Kathleen Moore has been a familiar face around the ETSU campus for a number of years, but even people who haven’t met her see signs of her work every day.
She came to ETSU in 1994 as the university’s first horticulturalist and began a beautification project on what was already a lovely campus, enhancing the landscape with more flowers and trees and managing their upkeep. Many of her touches are still seen around campus, and are continuously being expanded on by the current grounds crew.
And now, Moore is the first director of sustainability in ETSU’s Department of Facilities Management and was named the university’s 2014 Staff Woman of the Year for her efforts in that area.
Moore says she enjoys her work because sustainability is a “wide-open field” with a great deal of variety. Her job allows her to seek and implement ways to reduce the use of energy, water and other resources on campus to both save money and help the environment. She also has plenty of opportunities to educate the campus community on sustainability issues, even spending time chatting about the environment (among other topics) while knitting and crocheting with a group of students.
She has coordinated Alternative Fall Break service trips with the Student Organization Resource Center that involved educating student participants about food insecurity; formed and advises the student group EcoNuts; chairs the Campus Sustainability Fee Committee and oversees implementation of initiatives funded through the student fee, such as the organization of a campus community garden and installation of filtered water stations in various buildings; providing a workshop for faculty interested in integrating sustainability into their courses; planning sustainability-related film screenings and guest lectures; and more.
“I love just talking with students, faculty and staff about how they can really have a personal impact on the environment, whether good or bad, and just seeing that ‘light’ go on when they realize that they do have the power, with their own personal actions, to make a difference,” Moore said.
Moore’s work in the area of sustainability is actually her fourth career.
The Ohio native’s first career was dental hygiene after she graduated from Youngstown State University in 1979. After a few years in that field, she decided she wanted to see the world – particularly the Far East, because she had previously spent two years in Turkey working for a contractor and enjoyed learning about other cultures. So she joined the U.S. Air Force and, wishing to take on a role not traditionally held by women, she learned electronics and worked on nuclear missiles.
“But I didn’t get to see the world – I got to see South Dakota!” she laughs. “That was a cruel twist of fate, but I got to meet my husband!”
After the two left military service, they decided to further their education, and Kathleen chose to study horticulture at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. They later moved to Johnson City – her husband David’s hometown – for him to attend graduate school, and now both of them work at ETSU, with David serving as an admissions counselor/recruiter with the School of Graduate Studies.
“I love the atmosphere of learning we have here, and the opportunity to present ideas, promote those ideas and follow through,” Kathleen said. “I’m able to be creative and look at things in new ways, and act on that. It’s fun to come up with ways to connect with everyone, from the 18-year-old freshman to the professor emeritus who’s on campus four times a week.”