Cecilia “Cecy” Cervantes has been passionate about conserving the environment since she was in elementary school. Now a junior at the University of Nevada, Reno, her efforts around the university and community are being recognized.
Cervantes will be honored by Green Nevada, an organization that recognizes achievements in environmental education and sustainability. She has been awarded the Golden Pinecone Award for Youth Leadership. Seven other individuals and companies have also been awarded.
“I was honestly surprised,” Cervantes said. “It made my heart happy because a lot of people don’t think about the environment and getting recognized was nice.”
Cervantes was nominated by her sorority sister, Jade Erikson. Erikson became aware of the award after seeing a post about it on Reno Earth Day’s Instagram page and decided to nominate Cervantes because of her work through ASUN and the Environmental Club.
“It is clear that Cecy truly cares about the environment,” Erikson said. “Seeing how she works for what she believes in and actually makes a difference inspires me to do the same.”
Cervantes was inspired to help the environment by her fifth-grade teacher, Katy Stangland, who taught her class about recycling, water conservation and other ways to sustain the environment. Stangland passed away during Cervantes’s freshman year at UNR.
“I always felt really connected to her, and I wanted to carry out her legacy,” Cervantes said.
Cervantes is the current vice president of the Environmental Club on campus, having previously served as president of the club. According to Cervantes, the club had been inactive for two years when she became president and gave it a presence on campus.
She also served as a senator during the 83rd session of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada. Her platform was to help campus become more eco-friendly.
One of the projects she helped create was to plant 192 tree saplings behind the intramural friends with the Arboretum Board. Soil had been falling onto the fields, causing erosion and destruction to the area surrounding the fields. Planting the trees stopped the erosion because the root systems hold the soil in place while protecting from excess water .
Cervantes said there were simpler things she did before college in order to create an eco-friendly environment. She often carpooled to school with her friends. There weren’t very many recycling bins located throughout campus, but she went out of her way to make sure she recycled. She was known in her classes to be passionate about recycling, and her classmates gave her their water bottles and cans so she could recycle for them.
Cervantes credits the Arboretum Board with helping her succeed with her goals at the university. She said they were welcoming and supportive of her ideas, and helped create more ideas to keep campus eco-friendly.
After she graduates, Cervantes wants to continue to spread education and her message.
“I definitely can see myself volunteering abroad in the future,” Cervantes said. “I want to travel, helping sustainability in third- world countries.”
She encourages students who are passionate about the environment to join the Environmental Club, like its page on Facebook and keep a look out for the club’s events on GivePulse.
Cervantes will be honored with the Golden Pinecone Award on Tuesday, Nov. 1.