Luke Salerno and his group of Castleton College friends were making a usual walk through campus when suddenly, Salerno veered off onto the campus green to retrieve a pile of PBR cans a thirsty college student left the night before.
As bizarre as the act may seem, it’s the norm for Salerno.
On any given day, you might find the sophomore digging through a bush or searching the Castleton campus for trash, which he promptly deposits in a trash can with little fanfare.
Salerno isn’t paid for his efforts, it’s just something he intrinsically needs to do.
His actions have led many students and staff members to question why he continually goes out of his way to freshen the Castleton campus?
The answer isn’t so simple, as Salerno isn’t quite sure himself.
“I honestly just don’t like seeing trash and something inside me just urges me to pick it up,” he said.
Peter Vaughn, Salerno’s close friend, feels that Salerno’s trash picking habits are a true testament to his character.
“I think what Luke does is a really good thing and he could start to inspire others around campus to do the same,” he said.
Vaughn isn’t the only one who notices Salerno’s initiative.
President Dave Wolk has also taken note of his leadership.
“Luke demonstrates what we hope for in all our students,” Wolk said. “The Castleton Way, epitomized by holding open doors for anyone passing through, picking up litter wherever one finds it, on or off campus, and other behaviors that show that a mature adult can think outside of himself.”
Professor Andrew Vermilyea, head of Green Campus Initiative, loves to see someone taking charge in the movement.
“It’s awesome to see someone so young joining the cause. Usually it is older people that you see on Green-Up Day picking up trash. I hope Luke continues to inspire others to join the cause,” he said.
Vaughn has grown accustomed to seeing Salerno veer off course, on- and off –campus, to chase down wayward pieces of trash
“One time when we were walking to Africa (The South Street parking lot), Luke walked almost a quarter of a mile out of his way to climb up a tree just to recover a couple beer cans,” he said.
Salerno said he simply wants to make Castleton a more desirable place for everyone and perhaps picking up litter can accomplish that.
“I feel like a clean campus looks better for prospective students and attracting them to Castleton,” he said.
Salerno’s roommate, Jesse Rowe loves his cleanliness.
“It’s nice to live with Luke because he likes to keep the room pretty clean, and he’s just a good kid overall,” Rowe said.
The Castleton mentoring program is another area where Salerno has flourished. As a member of the program, he meets once a week with a fifth grade student where he acts as a role model. Recently, he was recognized as the most outstanding mentor of the year.
On the baseball diamond this spring, Salerno has appeared in five games and recorded one win and one loss. He has been statistically sound with a 3.47 ERA and 16 strikeouts.
Castleton officials are pleased to hear about stories like Salerno – stories that go above and beyond the call of duty.
“It also shows leadership: doing the right thing when no one else is looking,” said Wolk.