COUNCIL BLUFFS - Nicholas Endorf lives in Omaha but spends a lot of his time in Council Bluffs.
In his second year of college, Endorf is a student at Iowa Western Community College pursuing his associate’s degree in sustainable energy.
“I figured if I could do something I loved that benefited the planet and provide a healthy ecosystem for my son to grow up in, it would be the best of both worlds,” Endorf said.
Endorf was recently named to the All-Iowa Community College Academic Team for 2017, which honors Iowa’s best and brightest enrolled in community colleges across the state.
“It’s actually very flattering and very humbling,” Endorf said. “I didn’t expect it, but it was very nice to know all of my hard work was recognized. It was a nice honor to be given that.”
Endorf was nominated to receive the award by Iowa Western. He’s the only student from the college to be named to the team.
“IWCC is very proud to see Nicholas receive this award,” Marjorie Welch, vice president for academic affairs at the college, said in a prepared statement. “He is a very hard-working student who is very passionate about his chosen field of sustainable energy.”
Endorf will be recognized for his work in sustainability on March 1 during a banquet in Des Moines, Iowa.
“Nicholas’ accomplishments include serving his country in the U.S. Navy as a flight engineer, volunteering at a non-profit organization that teaches children urban sustainable farming practices and working with multiple college departments to establish a composting protocol at IWCC,” Welch said.
Some of Endorf’s on-campus sustainability initiatives include reusing vegetable oil from the college’s cafeteria and turning it into biodiesel to donate to local area farmers that use diesel engine trucks and working in conjunction with the culinary department to set up a composting project to reduce waste.
As part of another classroom project slated to happen next semester, he also has plans to develop an aquaponics system to work in conjunction with the culinary department. An aquaponics system is an enclosed and self-sustaining system where fish feed off plants and plants filter the water, and, in return, fruits and vegetables can grow.
Beyond the classroom, Endorf is hard at work making his home a little greener too.
“My son and fiancée are both vegan, and I’m vegetarian,” Endorf said. “We compost and we have garden beds in the backyard, and we share one car so we can cut down on emissions.”
They also recycle as much as possible with the exception of his son’s diapers, which is the only waste they produce, Endorf said.
They buy local and organic and he hopes to one day get off the electronic grid and switch to solar power.
“We try to live as sustainably as much as we can,” he said.
Endorf has two classes left to take in the fall before he can graduate this December.
His short-term goals include working as a wind turbine technician and then pursuing his bachelor’s degree in sustainability management at Bellevue University. His long-term goals include teaching higher-level education on sustainability and alternative fuels.
He plans on returning to Council Bluffs to pursue his sustainability career, he said.
“Iowa is much more progressive in the area, and the developments are second to none,” Endorf said. “When I do apply to work in wind energy, it will be in Iowa.”