Challenge Winners Shine at the Sustainable Growth Commission

Planning Assistance in Action

Some of the most creative approaches to sustainability are not originating in local planning departments, state offices, or even the nonprofit world, but from Maryland’s students. On Monday, March 25, the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission (Commission) celebrated the excellent work of four groups of students in the award ceremony for the 2019 Sustainable Growth Challenge.

“The work of the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission is fulfilling, vital, and impactful,” said Commission Chair Susan Summers. “I take my role as its Chair very seriously, but I have the most fun each year when college students from around the state present their award winning projects to the Commission. You can tell they take their work and studies very seriously as well. The day inspires greater enthusiasm in our effort as an advisory body, and encourages us to maintain and strengthen our engagement with the next generation of Maryland’s leaders in sustainability.”

The Sustainable Growth Challenge is a program that engages Maryland college students in developing creative solutions to sustainability while also providing a career-building, real world learning experience. The challenge is an interdisciplinary exercise promoting economic growth, environmental stewardship and sustainable land use at the community level.

All students attending a Maryland college, along with their professors, are eligible to submit entries for consideration, though they must represent student driven work. Projects focus on sustainable investment in Maryland’s communities, while concentrating on economic opportunity, environmental protection and social justice. On February 12, student groups from around Maryland presented plans, story maps, development proposals, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) applications to the Commission’s Education Workgroup, which had an incredibly difficult time selecting the winners. In the end, the Commission is proud to announce that the winners of the 2019 Sustainable Growth Challenge:

Franklin Square Neighborhood Plan (Morgan State University) The mission statement developed by the students describes the plan as seeking “to revive the Franklin Square Community’s collective spirit by identifying and strengthening key components for safety and prosperity.”

Christy Bernal, Justin Fair, Washina Ford, Kshitiz Gurung, Alexander Pianim, April Smith, and Sha’Von Terrell

Applied Sustainability Practicum (St. Mary’s College) A student developed website highlighting sustainability, outreach, and education efforts both on and off the St. Mary’s College campus

Kaitlin Aaby, Toby Beauregard, Haley Brueckman, Dylan Burgevin, Allison Burnett, Amanda Cox, Mariah Dean, Afton Hauer, Spencer Kessinger, Emmett Mayberry, Tilghman Meiser, Isaac Page, Jacob Rosenzweig-Stein, Samuel Tyson-Brown, Hannah Warlick, Nick Williams, and Ava Yensan

Growing Excellence: Using Nature to Cultivate Academic Excellence at Prince George’s County Schools (University of Maryland) Landscape architecture designs for bringing nature onto the grounds of Prince George’s County’s Suitland High School and William Hirt Middle School.

Marquise Barnes, Olivia Dudley, Samuel Ehrlich, Allison Fields, Catherine Garcia, Rachel Greenhawk, Maria Harrington, Jovon Jackson, Mia Manning, Heyner Pajaro, and Ryan Young

Streambank and Road Erosion in Harford County (University of Maryland). A GIS application for identifying and ranking roadways in Harford County for their susceptibility to erosion.

Alexander Bailor, Narges Borumand, Ellen Kortesoja, Elena Perry, Luke Savonis, and G. Trey Miller

The final projects and presentations will be posted on the Commission’s webpage soon, and the students will be invited to present at other planning events and conferences in Maryland in 2019. To learn more about the Sustainable Growth Challenge and how Maryland college and university students can get involved, contact Joe Griffiths at or 410-767-4553.

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