Green Fund Awarded to Professor Valerie Salinas-Davis for "Experience Waller Creek" Project

Austin, TX - A Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations lecturer, Valerie Salinas-Davis, has been awarded $21,500 from the Office of Sustainability’s Green Fund for 2022-23 to help fund the “Experience Waller Creek” campaign.

The award, issued in May 2022, by the Office of Sustainability’s Green Fund helps the fall environmental communication class serve their client University of Texas at Austin’s Environmental Health & Safety department. The Green Fund recipients are determined by a student-majority committee that solicits and reviews proposals and is funded by student tuition as each registered student contributes $5 per semester. Nineteen projects were funded in 2022-2023 with a total of $492,177 distributed to teams led by university students, faculty or staff. The Green Fund annually awards grants to support projects that have a positive impact on the student body to make the campus a greener place. There are also mini-grant opportunities that are awarded on a rolling basis.

Jill Parrish, Green Fund’s program coordinator says, “The “Experience Waller Creek” project is a great example of a Living Lab project. Students are working closely with Environmental Health and Safety staff to assist them with their goal of communicating the work they do protecting Waller Creek to the student body, through research-based communication practices.”

The environmental communication class, led by Valerie Salinas-Davis, practices an interdisciplinary advertising agency model approach to focus on environmental issues. The grant funds will be used to digitize the Waller Creek walking tour, promote the history and horticulture, and educate the community on the importance of Waller Creek. The University of Texas at Austin released the Waller Creek Framework Plan in Spring 2019, which describes the importance of the ecological corridor that runs north and south through campus. The protection of this native space is critical as it collects 95% of the campus stormwater runoff. Educational tools such as storm drain labels will help Longhorns understand the relationship between them and their local water system. Strengthening this relationship between the community members and their space is a vital connection as Salinas-Davis believes, “The more time you spend in nature, the more likely you’ll protect it.”

The environmental communication course is open to all undergraduates across disciplines and presents an opportunity for students to leave the course with a quality experience and portfolio. Regardless of enrollment, interested students can get involved through volunteer opportunities and are encouraged to reach out to Professor Salinas-Davis.

Sophia A. Dove