The agrochemical industry has perpetuated the myth of the 'perfectly manicured lawn' to sell poisons for decades. You know what we mean: nothing but grass and more grass as far as the eye can see. Millions of students are exposed everyday to pesticides linked to reproductive harm, neurotoxicity, and cancers in pursuit of an aesthetic that is part of a colonial history: a history that wipes away local ecosystems and native plant-life and replaces it with Eurupean turf-grasses.
Pesticide use has become a social, political, and legal issue as hundreds of thousands of lawsuits have been brought against manufacturers claiming deception of consumers and liability for terminal diagnoses. Many of the chemicals used on college campuses in the US are banned in other countries.
Pesticides also disrupt the delicate web of life that sustains our planet. They seep into the soil, contaminate water sources, harm beneficial insects, birds, and are life-threatening to humans.
But it doesn't have to be this way. Re:wild Your Campus is committed to disrupting these traditional, chemical-intensive methods of managing land, and we see universities as a starting point for our movement. It's time to break free of the agrochemical narrative, and to work with nature— not against it. Campuses across the nation are abandoning synthetic pesticides, prioritizing soil health, and reaping the rewards: beautiful campuses free of poisons.
We understand that creating more sustainable campus grounds requires a multifaceted approach, which is why we offer several solutions in addition to campus specific recommendations. Our Organic Pilot Program is for campuses looking to maximize the sustainability of their campus lawns. In undergoing our 2-3 year Organic Pilot Program, campus staff become well versed in organic practices and are able to manage campus green spaces without toxic pesticides employing practices that promote biodiversity, climate resilience, and water savings while achieving the same high quality aesthetic the campus community is used to. Our Rewilding Projects are for campuses that want to take the next step in their sustainable grounds journey and are looking to re-landscape lawns or underutilized areas of campus with native plants. If you're looking for an alternative to glyphosate based herbicides, help with controlling sidewalk cracks, or have a more site specific issue email us at email@example.com.
It's time to bid farewell to synthetic pesticides and chemical-laden fertilizers. At Re:wild Your Campus, we know that you can achieve pristine green grassy lawns and landscapes without the use of inputs that harm our bodies and our environment. Our science backed approach employs organic practices rooted in building soil health to create vibrant, resilient landscapes that save money and water while fighting climate change. By adopting soil-based organic practices, such as the application of compost teas and overseeding, we ensure the health of turf grasses, landscape beds, sports fields, and more, without compromising the aesthetic or the well-being of campus communities.
Our team of experts will guide you through this transformation, providing the knowledge and tools necessary to implement and maintain a synthetic pesticide and fertilizer free land care program. You can read about the benefits if implementing an organic system here.
We often start with a pilot program, several sites representative of the campus landscape that are used to train staff in organic practices. We've worked to initiate 10+ pilot projects and are rapidly expanding our pilot programs to campuses across the nation. Here’s how an organic pilot project works:
We work with you to identify suitable sites that are representative of the campus landscape
We provide support while you take soil samples and send them off to recommended labs for analysis
Our experts analyze the results of the soil samples to provide a unique, customized plan of action that will enhance soil health and help to eliminate reliance on synthetic inputs
As you implement the organic plan and begin to build up soil health, we engage students in the process and garner student support for this journey that your campus is embarking on
Through implementing the unique plan created by our experts, your team will gain the skills and knowledge necessary to implement organic land care on a larger scale and expand the pilot program, bringing organic land care to the rest of campus
Re:wild Your Campus also goes beyond the realm of organic land care by reimagining the very landscapes that shape our campuses. Working hand in hand with campus communities, we embark on rewilding projects that breathe new life into the environment. For example, students at Grinnell College spearheaded a project to rewild a 5,000 sq ft quad on campus with native prairie grasses, pictured below.
Through the strategic reintroduction of native plants, the restoration of natural habitats, and the creation of wildlife-friendly spaces, we transform manicured lawns or underutilized areas of campus into thriving ecosystems that support a multitude of species. Rewilding is the key to unlocking the potential for ecological restoration, biodiversity conservation, and a profound reconnection with nature.
Our approach inspires students, faculty, and staff to explore the wonders of nature. Together, we challenge the traditional notions of campus aesthetics and embrace the beauty of diverse, resilient landscapes.
Mackenzie Feldman and Bridget Gustafson co-founded what began as Herbicide-Free Campus at University of California, Berkeley in 2017. They showed up for beach volleyball practice one day to their coaches' cautions: If the ball rolled off the court, don’t chase it. Bridget and Mackenzie were shocked to learn that the area surrounding their court had been sprayed with Ranger Pro, a glyphosate-based product that is a risk to public and environmental health.
Bridget and Mackenzie knew the potentially catastrophic risks of being exposed to such chemicals, so they asked the Supervisor of Athletics Fields & Turf to end spraying by the courts, and in return, the team would pick the surrounding weeds. Since that day, Bridget and Mackenzie have made lasting, institutional change. The campaign spread across campus, and now UC Berkeley is 95% organic.
Mackenzie and Bridget were inspired to expand the campaign in 2019 after Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, a groundskeeper who developed cancer from spraying the same chemical, sued Monsanto. Herbicides were finally getting the attention they deserved, and Mackenzie and Bridget realized that there were countless Lee’s out there developing cancer because someone was telling them to spray a toxic chemical.
Students started reaching out asking how they could start similar campaigns at their schools, and the two decided that they needed to take this beyond UC Berkeley. Lee Johnson came on as an advisor and they launched Herbicide-Free Campus, to first inspire the entire UC system, and then campuses across the country, to rethink reliance on toxic herbicides in campus management, and to teach students how to lead this campaign.
In 2022 Herbicide-Free Campus joined Re:wild as a fiscally sponsored project, and rebranded to become Re:wild Your Campus. The movement has now spread coast to coast, driven by students, groundskeepers, and community members passionate about creating safer and healthier school campuses. Re:wild Your Campus has a goal of seeing every university in the U.S. eliminate synthetic pesticides and fertilizers by 2030, and will continue to empower students until every college campus in the country is ecologically safe. Dewayne “Lee” Johnson remains an active advisory board member today, and his story is at the heart of why we do what we do.
Director of Communications and Campaigns
Senior Strategy Advisor
Senior Advisor of Development
Senior Advisor of Strategic Partnerships
Anna Lappé / Executive Director / Executive Director, Global Alliance for the Future of Food
Bill Richardson / Deputy Executive Director / Greenpeace
Kathryn Gilje / Executive Director / CERES Trust
Gesina Beckert / Director of Research and Operations / Food for Climate League
Danner Doud-Martin / Associate Director / International Business Development at Berkeley Haas School of Business
Chip Osborne / President / Osborne Organics
Anim Steel / Director at Hau’oli Mau Loa Foundation
Dominica Navarro / Deputy Director /Organic Farming Research Foundation
Madeline Carretero / Major Gifts Development Officer / Greenpeace
Philip Stark / Professor of Statistics & Associate Dean of Mathematical and Physical Sciences / University of California, Berkeley
Melanie Feldman / Founder / Going Places
Dewayne “Lee” Johnson / Plaintiff in Johnson v. Monsanto trial
Shannon Britton / Grounds Manager / Seattle University
Philip Ackerman-Leist / Executive Director / Regen by Design
Annie Lu / Senior Program Manager / Creative Community at Adobe
Nate Jones / Sales Manager / Beyond
We work closely with brand partners and corporate sponsors on fundraising and marketing campaigns that protect students and groundskeepers across the nation. Leveraging experts, influencers, and a boatload of creativity, we collaborate to promote nature-based solutions together. If you’d like to connect about working with Re:wild Your Campus, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Re:wild Your Campus is thrilled to work alongside other organizations fighting to create a livable planet and to participate in networks that are furthering sustainability and climate justice.