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Sustainable Events

One of our biggest events each year is Earth Day, which occurs annually on April 22. Every year, Creighton celebrates with awareness-raising events throughout the month of April. Earth Month provides us an opportunity to celebrate our achievements and renew our pledge as a University and as individuals to respond to the urgent need for climate action, as articulated by Pope Francis in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.

Earth Month Festivities

Thanks to everyone who participated in our 2024 Earth Month celebration during the month of April. The following are a few highlights:

  • Omaha Climate Resiliency Summit, a collaboration between Conservation Nebraska and Sustainable Creighton kicked off Earth Month with a variety of engaging afternoon breakout sessions and an evening panel. 156 registered attendees participated in the event.
  • Thanks to the hard work of the Eco-Reps and Creighton Community volunteers, our first annual Swap Shop was a huge success! We collected around 235 clothing items and donated 173 pieces to Youth Emergency Services (YES) after the event. This effort helped divert approximately 78 pounds of waste from the landfill, marking a positive impact on our community and environment.
  • The OSP team hosted four themed campus walks focused on sustainability features on campus, native plantings, and Creighton's urban forest. 
  • Thanks to a collaboration with Facilities Management, OSP co-hosted tree planting opportunities resulting in the addition of 4 trees to the campus canopy. 
  • Thanks to donors who gave gifts to the Creighton Student Sustainability Action Fund on Giving Day! Those gifts will help fund student-led, student-driven sustainability and environmental justice projects.
  • The Nebraska Native Pollinator Garden was cleaned up and prepared for the growing season thanks to dozens of volunteers who participated in the Pollinator Garden Workday!
  • We celebrated Creighton's certification as a Tree Campus Higher Education campus with the raising of a new Tree Campus flag. Big shout-out to Ebony Duis, Creighton's landscape supervisor, who was instrumental to certification.

Headliner Events

Global Perspectives on Sustainability Forum

On Wednesday, April 5, 2023, the Office of Sustainability Programs hosted a Global Perspectives on Sustainability Forum. The event was spearheaded by OSP intern, Chantal Portes Estevez. Chantal gathered a panel of six International Students and Global Scholars representing The Netherlands, Australia, India, Tunisia, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic. The panelists shared their experiences and perspectives on what sustainability looks like in other parts of the world. 

Earth Month Celebration

A special Earth Month Celebration was held on Tuesday, April 18, 2023 in the Harper Center Auditorium followed by a reception in the Atrium. The celebration featured remarks from Fr. Hendrickson; a screening of The Last Prairie, a film by Dr. John O'Keefe; a brief update on the University's Sustainable Creighton Initiative; presentation of the 2023 Spirit of Laudato Si' Sustainability Awards; and a reception featuring a plant-based menu.

The 2023 recipients of the Spirit of Laudato Si' Sustainability Awards were Rachel MabreyHenry Glynn, and Chantal Portes Estevez.

Collaborative Efforts

Earth Month Field Trip and Taizé Prayer Service

On Thursday, April 13, 2023, OSP collaborated with Campus Ministry to host the 2nd Annual Earth Month Field Trip to Holy Family Shrine. The outing included a plant-forward dinner, sustainability discussion, and sunset Taizé prayer service.

EPS (StyrofoamTM) Recycling Drive

OSP joined forces with St. John's Creation Care Team to host an EPS Recycling Drive on April 21 - 23, 2023, in Lower St. John's. The effort resulted in diverting approximately 240 cubic feet or 154 lbs of the hard, white, beaded StyrofoamTM from the landfill. The material was transported to Plastilite, a local company who recycles the material which can then be made into items such as surfboards, picture frames, construction material, and more. Volunteers from the Creighton community helped with the collection drive.

Women's Journey Vibe and Paint Menstrual Cup Event

On April 21, 2023, a special eco-friendly Women's Journey Vibe and Paint event was held at the Lieben Center for Women. The event was partially funded by the Creighton Student Sustainability Action Fund (CSSAF). The event, which was months in the making, was led by student Chantal Portes Estevez who designed and submitted a proposal to the CSSAF requesting funding for a menstrual cup education and distribution event. Chantal partnered with the Lieben Center to host this special event for women featuring local OB/GYN and associate clinical professor at Creighton University School of Medicine, Dr. Jodi Hedrick. Participants decorated reusable tote bags to cap off the event.

Additionally, view what other areas of campus did hosting Earth Month opportunities

Spirit of Laudato Si’ Award!

Each year the Spirit of Laudato Si' Sustainability Award is given to a sustainability champion. The award is presented at a special Earth Day celebration in April.

Spirit of Laudato Si' Sustainability Award Criteria

The annual award identifies and recognizes Creighton University students, staff, faculty, and groups from across the University who are engaged in making an impact on, and developing a culture of, caring for our common home through campus sustainability and environmental justice efforts. Their efforts can include generating awareness, implementing strategic projects, or catalyzing new initiatives. Sustainability issues are intentionally broadly defined and may include an overlap of environmental, technological, economic, political, socio/cultural, philosophical, or theological approaches focused on social and environmental equity and justice.

The award(s) will be presented each year during April as part of Creighton’s Earth Month celebration. Nominations should describe the result of efforts observable in the campus community over the last year.

The next Spirit of Laudato Si' Sustainability Award will be presented in April 2025. Nominations can be made for groups (either formal or informal groups) or individuals. Self-nominations are encouraged. Nominations should be no less than one paragraph and no more than one page. Email nominations to between February 1, 2025 - March 15, 2025.

The committee reserves the right to award more than one award each year.

In addition to the annual award described above, the selection committee may award two special awards: Community Partner and Distinguished Career.

Each submission will be evaluated on one or more of the following categories contained within the St. Francis/Laudato Sí Pledge, which states “I pledge to pray, live, and advocate Laudato Sí:”

  • Prayer and Reflection: Environmental and social justice activities associated with developing a deeper concern for the gift of God’s creation and the poor and vulnerable impacted by our lifestyles. Examples include organizing and attending service trips and community engagement opportunities through SCSJ and coordinating and participating in events through Campus Ministry.
  • Live: Modelling behaviors and/or encouraging change to address climate change and environmental degradation as evidence of solidarity with those who suffer the consequences of our lack of respect for God’s gift of Creation. Examples include choices to engage in simpler, low consumption, and less materialistic lifestyles and encouraging others to do the same.
  • Advocate: Becoming a meaningful, critical, informed voice of the poor, the vulnerable, and those who have been discriminated against by systematic racism in demonstration of Catholic principles and priorities at local, state and national policies to address environmental justice and climate change. Examples include leading public forums focused on environmental justice issues such as increasing sustainable energy, decreasing use of fossil fuels, and fair voting rights.

Spirit of Laudato Si’ Award Winners

Mary Duda

Mary Duda, Laboratory and Chemical Compliance Program Manager

A longtime supporter of sustainable programs at Creighton, Mary has served as a mentor to colleagues and students alike. She is a noted collaborator across campus units and has used her expertise to provide insights that have collectively moved the University forward in its sustainability goals. Most recently, Mary helped expand Creighton’s EPS (Styrofoam) recycling programming within the health sciences laboratories from event-based collections to a standard operating procedure for these spaces.

Izabella Lach and Sandy Ng

Izabella Lach and Sandy Ng, M2 Students, Phoenix Campus

As co-chairs of the M2 Sustainability Committee, Izabella and Sandy have shown an incredible passion for expanding conservation awareness on our Phoenix campus. Receiving several Creighton Student Sustainability Action Fund awards, these students have planned and executed events that have created a framework for continued growth in understanding the ways in which environmental health can be supported through the health sciences to improve the lives of others.

Rachel Mabrey

Rachel Mabrey, assistant director of alumni relations, was nominated for her efforts to shift the mindset and infuse sustainability into how her division functions. The following statements were included in her letters of nomination.

  • She recognized early on that the items we were creating for events were single-use items that would be thrown out quickly. She shifted the mindset of not only staff, but also alumni, to show that we could be giving out items that had a lasting impact.
  • Rachel was instrumental in assisting University Relations with moving buildings in November of 2022. She consistently was generating piles of items that could be donated.
  • When it comes to caring for our common home, Rachel keeps us all on track in our office. And her reach within our 80,000 alumni has created more sustainable programs for us moving forward.

Henry Glynn

Henry Glynn is a double major in theology and political science with a minor in justice and peace studies. He served as a policy intern with Catholic Climate Covenant, an organization which coordinates U.S. Catholic action on climate change and collaborates with 20 national Catholic organizations, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He serves as a Policy Advisor to Catholic Climate Covenant. The following statements were included in his letters of nomination.

  • Henry embodies the mission of caring for our common home through his work on campus, nationally, and internationally.
  • Henry is an extraordinary person who truly embodies the spirit of Laudato Si'. He is a sustainability champion who has made a difference and will continue to make a difference long after he graduates from Creighton.
  • In February 2022, Henry and Emily Burke, class of 21, presented directly to Pope Francis about young Catholics' climate change concerns. Henry spoke courageously about the need for systemic reforms and subsequently co-authored a national op-ed prophetically challenging U.S. Catholic leaders.

Chantal Portes Estevez

Chantal Portes Estevez is an environmental science major. She is the president of the International Student Association, has participated in SCSJ Service and Justice trips, served as an ILAC-Creighton intern at the ILAC Center in the Dominican Republic in Summer 2021, and has been a sustainability intern for the Office of Sustainability Programs since Spring 2021. The following statements were included in her letters of nomination.

  • Chantal exhibits all pillars of the laudato Si' Sustainability Award, particularly her energy for making change and her advocacy on campus.
  • She has worked tirelessly as an ambassador and an advocate among her peers. Her relatability and down-to-earth nature educates and inspires people around her.
  • She has served as the president of the International Student Association, where she has made a commitment to spreading awareness about the intersections of being a global citizen and being a climate advocate.
  • 2022 - Emma Yackley (student)
  • 2022 - University Dining/Sodexo (staff)

Feast of St. Francis Celebration

The Feast of St. Francis occurs annually on October 4. Creighton is dedicated to the pledge which is a commitment "to living out the vision of the encyclical and our Catholic faith through prayer, concrete action, and advocacy."

We encourage you to take the pledge, too!

St. Francis/Laudato Si' Pledge

During the Summer of 2018, Fr. Daniel Hendrickson, SJ, Creighton University's 25th president, signed the new St. Francis/Laudato Si' Pledge, committing Creighton to a renewed culture of praying, living, and advocating to protect our common home.

The Catholic Climate Covenant updated their original St. Francis pledge in 2017 to celebrate the second anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home. Fr. Timothy Lannon, SJ, as Creighton University’s president, signed the original pledge on October 4, 2013.

Father Hendrickson on campus with student.

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