Students travel to Nashville to volunteer with NFL Environmental Program

Penn State students help visitors recycle and compost at NFL Draft, meet with NFL leaders to discuss careers

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Twenty-one Penn State students traveled to the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tennessee, between April 24 and 29 to help visitors reduce waste and promote sustainability through the NFL Environmental Program.

Penn State students volunteered to help visitors reduce waste at the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tennessee, at the end of April.  Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Applicants from the Smeal College of Business and the Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management program in the College of Health and Human Development were selected for the trip, which was made possible by grant funding from Penn State’s Student Engagement Network and support from the Sustainability Institute.

"The students brought exceptionally positive attitudes, a hard work ethic, and an intense curiosity to the trip, which was one of the best I’ve been on in my 12-year career in higher education,” said Doug Goodstein, associate director for student engagement at the Sustainability Institute.

Over the course of three days, students interacted directly with fans and provided guidance as they disposed of their trash. Some stood beside trash bins to help fans sort their composting, recycling and waste, while others roamed the event and handed out pins and hats to individuals who were spotted recycling properly. The students were originally scheduled to help for four to six hours on Thursday and Sunday, but the group willingly picked up an extra shift on Friday when another volunteer group was unable to attend.

“I enjoyed people’s pleasant reactions when caught recycling more than anything,” said Penn State student Devin Nowacki. “It was great getting to meet people from all over the country while encouraging recycling. I believe we made an impact on many people’s lives, and I look forward to using all the I’ve learned as I further my knowledge and career.”

The students also engaged with various NFL leaders, including Jon Barker, vice president of operations for the NFL, and Jack and Susan Groh with the NFL Environmental Program, who generously offered their advice to students during 'fireside chat' sessions.

"The NFL draft experience provided me with valuable advice from industry leaders, who I would never have been able to speak to without this partnership,” noted student Kevin Juszynski. “My eyes were opened to many new career opportunities, and I look forward to promoting sustainability in whatever direction life takes me.”

The trip provided a remarkable learning opportunity for students, increased recycling efforts throughout the event, and provided fans with a positive, sustainability-related experience. Goodstein looks forward to working with partners to help the initiative continue to grow and benefit future students and fans.

Last Updated September 20, 2019