Get informed: Sustainable Waco Conference coming soon!

By Melissa Mullins

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or in a cave (no judgement if you do), you probably hear quite a bit of talk, at least in the public sphere, about climate change.  You may have heard it come up in politics.  You may have heard your neighbor say he doesn’t believe in it.  You may hear it invoked when there’s threats of bigger, badder weather events.  You may, if you are like me, sometimes feel overwhelmed by it all.

The truth is, both government and industry scientists have known for over 50 years that carbon dioxide levels are increasing in our atmosphere, that the increase is due to human activity, and that this will have impacts on the Earth’s climate system*.  And most Americans now believe this to be true.  Recent research shows that we are not a nation of climate deniers, but we are a nation of climate avoiders.  Because we think it’s too big, we can’t do anything about it, we just avoid it.  Most Americans don’t discuss global warming with their friends and family, and many reasons are given in surveys for why this is:  it doesn’t come up, they think everybody already agrees, or conversely, are not interested in it, it is too political, or people feel like they don’t know enough to talk about it.

How can we avoid avoidance?  Michael Smyer suggests that we picture a place that we care about, picture it being affected by climate change or extreme weather as well as how we’d like it to look in 50 years, then think about something we can do NOW to work towards our desired future vision.  It’s that last part that’s hard sometimes.  One thing that you can do TODAY is register for the Sustainable Waco conference, which will be held Monday August 5th.

The McLennan Community College Sustainability Committee, with support from Waco Friends of Peace-Climate and Baylor University-Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research, has been hard at work organizing Waco’s first ever community-wide conference on climate and sustainability that is open to everyone, and YOU are invited.  Conference organizer Michaela McCown says the reason for having the conference is so that our entire community can become more sustainable.  “We want to help people understand that there are lots of things individuals can do, and actions that communities can take, to make a difference in saving money, helping our planet, and making Waco a better place to live.”

The conference is only $15 to attend which includes lunch, and CPE credits are available for educators.  Speakers from Waco and other communities in Texas will give presentations on a wide variety of sustainability topics, including recycling, city-wide composting, solar for residential use, of course climate change, and many others.  To register, call 254-299-8888 or go to and search “Sustainable Waco”.  You can also find the event on Facebook for all the latest updates.

* Check out “Losing Earth:  The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change” by Nathaniel Rich- it’s at the Waco-McLennan Co. Library, engagingly written, fascinating and infuriating.

Melissa Mullins coordinates education and outreach at Baylor’s aquatic research center.  She serves on the Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) USA Network Council, which has recently developed climate change education resources for K-12 audiences.  Water and climate are intricately linked!  The views expressed here are solely those of the author.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.

Women United Partners with MCC Foundation to Award Scholarships to Underserved Women

Press release – July 19, 2019 –The United Way of Waco-McLennan County (UWWMC) is pleased to announce its affinity group, Women United, has awarded scholarships to two female graduates from the Adult Literacy and Education Heart of Texas. Both recipients are working mothers pursuing nursing degrees at McLennan Community College.  

“Women United mobilizes a diverse network of women in McLennan County to strengthen the community by investing in local programs that enable women to achieve their goals and positively impact their lives,” said Women United Waco Chair Kris Kaiser Olson. “Money raised by Women United through membership dues and fundraising events provides funding to support education scholarships for women.”

Data from the Global Partnership for Education shows educating women has a multiplier effect. According to research, educated women tend to be healthier, earn more income, and provide better health care for themselves their children. These benefits also are transmitted from generation to generation and across communities at large, making  women’s education one of the best investments a community can make. 

Women United scholarship funds are managed in partnership with the McLennan Community College Foundation. MCC Foundation staff will manage the disbursement of the scholarship funds for the recipients to oversee tuition payment, books, uniform and equipment purchases as needed. Any remainder of the scholarship will be available to the student through an emergency grant application for unexpected barriers.

“This partnership is breaking new ground for us at the MCC Foundation,” said Executive Director Kim Patterson. “Our Adult Education students have shown tremendous perseverance and are perfectly suited to succeed in college. With this new funding from Women United, we can now provide scholarship support for these women, giving them the opportunity to change the social and economic trajectory for their entire family.”

The Adult Education and Literacy program provides English language, math, reading, writing and workforce training instruction to help adult students acquire the skills needed to succeed in the workforce, earn a high school equivalency certificate, and enter and succeed in college or workforce training.  

“Attaining your GED as an adult and pursuing college can seem like a daunting task for women already juggling busy lives,” said Adult Education and Literacy Transition Specialist Michelle Telg. “Scholarships like the Women United Scholarships help traditionally underserved students overcome the barriers that keep them from an education to better their lives and the lives of their families.”

As an integral part of UWWMC, Women United is committed to creating an effective female-driven philanthropic force to improve life for women in McLennan County. The Waco Chapter is part of a growing, global network of women leaders, over 70,000 strong across more than 165 communities in six countries.

The work of Women United Waco is aligned with UWWMC’s Impact Framework, by providing women with access to education and job skills training needed to obtain a sustainable job and increase their family’s financial stability and economic status.

Scholarship recipients will also participate in financial literacy training classes taught in partnership with First National Bank of Central Texas. Participants will receive customizable financial literacy training based on their personal needs and financial interests.

For more information about Women United Waco, visit