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Sam Merrett '05 Receives Humanitarian Award

Oberlin College senior Stephen (Sam) Merrett has been named a recipient of the 2005 Howard R. Swearer Student Humanitarian Award. The award, which is administered by National Campus Compact, recognizes five students each year for their outstanding public service and provides funds toward their continued efforts to address societal needs.

Merrett, an environmental studies major from East Nassau, New York, received the award for his role in Oberlin's Youth Energy Project (YEP). The student-run organization, which he co-founded with Avery Book '04, promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy sources by collaborating with community partners to raise funds and design energy conservation projects. Today YEP includes more than 30 volunteers from the College and community.

"Sam's commitment to community service and its linkage to academic work are exemplary, serious, and sustained," says Oberlin College President Nancy S. Dye, who nominated Merrett for this award. "His work truly reflects that of an active, engaged, and thoughtful citizen."

In addition to his work with YEP, Merrett has participated in a program to enhance the science curriculum at Oberlin's Langston Middle School and developed hands-on training activities for high school students, including a project teaching them how to measure and rate energy efficiency within a private residence. Most recently, Merrett has been active with "Biodiesel Oberlin," a project that strives to produce and burn biodiesel fuel to offset the local consumption of petroleum diesel.

"'Biodiesel Oberlin' uses a new, interactive technology to create fuel that will contribute to local sustainability," Merrett says. "Our mission is to educate, and to encourage local diesel users to consider biodiesel as an alternative fuel source."

Merrett plans to use the $1,500 award to expand Biodiesel Oberlin's community outreach programs, including a series of educational workshops for local residents and programming in the local schools. In addition, the money will ensure the local production, distribution, and consumption of alternative fuels in Oberlin.

The Howard R. Swearer Student Humanitarian Award, named after one of the founders of Campus Compact, is made possible by a grant from the Sallie Mae Fund.

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