The SMU Environmental Society picked up trash during a "Hippy Hike" at Elm Fork Greenbelt last fall. Photos courtesy of the club.

March 2, 2015

By Rita Cook

Environmental awareness is growing across local campuses and for over a decade, Southern Methodist University in Dallas has had its own student organization broadcasting the green message. 

The SMU Environmental Society is a student-run organization that educates students about ways to live an environmentally sustainable life while having a good time and building friendships.

Organization president Wendy Alyea says that the group began in 1999 and attracts a variety of students who want to promote environmental initiatives on and near campus.

“We have a lot of environmental majors like earth sciences, environmental engineering, environmental law, but the club is open to everyone,” Alyea says. “Those that do not go into an environmental field of work later on continue to participate in environmental acts like gardening and Earth Day Dallas.”  

Right, SMU Environmental Society members tend a community garden plot.

The group aims to connect students to the Dallas community and surrounding areas through events like group hikes, gardening and community service. They even offer a free shuttle to White Rock Local Market, which is funded by one of the SMU members.

“We have 'Hippy Hikes' at least once a semester [where] we pick a forest and help improve the area by picking up trash, weeding, clearing debris and then have lunch,” says Alyea.

Recently the group also went to Trinity River Audubon Center and worked in the butterfly garden and participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count. Last year they were at the Great Trinity Forest picking up trash with Groundwork Dallas.

“Barefoot on the Boulevard is our big environmental festival in April hosting performers, SMU environmental clubs and local environmental vendors,” says Alyea. “We have education games at the booths along with free food and shirts for the SMU and surrounding community. And we are starting monthly documentary screenings on the boulevard, and this month is the Story of Stuff.” 

The group is also partnering with the Environmental Representatives on campus for Recyclemania to help promote recycling on campus. And they just did a tie-dye event with the Chemistry Society.

Left, SMU Environmental Society members clean up litter at the Elm Fork Greenbelt.

The group is also planning to host speakers and attend conferences in the future too.

“The hardest part for our club has always been getting people to pay attention and care about the environment,” says Alyea. “I believe especially from our past tabling events and Barefoot, people are starting to pay attention. We participate in homecoming banner and [mascot poster] painting, usually only done by larger organizations, showcasing an environmental theme every time. We've met people around Dallas that want us to talk to kids at their school about the environment.” 

Overall, the group’s mission statement and purpose from its constitution reads: “To protect the environment by preserving the natural ones and improving industrialized ones through education of members and the population at large, specifically the SMU student body, development and implementation of environmentally friendly techniques and technology, and discussion of environmental issues in an open setting.”

With about 10 regular attendees and 50 people signed up on the website mailing list, the group holds meetings every Thursday at 7p.m. in Portico E located in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center. 

Above, ES members join in campus-wide poster painting activities. Below, Meaghan Shaw and ES president Wendy Alyea hand out educational literature.

There is also have a community garden and aquaponics projects beginning in the spring. 

“We want this club to be fun and try to incorporate any type of environmental activity the group is interested in,” said Alyea. 

For more information on the SMU Environmental Society, email:


SMU Environmental Society

SMU Environmental Society Facebook page.

Rita Cook is an Arlington-based award-winning journalist who writes or has written for the Dallas Morning News, Focus Daily News, Waxahachie Daily Light, Dreamscapes Travel Magazine, Porthole, Core Media, Fort Worth Star Telegram and many other publications in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. With five books published, her latest release is “A Brief History of Fort Worth” published by History Press. Contact her at

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