By Chris Chipello
Less than a week after receiving his B.A. from McGill, Jonathan Glencross is about to collect a major environmental award for helping to make the University’s operations more sustainable.
Earth Day Canada has announced that Glencross will receive the 2011 Individual Hometown Heroes Award at the national environmental charity’s annual Gala on the evening of June 8, in front of 500 business and environmental leaders at Toronto’s Drake Hotel.
The award comes with a cash prize of $10,000 ($5,000 to keep and $5,000 to donate to the environmental cause of the winner’s choice).
Glencross, one of the architects of McGill’s Sustainability Projects Fund, “is an environmental leader who has shown commitment and achieved results in his community,” said Jed Goldberg, president of Earth Day Canada.
The Sustainability Projects Fund, created to help promote and build a culture of sustainability at McGill, finances initiatives across the University. The fund has an annual budget of roughly $800,000 for three years, with the money coming in equal parts from students – through a fee of 50 cents per credit — and a matching amount from the administration. To date, almost 40 projects have been funded that are led by students and staff from across the University.
In announcing the award, Earth Day Canada also cited Glencross’s role as co-founder of the McGill Food Systems Project. A collaborative effort by students, professors, McGill Food and Dining Services and the McGill Office of Sustainability, the project helps the campus, regional community and food supply chain work together to create a sustainable food system.
“Jonathan has made a huge difference at McGill and has influenced an incredible number of people to make sustainability a reflex in their daily lives, rather than an afterthought,” said Jim Nicell, Associate Vice-Principal (University Services) . “I think that what we have seen from him so far is only the tip of the iceberg and he will continue to lead the way to sustainability efforts far beyond the confines of McGill. If there is anybody that I know who passionately wants to change the world and has the capability to do it, it is Jonathan.”
Glencross, who studied in the McGill School of Environment, said his $5,000 donation from the award will go to Local Food Plus, a non-profit organization that has developed a certification system for local food that is environmentally and socially sustainable. The group is based in Ontario but will soon expand to Quebec, and plans to work with the McGill Food Systems Project.
After four years of being “as engaged and involved as possible” as an undergraduate, Glencross said he expects “to take some time off” to spend time with friends and family, travel, and take stock.
At Glencross’s Convocation ceremony last week, honorary degree recipient William Shatner told the graduates that “the road to life isn’t linear” and that they shouldn’t be afraid “of taking chances — of striking out on paths that are untrod.” The $5,000 in prize money that Glencross gets to pocket may give a him a little more leeway to explore new paths before he sets his next course of action.