Monday April 18, 2011

Working for a Sustainable Dayton

A.J. Ferguson received a boost toward that goal by winning a competitive federal scholarship for students committed to careers in the environment.

University of Dayton junior A.J. Ferguson has a vision for a more sustainable Dayton and someday hopes to be at the forefront of making it a reality.

The mechanical engineering student from Beavercreek, Ohio, just received a boost toward those goals with a competitive federal scholarship for students committed to careers in the environment, health care or tribal public policy.

Ferguson earned one of just 80 Udall Scholarships providing $5,000 toward his senior year of college. Only 15 percent of applicants received a scholarship. He is the only student from an Ohio college or university to win a Udall scholarship this year. Ferguson is the first winner from the University of Dayton.

Many of the lessons Ferguson hopes to apply to a more sustainable Dayton come from his internship with Sustainable Pittsburgh, an organization aiming to make Pittsburgh businesses and communities more sustainable. Part of Sustainable Pittsburgh's plan includes a sustainable business designation for the downtown districts and its surrounding boroughs, Ferguson said.

Ferguson has been putting some of his experience to work as an intern in University of Dayton's Rivers Institute. The institute is dedicated to reuniting Dayton and its rivers by showing the Dayton community how the area's rivers are instrumental to the communal, economic, aesthetic and ecological vitality of the region.

"Since becoming a River Steward, nothing excites me more than Dayton and its rivers," Ferguson said. "Basketball, soccer and other sports have lost their ranks in favor of kayaking and biking. Dayton really does have a bright future and I want to be part of making it happen."

Ferguson also participated in University of Dayton sustainability study-abroad programs in Austria, Moldova and Romania.

"As Dayton, the United States and the world face new energy and environmental
challenges, many cite the advances in sustainability made by European countries as models for the U.S. Yet, such ideas and technologies have so far struggled finding a place here," Ferguson said. "My experiences may help offer insight into why sustainability in the U.S. might lag behind Europe and how models from Europe could be adjusted for mainstream America. Also, these lessons are helping me think about a more sustainable Dayton region, specifically the model of leadership that makes such change possible."

The 2011 Udall Scholars will assemble Aug. 3-7 in Tucson, Ariz., to receive their awards and meet policymakers and community leaders in environmental fields, tribal health care and governance.

For more information, contact Shawn Robinson, associate director of news and communications, at 937-229-3391 or