Panther Initiative for Environmental Equity and Resilience (PIEER)

PIEER creates a partnership between UNI students, sustainability faculty, and the Recycling Reuse Technology Transfer Center (RRTTC) to deliver educational and engagement projects in the areas of environmental equity issues (justice and diversity) and environmental resiliency (sustainability). Current interns include Julie Grunklee, Kelsey Ewald, and Kaila Pancheco. 

PIEER will work with schools, UNI centers, and community organizations to provide educational awareness activities that can bring about new insights and understandings of environmental equity and resilience issues. The overall goal is to increase awareness about issues between rural and urban Iowans that will encourage engaged populations to consider positive changes. 

Topics may include lead, radon, arsenic, or other little known environmental hazards in the home or community. PIEER will also focus on lack of access to healthier food choices, community gardens, gathering unused seasonal fruits and vegetables for the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, and making these changes sustainable to benefit future generations.

To request help with educational programming or suggest an initiative, please contact Julie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Past Events:

PIEER presenting about social justice, equity, resilience, and environmental factors to the advisory committee.


PIEER group had the opportunity to work with the Campus Consciousness Tour and Nate Ruess.


PIEER interns presented at the Governor's Conference on Public Health.


PIEER participated at the African American Children’s and Family Conference held at UNI’s Schindler Education Center with a display and interactive recycling activity.   


 PIEER interns set up a booth at the Disaster Readiness Fair at UNI.


Tabling at the Maucker Union to get students engaged in environmental equity and resilience.


PIEER interns educated Gladbrook-Reinbeck High School students about lead safety.


PIEER interns helped Hoover Middle School students make disaster-ready kits.


Robert Ping gave walkability tours in the Downtown Waterloo area.



Certificate in Sustainability

A Certificate in Sustainability is now available to students at UNI.  The course, “Introduction to Sustainability” is the required basic course for the Certificate. Electives can be chosen in numerous content areas, including courses offered in the College of Humanities, Arts, and Sciences; College of Social & Behavioral Sciences; and College of Education. Fifteen credit hours are needed for the Certificate, including the Introductory course. For more information please contact: Catherine Zeman: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (tel.) 273­-7090

Sustainability Certificate: Overview and Requirements 

Student Engagement Opportunities

Student Application

As an undergraduate or graduate student, the RRTTC can provide you with opportunities to enhance your classroom experiences through research projects, outreach programs and internships working with members of the Iowa business and industry community. We are looking for motivated students who are interested in being actively involved with our outreach programs. All majors are encouraged to get involved. There are many ways that you can show you care about the environment. Below are just a few of the ways on campus you can get involved with the movement to go green!

Graduate Assistantship Position


Graduate Assistantship (Doctoral) Position


University of Northern Iowa Health/Science Club


Environmental Health Certificate


Northern Iowa Energy Corps


Green Project UNI




Student Nature Society


UNI Solar Panthers Club


UNI Outdoor Recreation

Department of Residence Recycles!
One of the easiest ways to get involved starts in your room. This year the department of residence has started providing free recycling bins to all rooms for anyone living on campus or in the ROTH housing complex. There are also rooms in each building with different bins for plastics, papers, and glass. Using your recycling bin is one of the easiest ways to make a change for the better!


Donate Your Books!
University Book and Supply offers students another way to be good to the environment with their book donation program. This program is for students to donate gently used textbooks that no longer have any value. Books are accepted throughout the year and go toward the cause of global literacy. For more information about donations contact University Book and Supply at 319-266-7581.


Panther Pick-Up!
Panther Pick-Up is a program that started on campus to meet the need of students as they prepare to leave campus. This event is held in the spring and is a good way for students to get rid of things they would normally throw away. Panther Pick-Up accepts usable items such as mattresses, running shoes, books, and carpet. These items are then donated to local charitable organizations. Last year Panther Pick-Up collected 11,340 pounds of household and personal items, almost double the amount of the previous year. This event is not only a good way to lighten your load, but it’s also a great opportunity to do something good for the environment and help others at the same time. For more information about volunteering or the program please contact Kathy Green at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 319-273-6921.


Creekside Harmony Garden
You can get involved with our community and educational garden. Click on the link to see the garden's latest progress and how the development process is coming along. To volunteer or learn how you can help with this exciting new opportunity, contact:


Jenny Bruss: Outreach and Programing
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Off Campus Opportunities

Cedar Falls Community Garden
Anyone interested in gardening can contact the Cedar Falls Community Garden at www.cfcommunitygarden.org and sign up for their newsletter for information on how to be involved. The garden can also be contacted on Facebook by looking up their page.

Hartman Reserve Nature Center
The Hartman Reserve Nature Center is always looking for volunteers to help with various tasks around the reserve such as lying woodchips on the paths and sapping maple syrup later in the year. There are many ways you can help at the reserve and more information is available on the website .

Tallgrass Prairie Center
Anyone interested in restoration and preservation of prairie vegetation can contact the Tallgrass Prairie Center for opportunities to volunteer. To contact the Tallgrass Prairie Center call 319-273-2238.

For more information about student opportunities with the RRTTC contact:
Jenny Bruss
Program & Community Outreach Coordinator
CEEE 113
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614-0184
Phone: (319)273-3689
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.