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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Student organization preserves San Marcos environment for over 20 years

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Members of ECO learn from Rasmey Mau at her farm. 

Student members in the Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO) at Texas State have strived to keep San Marcos’ habitat clean for nearly two decades through initiatives like community service and trash pick-ups.
The club was originally formed in 1998 and was called the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP). It was created by students who wanted to bring light to environmental issues.
“Back when ECO was the National Association of Environmental Professionals, they were kind of instrumental in terms of helping the Texas State campus to kind of be able to focus on environmental issues and then have a way to fund environmental projects on campus that made them more of a green campus per se,” said Kimberly Meitzen, associate professor of geography and ECO’s advisor.
Besides bringing light to environmental issues, NAEP was involved with helping provide funds for the Environmental Service Committee (ESC) by issuing a small fee associated with all students’ tuition. Wanting to carry on the true purpose of the club and the connection with the ESC, the name was changed to ECO in 2011.
Meitzen became ECO’s advisor in 2015 after leading nature hikes and getting involved with the club’s other activities. She loves witnessing student involvement with the environment through things like reusing and refilling bath product containers, fundraising and giving back to nonprofits and taking on the adopt-a-spot cleanup events head-on with no hesitation.
“They never complain … I’m just super impressed by like, their attitudes … they’re just always so eager to help clean up the environment and get back … they’re just really neat,” Meitzen said.
Once a student has joined the organization, not only can they take part in fun social events such as potlucks, bonfires, Discord game nights and camping trips, but students can also receive an ECO scholarship. Funded by the Department of Geography, the scholarship is awarded annually to a member who stands out to ECO’s officers and who goes above and beyond with helping the community.
ECO President and previous scholarship winner Maylin Green, a geography resource and environmental studies senior, has been a member of the organization since the fall of 2020. She discovered the club on the student organization website after she transferred to Texas State. She was a member of an environment club similar to ECO in high school called the Youth Environmental Society and was eager to find an organization like it in college.
“It’s a really great place to meet people who are really sweet … that just want to give back to the community. [Students can find people] who care … about giving back to the earth. It’s been a really lovely experience for me to get to volunteer with people,” Green said.
Since joining ECO, Green has enjoyed making friends who have similar interests to her own. She became the organization’s president in December and has implemented an educational aspect in the club, providing students with more information on the environment through guest speakers, workshops and tours of recycling centers.
“I think today’s generation, we have to be the change that we want to see. So, by educating college students, and creating a community of like-minded individuals that are going to help the environment, we’re making the right changes for [a] more sustainable future,” Green said.
Members have participated in service activities like adopt-a-spot cleanups in which they chose spots around San Marcos to clean, river cleanups through kayak campaigns and have completed yard work and gardening for a local master gardener named Rasmey Mau.
Mau, Green said, is a local organic gardener who participates in the weekly farmers’ market on the Square. ECO members volunteer once a month to help out on her farm.
Public Relations Manager Athena Morgan, an environmental science and geography resources junior, has been a member of ECO since the beginning of her sophomore year. She said her favorite part about ECO is gardening since not many people have the opportunity to learn how to do it.
“I’m just super into the environment in general … I was looking for a club that had more impact, like a club that like, actually went out and constantly did good things for the environment, which is kind of what I want to do with my life … the cleanups attracted me because I hate litter,” Morgan said.
Besides reaping the educational benefits of being a member of ECO, Morgan said she enjoys the tight-knit community that revolves around her passion and love of the environment.
“I’ve got to have a second home at ECO like always kind of felt like I could just go there, and I would be surrounded by people who had, like, the same interests … [ECO has] benefited me. It has become kind of a family,” Morgan said.
ECO members meet once a month on Tuesdays, although meeting attendance is not required to stay in the organization. To join, students pay $15 per semester to participate in social events, but there is no payment required to participate in service events.
Last spring, ECO had 20 members in the club. Since then, they have grown dramatically, with over 300 students active in the club’s Discord and over 100 students paying dues and participating in club activities. The pandemic helped the organization gain new members since students were eager to be involved with a group and wanted to participate in outdoor activities.
Maddie Kinerd, a psychology junior and ECO’s outreach officer, joined the organization last semester after seeing it in the Quad. Kinerd became an ECO officer after her friends moved into leadership positions too.
“I think it’s an easy way to make friends. And it teaches you a lot about how you can be sustainable. Just doing simple tasks like not using plastic straws or using reusable bags, and it’s a really easy way to learn about that stuff while you’re making friends at the same time,” Kinerd said.
Green hopes that students understand the importance of helping the environment through community service and the realization that even small changes like recycling can have a big effect on the environment. When more people get involved in making a difference, she said, the more significant the outcome will be.
In the future, ECO looks to expand its reach to more students, implement additional educational opportunities and host new service events like river diving in which they will dive into the San Marcos rivers to collect trash.
For more information about ECO, visit https://txstateeco.wixsite.com/txsteco or @txstate.eco on Instagram.

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  • Members of ECO pick up tree brush on Rasmey Mau’s farm.

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