Being true to its vision, the Visayas State University upholds the value of conserving the environment using scientific knowledge. It is home to the various departments and research centers that study the elements and factors affecting the environment, including the Institute of Tropical Ecology and Environmental Management (ITEEM) which promotes the concept of rainforestation where planting native trees supports tropical forest conservation and restoration efforts.

In 2013, VSU was named the Sustainable and Eco-friendly School in the Philippines by the National Search for Sustainable and Eco-friendly Schools (NSSEFS). As the university aspires to be a green university in the next few years, VSU takes pride in Viscans who are at the forefront in pushing this goal, and among them are their homegrown environmental scientists. 

For our last  #TatakViscan story, we feature the life of Daryl Lee Pepito, an environmental science student, and Kit Felian Tenio, an environmental scientist, two proud products of the university that champions excellence in the realm of environmental conservation.


Daryl: A visionary scientist in the making 

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Hailing from Palompon, Leyte, Daryl Lee Pepito is a sophomore taking up BS in Environmental Science at VSU. He is currently a Board Director of the College of Forestry and Environmental Science Student Council and a Sustainable Development Goals Ambassador for Climate Action on the campus.

Environmental science wasn’t Daryl’s first choice. According to him, he would probably choose a degree program that can get paid high in the future. Then there was this time when he was moved by the scientists who protested against fuel companies who until now profit at the expense of our planet. Then it eventually led him to see the many other issues that the environment is facing right now.

“I’d consider a program which I could not just earn a big salary from but also help the environment,” Daryl added.

VSU is the only school that Daryl applied for. “I became an open qualifier from the program that I planned to secure a slot with, the initial plan was to make it a bridge to pursue environmental engineering in the future. But then I had to go through another consideration. At that point, I discovered the environmental science program and realized it is not far from the career path I want to pursue.”

Sir Kit: a #ProudViscan environmental scientist 

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Meanwhile, Sir Kit Felian Tenio is one of the graduates of the VSU Class of 2019 with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Environmental Management. He finished his master’s degree in environmental science at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) last 2022. Prior to his master’s study, he taught environmental science subjects at VSU which is why a handful of Viscans know him as his former students.

To shed some light, environmental science wasn’t the one offered yet back in his time, it was environmental management, and they were the last batch who took it before it transitioned to environmental science. 

According to him, there was not really much of a story about why he took environmental management as his undergraduate degree. He only knew this degree existed when they had a field trip during high school. He thought of VSU as pristine, and a very welcoming environment and he envisions himself to be part of this community when he proceeds with his tertiary education. But as far as he can remember, the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda way back in 2013 which he experienced, was one of the contributory factors why he wanted to take a degree about the environment. He was ultimately curious about how it happened and how the disaster shaped the affected people's lives. 

The struggles of being a college student

Sir Kit vividly remembers that he had a clear goal in the early years of his college which was to focus on his academics.

“I kept myself busy studying, staying late at night to ensure I was able to run through review materials as much as I could and be prepared for upcoming examinations. It was something I can be proud of at this point recalling those moments back.”

As for Daryl, he has undergone climate anxiety in the process. “The image that statistics would give makes you feel hopeless, even if I’d somehow be part of the solution, there aren’t just enough people out there to get that to stop from happening. Maybe the fate of this planet is going that way. “

Living as student leaders

Daryl and Sir Kit share a passion for leading the studentry as Daryl is currently an officer of their college student council as well as Sir Kit during his college years.

“Perhaps the significant contribution that I made as a student leader is about personal development. I’m holding the committee on student welfare and development; much of what I do is somehow connected to it. I believe that to change the world, we need to change the people, and one way is by serving them in ways that they will be able to find their passion and purpose,” says Daryl.

Meanwhile, when Sir Kit entered his junior year in college, he decided that he wanted to be part of something bigger. Something that he’s passionate about and would love to extend his youthful energy aside from academics. It was in 2017 when Sir Kit became the President of the College of Forestry and Environmental Science (CFES) and at the same time Treasurer of the University Supreme Student Council. 

“Informative seminars you get to attend, conducting awareness drives, facilitating environmental jamborees, and other related activities through collaborative efforts with other student organizations. Those were the things that spiced up my college experience apart from juggling my academic responsibilities.”

Green Ambassadors’ passion for sustainable development

As an SDG 13 ambassador, Daryl envisions this university with Viscans who are firm about the things they want to fight for, especially for environmental conservation. The road there requires familiarization with some concepts and stories which can be achieved by different levels of awareness. 

In addition, youth leaders should also be given the chance to be immersed in creating projects that could further improve the way we do things for a sustainable planet. This fight is intergenerational, youth are creative and strong, and they can help people generations from the past and now to understand the importance of caring for our planet.

On the other hand, Sir Kit previously worked with a non-government organization called “RISE” or Restoration Initiative for Sustainable Ecosystems in partnership with the Institute of Tropical Ecology and Environmental Management (ITEEM-VSU) and Yale University - ELTI program.


With our growing concern with climate change, and because the Philippines largely experiences the impacts of a changing climate (geographically located in the Pacific Ocean), planting native trees that have inherently adapted weather conditions in the country is the kind of tree species that must be prioritized for tree planting activities or any reforestation efforts in the country. They are deep-rooted species that stabilize soil from erosion and landslides. It can also withstand extreme weather events such as typhoons which our country experiences several times a year.  

The trail towards being an environmental scientist

Overall, environmental science somehow has shaped Daryl in ways he also gets to experience the fun part. 

“The best part is to learn to find real happiness. I realized that happiness doesn’t just come from money. The things we seek are already around us, and I wish everyone gets to see that. I hope everyone will not forget to go out during their free time, look at the sky, appreciate the vegetation, and sigh with relief: ‘Ahh this is life, I want to fight for it’,” Daryl concluded.

For Sir Kit, navigating through the path of finishing any degree is difficult, but College life is short and you’ll experience a plethora of emotions.

 “I realized that hard work is all about consistently persevering no matter how tough the road is. It's not the difficulty, delays, or rejections that can define us but how we get back after we stumbled and take necessary actions to address it. More importantly, let’s not forget to take a good rest when it’s needed.” Sir Kit said.

“Take every opportunity out there that will help you acquire practical experience. Don’t limit yourself to your academics, widen your network by engaging in extracurricular activities because this will help you find your purpose and what you are passionate about. It will also open more doors of opportunities for your career growth and development.” He added.  

The threats of climate crisis continue to soar globally as well as the attacks environmental scientists and defenders receive for staying true to their principles. But no matter how challenging this field is, Sir Kit and Daryl, and all the environmental scientists out there are holding the line for free and responsible practice of science for the future of our planet.


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