Mason’s lovable former mascot, Gunston, has taken on a new role this school year. As the university’s sustainability ambassador, the furry creature travels to local elementary schools to spread the word about environmentalism.
The university, in partnership with the National Energy Education Development  (NEED ) project, created an interactive environmental education program for children in kindergarten through third grade. Go Green with Gunston combines education and entertainment into a distinctive curriculum specifically aimed at teaching children the benefits of going green.
“We wanted to develop a way to connect with this particular age group to get them excited about science and sustainability, and Gunston was the ideal character for the job,” says Traci Claar, director of community relations at Mason.
Claar approached NEED executive director and Mason alumna Mary Spruill to help develop the program. “We wouldn’t have the high-quality program we now have without the help of Mary and her team,” says Claar.
Spruill, BA International Studies ’95 and MPA ’97, says, “The Go Green with Gunston outreach program was a perfect fit. It made sense to adapt our teacher-tested and student-approved lessons for Gunston to use in classroom visits. [Now] students in the program have a chance to learn more about energy while also learning many of the lessons on the Virginia Standards of Learning, too.”