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Urban Green Lab, ISP partner on sustainability mobile lab for schools

Janel Shoun-Smith  | 

Concept art for Urban Green Lab's mobile learning lab.

Urban Green Lab will expand programs, Lipscomb students gain internship opportunities through new partnership

Urban Green Lab and Lipscomb University’s Institute for Sustainable Practice announce a new partnership to bring the Urban Green Lab’s sustainability mobile learning lab project to fruition to expand education outreach to citizens and school children in Nashville.

Urban Green Lab is a Nashville nonprofit offering programs that inspire people of all ages to incorporate sustainability into their daily lives. The organization offers workshops on everything from green building to urban agriculture to spark positive changes at home and work that save money, improve health and conserve resources.

The organization’s latest project is a mobile learning lab, expected to be ready for operation by the end of the year. The mobile lab is a custom-built vehicle outfitted with interactive exhibits and green technologies that will travel out to diverse and underserved populations in schools and at community events. The mobile lab will enhance middle and high schools’ science and technology curricula and inspire sustainable behaviors.

As a sponsor of the mobile lab, Lipscomb’s ISP will provide financial resources and a talent pool of alumni, faculty and students to help develop and present educational programming for the mobile lab.

“We want to support Urban Green Lab's vision and leadership for taking sustainability practices and concepts to private citizens and school children,” said Dodd Galbreath, founding director of the institute. “Since 2007, our mission has been to advance the skills and practice of sustainability among professionals. This partnership broadens our mutual reach to all of society to support a world in need of new solutions."

Urban Green Lab’s executive director Jennifer Tlumak Westerholm said her organization’s relationship with Lipscomb has been long and valuable. Lipscomb students and faculty have served as volunteers in the past, and four alumni of the ISP’s graduate program in sustainability currently serve on the Urban Green Lab board of directors.

“We are excited about Lipscomb students and alumni becoming engaged in our mobile lab programs through their capstone projects, internships, mentor relationships and research,” said Westerholm. “Whether through content development, program delivery or program evaluation, Lipscomb’s involvement will be helpful in ensuring this project has the broadest and most beneficial impact possible for the citizens of Nashville.”

The mobile lab will provide cutting-edge programming for public schools that will create ongoing educational, mentoring and relationship-building opportunities. “We want to show students how sustainability relates to their daily lives in their homes, classrooms and their city,” Westerholm said.

As Lipscomb’s ISP enrolls graduate and undergraduate students with a wide range of career interests in many facets of sustainability, institute directors are always on the lookout for internship opportunities in new areas of sustainability, said Emily Stutzman Jones, the academic director for the institute.

“Having an internship option that provides experience in education, advocacy, nonprofit administration and working with children is valuable for many of our students,” she said. “In addition, it’s crucial that all our students learn how to communicate on the topic of sustainability to a wide range of audiences with different experiences. Our students will apply skills learned in the classroom through this partnership with Urban Green Lab.”

Andriah Friend, an undergraduate environmental science and sustainability major at Lipscomb, just completed an internship with Urban Green Lab and said it was valuable for her future career.

“I really wanted real-world experience in the non-profit sustainability realm,” she said. “Through my semester-long internship with Urban Green Lab, I had the fantastic opportunity to see how a non-profit runs from the inside and to contribute my talents to making Nashville a little greener. The internship cemented a lot of things I learned in my classes and put my academic training into practice. I really hope more students will take advantage of this great opportunity!"

Concept art for Urban Green Lab's mobile learning lab.