We believe that significant change starts with the smallest step. An idea, moment of inspiration, or simple action can set something powerful in motion. These are the inspiring stories of young people who are taking the own small steps to make a big difference on campus, at work, in their communities, and for the world.
We caught up with Lance Kruse, Small Steps, Big Wins Campus Director for BGSU, and Kaitlyn Bailey, co-presidents of a student volunteer group at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) that takes a small step toward conserving energy for their university every Friday night by turning off lights in their academic buildings.
Small Steps: Tell us about where the idea of Friday Night Lights came from.
KB: Dustin Sabo, a past intern for our sustainability coordinator, heard Penn State was doing a similar program and wondered why BGSU wasn’t already doing this.
LK: We saw the lights on in academic buildings on campus that would stay on over the weekend when no one was inside, and said, we could turn the lights off on a Friday night and the staff could turn them back on Sunday evening when they prepped classrooms. Since 2010, we’ve saved BGSU $42,000, and our administration has started installing motion detectors and efficient lighting – doing our job for us in some buildings!
SS: What is a typical Friday night?
LK: We meet at 6:30 in our student union and hand out clipboards to groups of students. They document what time they turned off light switches, and then we give those clipboards to our sustainability coordinator, who calculates how much energy we saved.
SS: How did you get students involved?
KB: Lance and I are in a neat position because we’re both extremely involved on campus in our organizations. Our best tactic is word of mouth. We tell our groups about Friday Night Lights, and they end up spreading the word.
SS: What advice would you give to students who have a great idea but haven’t taken the “first step?”
KB: Even if it seems really huge, there’s probably someone who knows someone that can help you make it happen. We are close to our sustainability director, and if we ever have an idea, we can just email him for advice. Seeking advice is a huge thing.
LK: Don’t necessarily try to reinvent the wheel, but see what you already do and how you can make it bigger.