UNI Panther Caucus

Welcome to the Panther Caucus, a group of alumni, students and friends working to increase public and legislative support for the University of Northern Iowa.  Periodic emails will be sent to Panther Caucus members about some of the great things happening at UNI. Sign up for the Panther Caucus mailings or follow Panther Caucus on Twitter through @nipanthercaucus.

April 17, 2014

UNI Hardwoods planting treesWhen Joshua Koppes first came to UNI in 2012, he struggled to balance his love of business with his desire to help the environment. So Koppes founded UNI Hardwoods, a student organization that promotes sustainability through a variety of initiatives. One of those initiatives is the group's annual tree planting project, which replaces trees that were damaged by the 2008 floods or that are infected by the emerald ash borer. Not only is this a great way to help the environment, it also gives UNIBusiness students a chance to apply their skills and learn about new business opportunities.

"I've always been aware of sustainability issues, but I thought one person couldn't make a difference," said Koppes, a senior business administration: global marketing major from Cascade, Iowa.

This year, 200 volunteers from the campus and surrounding community, came together to plant 6,500 trees on Saturday, April 12. That's more than double the trees planted at the inaugural event last year; earning them a rose from The Des Moines Register editorial board. This accomplishment is thanks to a number of students and organizations, including senior construction management major Riley Freilinger who introduced Koppes to Living Lands and Waters, the organization that donated trees to the project. Koppes says it's these personal connections that have helped the group grow so quickly.

"I think we're hitting to the heart of people. Once you get to the heart, then the options are endless."

UNI Hardwoods has a number of other projects and events in the works. The Save a Tree Program helps elementary and high school students get involved with sustainability initiatives. The Impact Hardwoods Mission addresses clean air and climate change by providing bikes to children who can't afford them and encouraging the use of alternative methods of transportation. Additionally, the group plans to host a Make a Difference (MAD) 5K and a "Save the Air, Ride a Bike" bicycle tour next year.

News & Events

UNI will host its annual Earth Day Celebration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday, April 22, outside Maucker Union. Stop by any of the 30 educational booths, get a free bike tune-up, play games and win some great prizes!