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Student environmental group at UCF turns activism into action

Photo: Photo by Aldrin Caplulong, License: N/A, Created: 2011:04:22 14:23:16

Photo by Aldrin Caplulong

IDEAS Guys - (from left) IDEAS vice president Sebastian Church and co-founders Chris Castro and Hank Harding have helped their organization branch out to other campuses and into the community

Group founders Castro and Harding both graduated from UCF last semester. Castro works for the school's Department of Sustainability and Energy Management, while Harding works for Sterling Central Apartments, the UCF area's first "green complex," according to the Central Florida Future student newspaper. Though both have jobs that relate to environmental stewardship, it's not enough to satisfy either of them. "We're kind of in this point of like: what we want to do in the world is not exactly available for us to do yet, for our career," Harding says. "We're so good at working without getting paid, that we don't know how to get money."

Castro and Harding are working to start an environmental consulting company that evaluates the energy efficiency of homes and businesses, then brings in companies to install energy-saving equipment. Castro predicts that by the time the business is operational, "we'd trickle in the companies that we've created through IDEAS," and therefore, take a cut of the profits.

As for the IDEAS members still in school, they also admit their enthusiasm for the group isn't entirely selfless.

"You always want to leave a legacy, you know?" Church says. "And especially at a school like this. Fifty-seven thousand kids, goddamn."

Alaina Bernard, land manager for the Landscape and Natural Resources Department at UCF and the faculty advisor to IDEAS, thinks the group is indeed leaving its mark on the university. "I think they come to the table with an incredible amount of passion, but the thing that makes them different is that they know how to put their passion into action," she says. "[What they do] results in tangible things."

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