IUBeginnings: Sustain-Ability

by: Bridget Flynn
IUBeginnings Sustain-Ability participants!

This summer I had the pleasure of experiencing the first ever sustainability-related IUBeginnings trip. The program was made possible through collaboration between the IU Office of Sustainability and the Office of First Year Experience (FYE). IUBeginnings are five-day freshman only experiences put on by FYE. IUBeginnings trips occur right before the start of Welcome Week. Students get a chance to move in a little early, then go on a trip to get to know some peers with similar interests before the start of classes. There are Outdoor Adventure trips, Arts & Culture trips, Leadership trips, and Community Engagement trips which all reside in different locations throughout the Midwest. Our program, Sustain-Ability, was under the Engaged category as we volunteered our time and sweat at a few charitable organizations here in Bloomington. Along with direct community service, we patronized local restaurants, toured sustainability-related facilities, and got oriented to campus and the greater Bloomington community. We were delighted to call the beautiful IU Research and Teaching Preserve our home during this five-day program.

It amazes me the trip was only five days, because during that short time we learned a great deal, experienced so much that Bloomington and IU has to offer, and bonded into a family, creating lasting friendships.

Highlights of the Experience:

Our hand-crafted journals made from cereal boxes and scrap paper


  • Attended the FYE IUBeginnings trip kick-off event
  • Began getting acquainted with one another – 6 new students and 4 trip leaders combined to mark the start of many new friendships!
  • Made journals out of scrap materials
  • Ventured around campus to discover some campus history, as well as explore sustainability on campus during a campus scavenger hunt. We visited such locations as the Herman B Wells statue, the Sweetheart tree in the Chemistry building, the E-house, and the Campus Gardens
  • Ate at Laughing Planet Cafe

    Emily, Kelsey, and Annie with Bill Brown
  • Volunteered at the 4th Annual Hoosier-to-Hoosier Community Sale (H2H) – which had an absolutely incredible turnout! We met Jacqui Bauer, the Bloomington Sustainability Coordinator, as well as some IUOS interns and we learned about the H2H program.
  • Visited the Bloomington Farmer’s Market and discussed the importance of local food and farming
  • Got our hands dirty serving at one of the Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard (MHC) Community Gardens that provides local produce to MHC Pantry

    Weeding at Butler Garden with MHC
  • Received an orientation and cleaned at the amazing Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard Food Pantry
  • Ate at Upland Brewpub and toured the Brewery, seeing their sustainable initiatives first hand
  • Went on a Nature Hike / Foraging trip in Griffy Woods with Lucille Burtuccio of the Center for Sustainable Living in Bloomington. We learned about native plants and many sustainability initiatives being pursued in the Bloomington community
  • Watched Food, Inc. and discussed the film and subsequent food issues
Moving some food at MHC


  • Ate a delicious breakfast at Bloomingfoods Co-Op and learned about the Co-Op, fair trade practices, and the local food movement
  • At the farm

    Visited John Galuska’s beautiful Urban Farm

  • Walked the newest addition of the B-Line Trail with Steve Cotter from Bloomington Parks & Rec then volunteered with Michael at the Bike Project 2 located in the switchyards right off the trail
  • Ate dinner at Roots on the Square and in some cases, laughed until we cried (which became a common dinnertime occurrence)
  • Went to the Football Stadium for a FYE session about student involvement on campus

    Cleaning at the Bike Project 2
  • Toured IU’s Central Heating Plant
  • Toured LEED-certified Multi-disciplinary Science Building 2 (MSB2)
  • Ate dinner at Taste of India on 4th street
  • Strolled around downtown
  • Toured the Campus Gardens with the Garden Intern, Stephanie Hopkins
  • Ventured to the University Lake Observatory on a night hike where we laid on the dock and stargazed, which inspired some great conversations while bats flew overhead

    Touring the Central Heating Plant
  • Enjoyed a Bloomington Bagel Company bagel breakfast
  • Rode bikes from campus to City Hall where we learned about urban and campus biking and bike safety with Bloomington’s Biking Coordinators. Following our discussion, we took a ride around Bloomington
  • Ate lunch at the Owlery
  • Hiked through the forest to take a swim in Lake Monroe
  • Ate dinner and enjoyed each other’s company at Bill and Linda Brown’s
  • Got ice cream at the Chocolate Moose
  • Program concluded and students were dropped off at their dorms to meet their new roommates and get settled into the upcoming school year
  • Rejoined at the IUBeginnings Trip Wrap-Up Celebration to reminisce about our fantastic experience
The group enjoying some beautiful sunflowers

To see more pictures from the trip, check out IUOS’ Picasa here! This program was an absolutely amazing experience that we hope to continue into the following years. Want to learn more? You can e-mail me at braflynn@indiana.edu.

A big thank you to all of those who made this trip possible! Including: FYE, IUOS, IU Research and Teaching Preserve, Lindsay Davies, Will Simmons, Annie Rowland, Bloomingfoods, Bill & Linda Brown, Michael Hamburger, John Galuska, Upland, City of Bloomington, IU Central Heating Plant, MSB2, IU Motor Pool, and many more!

2 thoughts on “IUBeginnings: Sustain-Ability

  1. Bridget,

    Amazing job organizing this experience! I was impressed by the passion, curiosity, attitude and intelligence of this group and I hope we can keep in touch with them as the continue to be impact players on this campus and in this community.

    Thank you so much for your courage, leadership, organization and hard work! You have laid the foundation for an important tradition.



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