On April 15, 2014, three USF Department of Hospitality Management students, Amanda Bush, Dive Bujazan and Jessica Peterson, attended the IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum at the Green Meeting Industry Council’s (GMIC) Sustainable Meetings Conference in San Francisco, for the opportunity to network with industry leaders and increase their knowledge and understanding of sustainable issues and impact from a global perspective. Amanda, Dive, and Jessica were selected based upon their class standing, their experience with meeting and event planning classes, and due to their roles as ambassadors for the USF Department of Hospitality Management.
The Future Leaders Forum is a year-round program that is jointly run by IMEX, Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and MCI. The objective of the forum is to give students currently studying for degrees in hospitality, tourism and event management the opportunity to increase their practical knowledge of the industry from a global perspective, identify future career paths and challenge conventional thinking and practices within the industry. This year’s forum focused on sustainability practices and GMIC, a non-profit organization and a leading resource on sustainability whose mission is to “transform the global meetings industry through sustainability” assisted in educating the hospitality students on sustainable best practices.
Jessica Peterson shared, “this conference was a refresher of the material covered in the course Greening the Hospitality Industry, and it also made me aware of the new trends that are happening in our industry. Sustainability is becoming increasingly important to guests. Many expect our industry to already be using these environmental practices.”
At the event, Maggie Osdahl, a representative from the Aquarium of the Bay - which works to protect, restore and inspire the conservation of San Francisco Bay and its watershed - discussed the importance of sustainable fishing and menu planning as a tool to protect our oceans. Michelle Millar, USF Department of Hospitality Management professor, accompanied the students and helped organize the forum. Millar explained the immense learning opportunity of this event, “Not only did the students learn about sustainable fishing from Maggie, they also learned the value of compostable versus biodegradable meeting waste; the importance of sustainable practices in all aspects of meeting planning; and, the necessity of giving back to their local communities.”
The morning started off with a hosted breakfast at Fog Harbor Fish House at Pier 39, which serves only seafood approved by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program. The participating students also had the opportunity to visit RethinkWaste Environmental Center located in San Carlos, CA. RethinkWaste is a leader in the delivery of innovative waste reduction and recycling programs. The organization receives all of the recyclables, organics, and garbage collected from twelve public agencies in San Mateo County. The tour included viewing (literally) tons of garbage, and witnessing firsthand the processes of waste management. Amanda Bush describe the tour’s impact, “Seeing all of that waste was overwhelming. It allowed us to personally connect with the seriousness of the environmental issues we face as future industry leaders.”
“Through this experience, we learned of the resources required to start our journey toward a more sustainable future,” Amanda explained.