2019 Steward of the Year

November 19, 2019

We were thrilled to present our Steward of the Year award at our Fall Forum. The recipient, Sarah Bateman, has clear vision on how helping people and caring for the environment are congruent. She carries this vision with her as a contributing member of myriad organizations, including the UVU Sustainability Committee, Utah Valley Clean Air Task Force, and Orem Bicycle Coalition. As president of Utah Recycling Alliance and Co-director of Feast Utah, she has become a guiding leader in the local community.

SB swap crewHer most long-standing project is the semiannual Community Free SWAP event. Since 2008, Sarah has organized the gathering of donations to be offered free of charge. People often confuse it for a yard sale, asking volunteers for an item’s price only to be astounded when they’re told they can have it for free. It’s an especially tender moment when the person asking is a refugee or unemployed. For Sarah and her crew of volunteers, the intersection of hundreds of people and their stories creates an uplifting feeling of community that they cherish most of all. The added benefit is giving stuff a second life, expanding its usefulness before it goes to the garbage. What would have been wasted can become revived, reused, or reinvented.

SB orem committeeSarah became involved in local government to cultivate more mutual benefits for her community and their nature. After much perseverance, she founded Orem’s Natural Resources Stewardship Committee, which focuses on fostering “recycling, water conservation, bicycling, gardening and … good air quality” for residents. Earlier this year, she founded the Sustainability Coalition of Utah County to expand the conversation around sustainable practices as the county anticipates the challenges that will come with an expected explosion of growth. Her gentle diplomacy and sincere love for people sustain continued communication through difficult problems.

When asked by Sister Eubank to help answer a question from the audience, Sarah shared that "conservative and conservation are only two letters different, so there is a lot in common there"—more than people realize. Because her work requires so much communication and persuasion, "patience and persistence are my ever-present companions. . . . It takes a lot of faith and optimism."

Sarah has a firm testimony that Creation is divine, and therefore caring for it honors the Creator. Her work is a testament that good earth stewardship is true service to our brothers and sisters.