September 24, 2020

A Passion for Sustainability


Shanvanth Arnipalli, a junior on the Ohio State fencing team, has a passion for sustainability.

A member of the sabre squad, Arnipalli, from New Albany, Ohio, and a New Albany High School graduate, has earned Honorable Mention All-Midwest Fencing Conference accolades and Ohio State Scholar-Athlete recognition.

Outside of fencing, Arnipalli is a member of Member of LEAFS (Leadership of Environmental Athletes For Sustainability). He took a few minutes to talk about the group, how he became involved in sustainability efforts and more.

How did you get involved with Sustainability at Ohio State, and with LEAFS?

Sustainability was something that I have been passionate about since moving to the States from India back in 2008. I would try my best to get involved in any and all environmental issues and events. When I entered university, I saw Ohio State has so many amazing programs for sustainability and I fell in love with the School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR). I was able to pursue a pre-medical pathway along with a degree in SENR. Now, I am third-year student-athlete majoring in environmental molecular science. My research work and focus are in biomedical nutrition and developmental psychology, which is great because the environment plays a big role in both of these fields.

With regards to LEAFS, I personally believe that now more than ever, sustainability is a major concern for all. To me, sustainability means building a greener, cleaner and a better future for many more generations to come. Practices for sustainability on a large and diverse campus, such as Ohio State, were always fascinating. When I competed at the 2017 Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Inaugural Teen Eco Summit, there were multiple speakers who presented various practices that are continuing to take place on campus, especially at the football stadium. Since then I have had much respect for the athletics and sustainability programs the university offers. Being an environmental science major, my values lie with my core belief of sustainability being the key to a prosperous and fruitful future; what we save now will be what saves us in the future. Merging sustainability with athletics, combined with its outreach and influence, can make major marks on healthy environmental practices that could take place on campus. Thus, when I was approached by Ms. Cassidy Jenney [a sustainability associate in the Ohio State Department of Athletics/Business Advancement], I was very enthusiastic about being a part of the LEAFS executive board and building this organization from the ground up.

What are your goals with the organization?

Our mission statement is, “We as the LEAFS cohort want to use our platform to raise awareness about sustainability through informative education, professional development and growth, and facilitated project work.”

Moreover, our organization is built from ground up by student-athletes for student-athletes! We want to incorporate sustainability into Ohio State’s culture.

A sustainability initiative I would like to implement is the composting plan I designed for my high school. We could closely work with dining halls to design a revised system to divert solid waste that ends up in the landfill. In terms of project ideas, we could extend the invitation for student organizations to collaborate with athletics at our ongoing sustainability practices in our competitions. This collaboration will serve as a way for the campus students to be more involved in such sustainability practices and gain educational experience as to what it means to be eco-friendly. Another possibility is to bring in speakers to educate our peers as to what sustainability is and what it means for the future. We could also send student-athletes to local schools to speak about and spread our experiences and practices for sustainability.

How did you get interested in sustainability?

During my senior year of high school, I designed a composting initiative for my school campus, called ‘The Green District New Albany Plan.’ I researched and looked into what was necessary to implement such an initiative. In terms of data collection, I looked into the amount of solid waste generated overall by our school, garbage tipping fees, interviews with other schools which already have a composting system in place and how much solid waste I could potentially divert with my plan. To address the practicality and bring this initiative to life, I submitted a grant proposal to SWACO and received around $2,500 to fund my project. I also competed in the 2017 Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Inaugural Teen Eco Summit, where I had the privilege to present my project in front of a blue-ribbon panel. I placed first and received $500 to fund my project. With the funding secured, I finished my composting initiative plan and submitted it to the school board. After receiving approval from the school board, I was able to build a composting system for my school.

What are your career goals?

After graduation, I would like to pursue research abroad for at least a year before attending graduate school or medical school.

If anyone is interested in joining LEAFS please email