Sustainability Superheroes Features Industry Panel Discussing Sustainable Business Practices with Educators

Sustainable manufacturing is an objective that many companies are adopting as an essential part of their operations, which is making an impactful difference for the environment. Design, production, shipping and all other aspects within the manufacturing process must be examined from a sustainable perspective. This also improves the safety of employees, products and communities as a whole. Everyone is affected in some way, which is why the Sustainability Superheroes project brought manufacturing to the classroom for the May 7th workshop.
Dr. Deborah Kozdras, Chief Creative Officer of the USF Stavros Center, partnered with Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of the Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE), to host a panel of business and industry professionals with experience in the manufacturing industry for the workshop. Educators were able to learn how companies integrate habits and practices that are environmentally friendly into the core of their operations. “It’s so important for educators to hear directly from industry.  Educators are really hungry to know more about industry, how and where other non-educator people work, and what skills they need “, says Dr. Barger. FLATE and the USF Stavros Center have a long-standing partnership focused on providing professional development workshops for secondary educators in all disciplines that specifically highlight manufacturing professionals in the greater Tampa Bay area.
Below are highlights from the panelists. This project plans to recapture the comments of the panelists as well as other industry representatives in a series of audio clips that will be posted on both FLATE’s and Stavros Center’s websites.  Be on the lookout for these videos starting this fall!
*Pictured from left to right: Dr. Marilyn Barger, Patti Gander, Jerrika Rice, Suzanne Alverez, Peter Cirak

Patti Gander - Executive Director for the Manufacturing and Supply Chain Alliance
Patti demonstrated a great example of design thinking and an open mindset. Using traditional business analysis practices, like Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing, Patti illustrated how businesses can profit from sustainable practices, which ultimately have positive impacts on the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit.

Jerrika Rice - Senior Manager, Phosphates Quality for The Mosaic Company
Jerrika provided the educators with a deeper understanding of the challenges The Mosaic Company faces and the ways in which they are working toward more sustainable practices. By describing the complexities of the issues, Jerrika provided some excellent problem-solution examples.

Suzanne Alverez - Sales for C&D Printing & Packaging
Suzanne described the sustainability challenges and solutions within C&D Printing and Packaging. Beginning with one employee’s question about the toxicity of the processes, the company is continually evolving to more environmentally safe products and procedures.

Peter Cirak - Director of Quality Assurance for Seal Dynamics
Peter illustrated his passion for creating solutions in the workplace at Seal Dynamics. During Tuesday evening’s session, he described the recycling programs he initiated and stood as a model for how one person can work toward changing the ways in which things have always been done. 

​Sustainability Superheroes is a project that helps K-12 educators teaching all subjects and grade levels to incorporate sustainability into their lesson plans. The Gus A. Stavros Center for Free Enterprise and Economic Education partnered with the University of South Florida’s Patel College for Global Sustainability to provide workshops, new training and guest lectures to teachers across Tampa Bay. The goal of this project is to educate students about sustainability problems that need to be fixed and inspire them to act and make a positive impact on the world.  The USF Stavros Center received a grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation for this project. Sustainability Superheroes will provide related resources to the Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota school districts, which together serve over 550,000 students annually.

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