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A Green Way of Life
Photos and Story by James Hill
Even as a child Yvonne Norman was environmentally conscious.
As a spunky 9-year-old, she organized a massive neighborhood cleanup where she and her buddies collected trash in wheelbarrows. They unloaded all the garbage in her driveway where her father was kind enough to haul it off to the dump.
Some four decades later her concern for the community continues and she’s taking the Rock Creek Campus by storm as the student government association’s new director of campus ecology. She’s making it easier for students and staff to buy Green Tags to offset carbon dioxide output, determining how much carbon the college district emits, researching ways the student center can operate on solar or wind power and looking at how food waste on campus could be reduced. She also started the Rock Creek Green Team.
“I guess I’ve always been green, that’s just who I am,” said Norman, an Oregon native.
She took classes at Sylvania in her early 20s where she studied botany but then put school on hold as she and her husband raised four children, teaching them about recycling, composting and organic food. She enrolled at Rock Creek in 2005 and now takes child development classes. She hopes to someday teach elementary school children reading, writing and math lessons as well as ways to keep the planet environmentally safe.
She got involved with the Associated Students of PCC after a classmate already in student government asked for help. Her first response: “Are you sure you want someone as old as me in student government?”
The answer was a resounding “yes!”
“Yvonne brings passion, maturity and an incredible work ethic to the group. When she commits to a project, it gets done and it’s done well,” said Mandy Ellertson, Rock Creek’s student leadership coordinator. “Yvonne truly believes that each individual can make a difference and help resolve the global climate crisis. She is able to provide the necessary leadership to encourage others to take just the smallest of steps to be a part of the solution.”
This “tree hugger,” a name affectionately used by her son, is dedicated to protecting the environment. She carpools from her Hillsboro home to the campus each day with her daughter, also a PCC student. Feeling guilty about driving the 20 miles roundtrip she purchased three Green Tags which will buy wind and solar power to help offset the pollution her car emits during the commute. She is such an advocate of the Green Tags sold through the Bonneville Environmental Foundation that she started a program where students can purchase the $10 stickers on campus.
She’s part of a team of students pushing to reduce carbon emissions at the district’s three comprehensive campuses and the Southeast Center. The goal is to lower the number by 30 percent by 2020.
“So far everyone has been supportive and the faculty and staff have been helpful,” she said. “My kids are grown and no one is at home, so going to school, volunteering with student government and working on these environmental initiatives is exactly what I want to do.”