Fortino Morales III, Riverside environmentist, was inspired by Sofa.
Why? She was “sustainable way back before it was a thing,” he said.
“She made her own clothes, crafted things out of recycled material,” said Morales, who comes from a family of migrant farmworkers. “She still does this to this day. Making roses out of packaging paper for my daughter to wear in her hair.”
Morales is a strong advocate for climate action and sustainability. He works for UC Riverside’s Office of Sustainability, leading green initiatives on campus, and working with students interested sustainability issues, justice, and the environment sciences.
Years back, as a UCR undergraduate student, Morales helped start the university’s RGardenOn campus, it serves as a space where students can conduct environmental research and provide fresh produce to the community.
Morales, 33, is a former student and UCR staff member. She has worked towards creating a sustainable, cooperative world for the next generation, and fighting climate change.
“Until climate change affects them, people don’t want to make a change,” Morales said. “Let’s not wait until it affects us — let’s make moves now towards a better world for everybody.”
Morales was born at Blythe in the eastern Riverside County desert and grew up here. Morales recalls visiting museums and zoos as a child, planting a garden in his yard, and being exposed in high school to environmental and social issues.
When he came to UC Riverside in 2006, he knew little about the environmental sciences, thinking it was “a hobby, something you do outside of your day job.”
“But I was always really interested in the social justice aspect of it,” he said.
Morales majored in environmental sciences. He was involved in sustainable green initiatives, public policies, and environmental groups both on-campus and off-campus. Sustainable UCRAnd Grow Riverside. He co-authored UCR’s Green Campus Action Plana $2.50 indefinite green fund for students that can be used to support related projects. Courses in sustainability and agriculture.
Morales and other volunteers helped to start a campaign in 2009 to build the pilot. R’GardenParking Lot 30 is located near Martin Luther King Boulevard. The idea was born from a desire for more “environmentally centered,” agricultural spaces on campus.
In 2012, Morales became director of the R’Garden and over six years helped it grow into a resource center for student-led agriculture projects. The 8-acre R’Garden now includes a solar-powered greenhouse, Valencia orange grove, community plots and crops that feed the UCR community with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Food securityRiverside, Moralessaid has a lot of problems with this.
“One of the major food deserts is the Eastside, our neighbors,” he said.
The R’Garden Over 1,200 students received fresh produceDuring the first months of the coronavirus epidemic, the UCR campus had to be closed.
Dawn Carter, who met Morales while helping to plan a wedding in 2014, Grow Riverside conference about urban agriculture and sustainability, was inspired by his work with the R’Garden.
“He is a sustainability warrior who just genuinely cares about doing the right thing,” Carter said. “It was cool to see young people (like Morales) giving back to those without access to food.”
Morales said everyone in their respective fields — from policymakers and teachers to artists and engineers — can do their part to fight climate change and reduce their carbon footprint.
“It’s not just a Riverside or a California problem — it’s our world, our home,” he said. “The next generation will be inheriting the earth that’s passed on to them, so I think we should do our best to make this world better for them.”