The Environmental Technology Student Organization creates a sense of family in a demanding program

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The old adage says that if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together. This year, the members of the Environmental Technology Student Organization (ETSO) proved this sentiment true time and time again. Under the leadership of its 2023/24 executives, ETSO served as a steadfast source of emotional and educational support for students in one of SAIT’s most demanding programs.

Environmental Technology requires students to complete 33 courses to earn 60 credits across the two-year program, which averages out to 8.25 courses each semester. “The only way to get through this program is to be a family,” says Jessica Stewart, Co-President of ETSO. “If someone needs support, we need to make sure they have someone to talk to.”

students sitting on floor smiling
ETSO Executive; left to right: Jessica Stewart, Sarah Keller, Matt Ecclestone, Michelle Mount and Teri-lee Lundquist

Stewart helmed ETSO along with her Co-President Michelle Mount and their three executives, Sarah Keller, Matthew Ecclestone and Teri Lundquist — all 2024 graduates of SAIT’s Environmental Technology program. The organization was responsible for organizing regular events for members — including a blockbuster Industry Night — but their dedication to the students went far beyond club-related activities.

“Michelle and Jess weren’t just the presidents of the club, they were presidents of our program,” says Keller. “In the group chat we had for all the students, we could always count on them to give us reminders about when an assignment was due or what sections the next test was on. They saved us many times with their updates.”

Stewart and Mount credit their ability to provide that level of support to the care they received, in turn, from their fellow students. “You do need to be really organized,” says Mount.

“But it comes back to being a family,” Stewart adds. “Michelle and I were able to focus on the organizational aspects because we trusted that our ETSO members and peers were taking responsibility for other things. I could rely on people to help out with something as simple as grabbing my lab book from an exam if I forgot it.”

One of the leadership team’s proudest accomplishments was pulling off the Environmental Technology Industry Night in November, three months before it’s typically held. While organizing the event, the ETSO executives faced several hurdles, including managing their midterm exams amidst planning activities.

Having never organized an event of that size before, Mount, Stewart and the executives successfully hosted 59 students and 65 faculty and industry professionals at the White Diamond Conference Centre. They rounded up five companies to sponsor the event — the most sponsors to participate in an ETSO Industry Night in the club’s history. Mount also took special care to ensure that the catering for those with dietary restrictions was excellent.

“Food is such a social thing and going to an event where you feel left out can put a huge damper on the rest of the night,” she says. “It was really important that everyone enjoyed themselves.”

In recognition of the ETSO team’s remarkable reliability and the close-knit family atmosphere they created in the Environmental Technology program, the organization has received a 2024 President’s Student Leadership Award.

“The club has been around for a long time and being recognized with the award in our year is indescribable,” says Mount. “After spending so much time dedicated to the program on top of a heavy course load, getting the award feels like we’ve truly accomplished something great.”

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