we are able to create a network of educated adults that leave the classroom with the knowledge of how to identify, conduct, and implement sustainability projects. Our students have applied the learned skills across the world, including Senegal where we have a former student working with women on sustainable agriculture projects.

Q: How can students get involved in your work?
A: Landscape and Natural Resources has a number of student involvement opportunities, which are hosted by the UCF Arboretum. Our websites, www.green.ucf.edu and www.arboretum.ucf.edu, highlight the ongoing formal and informal opportunities for students and the community.

Q: What is your vision for sustainability?
A: Future generations deserve an opportunity to call Earth home, and our ability to identify with and nurture ecological systems will help sustain them. It is not just about the trees and the birds and the butterflies, it is about doing what is better for the entire ecosystem as a whole, as we are all one connected community sharing the planet earth. My hope is that we can get individuals to understand our connectivity, so that we can treat our planet, and the plants and animals that sustain it, with respect.