Current CESP Students

Views expressed here are those of the students and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Nelson Institute or UW-Madison.

photo of Nicole Adrian

Nicole Adrian

What are your majors? History and Conservation Biology with a certificate in Environmental Studies. Accelerated Masters in Public Affairs at UW-Madison La Follette

Expected graduation: May 2019

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I grew up on Lake Winnebago in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I spent a lot of time with my two older brothers wandering the shorelines, swimming and being outside. As I grew older, I found myself appreciating nature and wanting to learn more. I took my first environmental studies course in high school, and since then I have found myself interested in questions of history, the Earth and their relationship. Walking through the woods is like seeing a living library and I want to learn about all its parts. I think the greatest way we are able to protect and conserve the Earth is through education and community.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is a great place to get to know people that have similar interests to your own, it is a great community on campus, get to know your classmates!

Something few people know about you: My favorite foods include potatoes, rice and beans, cherry twizzlers and fresh spring rolls!


photo of Emiliana Almanza Lopez

Emiliana Almanza Lopez

What are your majors? Environmental Science and Sociology double major with certificates in Chican@/Latin@ studies and Environmental Studies.

Expected graduation: May 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My deep belief in the interconnected working of our universe has lead me to study ecosystems, societies and how their composition and functionality intertwine. On a more political level I have always been drawn to systems of oppression and how they affect groups of people. As I grew up I realized that my love for nature and my love for learning about societies was very connected. I started to read all I could about environmental racism and injustice. The more I read the more it made me want to do more, up until the want became a need and I went into college with the goal of becoming an Environmental Lawyer to fight for environmental justice.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is a community of undergraduate students who share an interest in connecting communities to the environment, sustainable living, and just practices that promote community health through a vast array of ways.


photo of Addison Arndt

Addison Arndt

What are your majors? Degree in Agricultural Business Management with certificates in Religious Studies and Sustainability

Expected graduation: May 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Growing up on a farm in the rolling hills of southwestern Wisconsin, I was taught to love the land that helped us make our living. My parents instilled the ideals of being a good steward to the earth around us and appreciating the divine beauty of nature. I spent much of my childhood out in the garden and fell in love with the process of growth and the intricacies of the living world around me. I continued to learn more and began participating heavily in FFA in high school where I found my calling in agricultural sustainability. Living outside of a town of 500 people, the importance of community was in all that we did. The neighbor helping neighbor mentality was of the utmost importance. We thrived together and lifted each other up as uniquely contributing individuals. This support system enabled me to give my all in everything I did and achieve more than I could have ever hoped to alone. Both the community and environment have each been integral pieces in making me who I am today.

Something few people know about you: I hope to one day become an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Something else about you? I plan to continue my studies here at the University of Wisconsin by attending graduate school and pursuing a master’s degree in Agroecology. I hope to use this education to make in impact in sustainable agriculture here in the Midwest.


photo of Sam Barendregt

Sam Barendregt

What are your majors? Environmental Science

Expected graduation: May 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My interest in the environment stems from my childhood adventures in state and national parks. Since then I have been inspired to give back to and protect our natural resources. Additionally, I believe that our community is very important in achieving these goals and cannot wait to get more involved in the Madison area.


photo of Rebecca Biggs

Rebecca Biggs

What are your majors? Linguistics and Environmental Studies, certificate in American Indian Studies

Expected graduation: May 2019

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? As far back as I can remember, I have always respected Nature and found great comfort within it. I want to make Nature, and the local policy supporting it, more accessible, especially for people of color and people entrenched in chronic poverty. Environmental issues, both local and beyond, have significant consequences for all populations, but they disproportionately affect these groups. I am amazed by the complex social dynamics between and within communities that speak different American English dialects, and I hope to tie this into my community outreach in order to boost effectiveness and inclusion. I am working both as a data-entry intern for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and an education intern for the UW Madison Native Nations Initiative.


photo of Auttum Bowen

Auttum Bowen

What are your majors? I am currently undecided but I am looking at double majoring in Environmental Studies and English. I am also working towards an Environmental Studies certificate.

Expected graduation: May 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My interest in the environment was inspired by my high school environmental studies class. I had never taken a class like it before and it taught me a lot about the world and what is going on in the world that I didn’t know before. I enjoyed learning about the issues of today’s world and how people are trying to solve them.

Something else about you? I wrote and illustrated a (non-published) children’s book about land pollution and how children can help keep the planet clean.


photo of Collin Brehmer

Collin Brehmer

What are your majors? Environmental sciences.

Expected graduation: May 2019

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? As a child, I spent much of my free time learning about the world around me. Much of my time was spent watching the science channel, reading Zoobooks/National Geographic, and visiting family in Wisconsin’s Northwoods. The more I learned the more I realized how much pain exists in the world, and over time I developed a strong sense of duty to help ease the pain in whatever way I could. This drove me to pursue a career in medicine, but I was left missing an environmental element. I eventually decided to merge my passion for the environment and people, and pursue a career in environmental health research.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? If you feel like your STEM education is a little too analytical and dry- CESP is the perfect place for you.

Something few people know about you: I really like to cook, and love to bake. I see baking as an experimental food science with tasty products!

Something else about you? I spend most of my time researching air pollution chemistry, and I could tell you more than you’d want to know about the air we breathe.


photo of Nic Brown

Nic Brown

What are your majors? Environmental Studies and Anthropology

Expected graduation: May 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I remember spending hours immersed in the sand studying shells and rocks from the ocean, in awe at the ceaseless sunbathing tides. Growing up in an environment so beautiful as San Diego, California, a loving appreciation for the wonderful manifestations of the natural world became central to my identity. After moving to Wisconsin at the age of 10, I developed a newfound appreciation for the word “seasons”. As I assimilated into a new community in a new environment, many aspects of my identity began to change. But my exposure to new life and new people began much earlier. From the age of 5, I also traveled to the plethora of cities across the United States to live with my dad. Spending summers or winters at a time learning the ways of an unfamiliar space, I realized how impactful environment and community can be to one’s personal identity. Now, in the face of utter environmental peril, I am learning how we have come to this crisis. It is my aspiration to identify crucial cultural disasters that are key culprits in perpetuating a norm of environmental waste, ruin, and destruction. I do this with the purpose that the rest of the world may also recognize them and make better informed choices about how we want to sustain ourselves on our rapidly declining planet.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP has brought a fun and positive community into my life that has been invaluable. Though the Nelson institute is already a community within itself, full of caring and innovative people, CESP gives you the opportunity to spend time working on interesting projects with people who are equally passionate about the community and the environment as you! The space provided by CESP is an awesome opportunity to brainstorm and try out new ideas pertaining to your personal interests or goals for the environment or community related aspirations.

Something few people know about you: I don’t like learning new games, even though I like playing games.

Something else about you? My Jupiter, which rules optimism and expansion, is in Pisces. This means I grow and find understanding through empathy and compassion. Well, community and environment are no strangers to those ideals. It seems to me CESP facilitates the type of environment I need to grow!


photo of Breana Collins

Breana Collins

What are your majors? Environmental Science and Studies, certificates in engineering for sustainable energy and Afro-American studies, and sustainability

Expected graduation: May 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I am Breana and I am an Environmental Science and Environmental Studies major. Being part of a program called Chapter 220 which allowed me to see several inequities like education and overall resources between communities/cities sparked an interest to aid communities in receiving more resources especially in a time when the environment is so important. Joining CESP has a great opportunity to meet other students with the similar goals and mindset surround the environment and the community.

Something else about you? I am obsessed with cheese curds and Oreo shakes, but I am lactose intolerant and live in Wisconsin. What a way to live.


photo of Emily Conde

Emily Conde

What are your majors? Environmental Studies and Latin American, Caribbean, Iberian Studies and Certificate in Entrepreneurship

Expected graduation: May 2019

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Ever since my freshman year in high school I began to compete in the school’s science fair. After competing at the State level my very first year it became my passion. I competed every four years and every year my topic related to the environment. More specifically creating artificial oil spills and finding the most efficient way to clean them up.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP has provided a space for me where I know that I am speaking and interacting with other people who care about the environment. This has had a great significance for me because prior to CESP it was hard for me to talk to my family or friends about environmental issues I cared about because they just did not understand where I was coming from. In other words, CESP has gave me a community that I feel comfortable enough to talk about everything that has to do with the environment.

Something few people know about you: Spanish was technically my first language, till I started learning English in elementary school. Although I did not use Spanish for some part of my life, when I started studying at UW-Madison I knew I wanted to delve back in my Latin American roots and really solidify my Spanish speaking and writing skills so that I could one day use Spanish in all aspects of my life such as my career and research.

Something else about you? Last summer I spent the month of June conducting a field study on water contamination in Concepcion del Uruguay, Argentina. This was an amazing experience for me because I was able to utilize my Spanish in order to connect and understand a community,I knew nothing about.


photo of Sydney Copus

Sydney Copus

What are your majors? Gender and Women Studies and Environmental Studies

Expected graduation: May 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? When I was in the first grade, I was introduced to the Ornate Box Turtle. My classmates and I were assigned a small research project on a native Wisconsin animal and I chose the box turtle. I had never heard of a turtle before and I was thoroughly intrigued. I made my parents buy me every book they could on turtles and I read each one from cover to cover. Ever since then I have had a fascination with turtles. Most people think it’s quirky, but turtles were the first thing that sparked my love for animals, the environment, and learning. My small town roots are what make me interested in community. I come from a small town close to Madison and my community is a close one. Going from a place where everyone knows everyone to a school where that isn’t the case is challenging. I have made it my mission to make UW-Madison/Madison my new community and I think CESP is the perfect place to start.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP and the Nelson Institute have introduced me to so many great people and issues. They have helped me find a community of people who care about the Earth and the people on it as much as I do and it has been great to learn from them.

Something few people know about you: I am a huge book and movie nerd! I could talk for hours about my favorite books or movies.


photo of Kevin Crosby

Kevin Crosby

What are your majors? Nutritional Sciences and Environmental Studies

Expected graduation: May 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My initial interest in Nutrition and the body lead me to investigating the source of food, specifically meat production. After realizing the detrimental impact mass meat production had on the environment, I decided to learn more about the environment to see what other areas I was ignorant about and how to make a difference.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? I’d tell new CESPers to keep an open mind, and be willing to explore themselves and others.

Something few people know about you: I have a 6’8” wingspan.

Something else about you? I eat Greenbush everyday.


photo of Daniel Darlington

Daniel Darlington

What are your majors? Environmental Studies, Economics, and hopefully People-Environment Geography

Expected graduation: May 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to enjoy the environment my entire life. Growing up, my family was always outdoor oriented—that led to us fishing and camping all the time. My childhood curiosity for wanting to know why nature is the way it is has given me a lifelong interest in the environment. I still fish and camp, but now that I am older, I have added hiking, traveling, and exploring national parks and monuments to the mix. My experiences have led me to pursue environmental economics. I am motivated by my roots and enabled by my education to help make a difference and protect our natural resources for the people of today and for future generations.


photo of Yeline Del Carmen

Yeline Del Carmen

What are your majors? Environmental Sciences, certificates in Environmental Studies and ISSuES (Integrated Studies in Science, Engineering, and Society Undergraduate)

Expected graduation: May 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Being born in the Dominican Republic but growing up in New York city has given me an interesting outlook on the idea of community and environment. My childhood consisted of eating fresh fruits on my grandma’s backyard, rocky roads, and shady trees but also packed train rides, large crowds rushing to their next location, and yellow cabs masking the landscape. I come from a large family where sharing a meal, exchanging ideas, and negotiating for the things you want, is innate. These experiences have shaped my passion for the environment and given me a strong desire to build welcoming communities. I love seeing how groups of people navigate spaces and solve problems. Coming to Madison and observing how people interact with nature has added meaning to how I describe my environment. As an Afro-latinx womyn, I aspire to be an urban city planner fusing human’s consumerist habits with lush green spaces. I want to explore how cities withstand natural pressures and how we can incorporate more components that conserve our natural environment.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? The Nelson Institute is a place of learning that fosters your love for the environment. There are a wide variety of majors all relating to environmental studies. CESP is a community-based scholars program that allows you to engage with other students and explore different aspects of the environment through team building and collaborative work.

Something few people know about you: I hate the sound of nail clippers! It’s like nails on a chalkboard.

Something else about you? I believe that as a person with the privilege of studying at this university, it is so crucial to lift as you climb! Being at the top is no fun if those who you love and admired are not there with you. Seeing more diversity within the environmental field and outreach initiatives to introduce the outdoors to low income minority communities is something that I am looking forward to.


photo of Ana Diges

Ana Diges

What are your majors? Materials Science and Engineering, with a Certificate in Environmental Studies

Expected graduation: May 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I believe my family’s heritage and tradition unconsciously instilled in me a connection with the environment. My father is the descendant of immigrants who cultivated their fate from the terrains of northern Wisconsin, passing on to me a strong land ethic. My mother had the habit of pointing out many plants for their medicinal, nutritional or aesthetic properties during our long walks around the small mountain ridge we lived on. The climate in Valencia (Spain), where I grew up, also provided long and bountiful seasons in my family’s garden. I learned what interdependence with the earth meant from the moment I was assigned the official task of “gatherer”. I also enjoyed (and still do) going on long hikes with my aunt and uncle through the Sierra de Guadarrama, attempting to learn from what seems to be their infinite knowledge on forests, geography and village living. I owe them my first encounter with their local co-op as well as other connections between environment and society, such as passing on the recipe of bitter orange marmalade or the importance of lessening our footprint in this world. Experiences like these taught me not only the value of our ecosystem services, but also the powerful ways in which organized community can sustainably manage them.


photo of Andrew Dobbins

Andrew Dobbins

What are your majors? Agricultural Business Major with a certificate in Environmental Studies

Expected graduation: 2019

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I guess my family has always been into the outdoors. My father’s relationship growing up helping his grandfather with our cabin located in Cass County Minnesota and eventually my own summers there influenced our understanding in being land stewards to the next generation. Numerous summers planting trees, hauling boulders, and splitting so many bundles of wood, left all of us with an appreciation for the outdoors. I now enjoy fishing, hunting, bird watching, skiing, and the feeling of Waldeinsamkeit there. My great-grandfather’s work as a conservationist, visionary, and politician left a lasting impact in our community. Things like the formation of Deep Portage Natural Resource Center, ski and snowmobile trails, and local canoeing routes brought cross generational engagement for the state and many of its counties. That engagement is something I would like to create and proliferate in my local community so new stakeholders can experience and hopefully share their own legacy with the next generation.

Something else about you? I am the College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Associated Students of Madison’s Student Council Representative so stop me on campus and say hi!


photo of Ashley Doebereiner

Ashley Doebereiner

What are your majors? Legal Studies and History double major with a certificate in Environmental Studies

Expected graduation: May 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? For as long as I can remember, I always loved being outdoors and in the water. Growing up on Lake Michigan, my parents would have to drag me out of the lake for dinner and bed because I loved swimming in the lake and investigating the creatures beneath me. Yet, I remember days as a child where I could not go in the lake because of too much pollution or other bacteria in the water. As I grew up, I became more interested in what made the lake this way. I was intrigued to know the human impact on the environment and what laws and policies are emplace to protect the environment. These questions that I was left pondering at a young age made me pursue environmental law and combine my passions for protecting the environment, understanding the legal system and the history behind it.

Something few people know about you: I have one working kidney.

Something else about you? I like to watch crime shows on Netflix to help me relax. Oh and I really like goats!


photo of Kimberly Dornbusch

Kimberly Dornbusch

What are your majors? Atmospheric & Oceanic Science and Environmental Studies

Expected graduation: May 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Since the 1st grade, I have always wanted to pursue a career in the atmospheric science field. Other children my age wanted to be a professional baseball player or a teacher, but not me, I wanted to study the weather. I loved the way tornados could appear straight from the clouds and always stood in awe when it hailed. I enjoyed every rainbow and every spark of lighting during a thunderstorm. I have always been interested in the environment as, the environment generally effects the weather patterns. Without the environment, my childhood would not have been filled with the wondrous atmospheric phenomenon’s I still adore today.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is a great way to get involved around campus. You meet wonderful people and have a fun/engaging time learning about not only the Nelson Institute, but also the community you live in. I would recommend CESP to anyone who’s considering a major or certificate in environmental studies.

Something few people know about you: I am addicted to buying succulents. I current have close to ten and continue to buy more to fill my porch.


photo of Annie Edwards

Annie Edwards

What are your majors? Soil Science

Expected graduation: May 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My passion for the environment stemmed from going on day trips with my best friend from back home, Hannah. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was surrounded by an incredible amount of biodiversity in all directions. Hannah and I would research a good hiking trail and spend the day hiking and exploring the surrounding area. This exploration of the landscape made me forever grateful of the environment and has encouraged me to do what I can to protect it.

Something few people know about you: I love art! Art Museums are my jam and I enjoy making scientific drawings.

Something else about you? I really enjoy composting and like to think of my compost bucket as a living organism I feed my food scraps. I would love to work with making composting more accessible to others in the community.


photo of Quinn Gavin

Quinn Gavin

What are your majors? Environmental Sciences and Biology

Expected graduation: May 2019

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I grew up in Washington, DC so when I was a kid the only exposure I had that resembled nature was the National Zoo, but it fascinated me even then. I finally got out into nature when I was 9 with a sleepaway camp and realized there was an entire world I had been missing. Ever since then I have strived to spend as much time in nature as possible. Studying environmental science has added another layer to my interest because it’s now academic as well as aesthetic, and it always inspires me to learn new tidbits about the crazy natural world we live in.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? The CESP program is a great way to meet like-minded people who are concerned about the environment. It also gave me a chance to slow down my hectic life and think about the topics that interest me.

Something few people know about you: I’m happiest when reading a good book in a nice comfy chair.

Something else about you? This summer I camped on Isle Royale for a month straight and worked on trails. I may have seen the most dense clustering of mosquitos in the world but I got to be in a beautiful place making it a little bit easier for people to get out and enjoy it. All in all, it was definitely worth it.


photo of Derek Gille

Derek Gille

What are your majors? Genetics Major

Expected graduation: After the Fall 2019 Semester

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My interests in the environment came for me a bit later in my life. I became more involved in environmental science in my sophomore year of college. After learning a bit more about climate change and its implications, I decided I wanted to pursue science that would benefit our environment! I’ve always been very passionate about connecting the community with science. My parents and most of the friends I interact with on the day-to-day don’t have access to the resources I do here at UW and I’m very interested in sharing that knowledge and bridging that gap.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? I would tell students that CESP and Nelson are wonderful branches of our university that deal with the environment, and maintaining a relationship with the community where we can spread the knowledge accumulating here at UW.

Something few people know about you: Your average food or drink product travels 1500 miles before it ends up in your mouth!


photo of Austin Gladden

Austin Gladden

What are your majors? Elementary Education (Middle Childhood - Early Adolescence w/ a content-focused minor in Specialized Science).

Expected graduation: Spring 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? What inspired my interest in the environment and my community is the fact that I do not believe that a community can exist without an environment. Therefore, as a community, we must take pride in the resources that we have and protect them as if they are all we have. When we take our environment for granted, we see the results of it through global warming and other “natural” disasters that are seeming all too unnatural nowadays. I think that if we want to continue to be able to enjoy life, we have to respect that there is life all around us - even in things we do not wish to see it in - and we have to carry that tradition on.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? To all those out there in need of a home that also happens to shelter many faculty and staff who can offer you expert advice in all things “environmental” (and just about anything else, for that matter) you have come to the right place! Science Hall, in general, is a really cool building and if you happen to join CESP that is just an added bonus to all of the perks that come with being associated with the Nelson Institute.

Something few people know about you: My dream job is being a superintendent for a school district. #anythingforthekids

Something else about you? This semester, I am a part of Team Infinity. Thanks to Cathy, Molly, and Rob, and all of the wonderful support that they give, I have been able to make it this far with the program and I just want to let everyone out there know that once you are a part of the CESP family, you do not leave it. This group really does make a difference in my life, and I hope that if you choose to embark on this journey, it will do the same for you!


photo of April Hommerding

April Hommerding

What are your majors? Conservation Biology and Environmental Studies

Expected graduation: May 2019

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? First thing first, there is one thing I know to be true: you will not come across someone who doesn’t find some sort of beauty, enjoyment, or appreciation of being outdoors or within nature. I am thankful to have been a part of a generation that grew up spending as many hours of the day outside as possible. I found a love for nature by growing up spending time at my Grandparent’s house on a lake surrounded by woods. Second to my passion for nature, is a passion for animals. It has always been heartbreaking to me to hear news about our environment, especially as it relates to animals. The loss of coral reefs and forests, global warming, oil spills and water pollution, the list goes on… each one has some harmful impact on species and is an integral part to what may be the sixth extinction event on Earth. Loving animals as much as I did nature, I grew up wanting to become a veterinarian. To this day, I want to go to veterinary school, become a veterinarian, and educate others on the importance of conservation and thus the interconnectedness between animals and the environment.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? In this day in age, it appears our environmental priority has been swept under the rug and it may push people, including me, to feel small and helpless in terms of solving environmental problems today. CESP encourages optimism about the world’s ability to work together, care about the environment, and solve our environmental problems. As a member of CESP, I feel more hopeful for the future because I am surrounded by a group of people who share the same desires to solve environmental problems.

Something few people know about you: Most of my lifestyle is plant-based, and when I have the option to eat and drink vegan, I do!


photo of Margaret Johnson

Margaret Johnson

What are your majors? English – Major, Environmental Studies - Major, American Indian Studies – Certificate

Expected graduation: May 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I grew up in the middle of nowhere… quite literally. Even now when I search for my old address on google maps I can rarely find it. Interestingly enough the nearest neighbor to my house (which was a long walk through the woods), was a young girl my age. I grew up exploring outdoors spaces year round with a companion by my side, whether it was my neighbor or brother. Playing make believe, falling through ice in the nearby stream, and climbing trees until I could see for miles off in the distance made me the person I am today. Those connections and experiences pushed me to love both exploring and to enjoy communicating with others about those experiences. All of that led me to UW Madison and to this program, which allows me to combine my passions with a wonderful community of like-minded people.

Something few people know about you: I’m constantly changing my extracurricular activity. I don’t know if it’s because I get bored of doing the same thing over and over again or what. I’ve rock-climbed, boxed, and hiked throughout my college career.

Something else about you? I’ve solo camped before, which was an AMAZING experience that I would highly recommend to everyone! Obviously you need good gear and a backup plan, but if you can do it, you learn a lot about yourself as a person and about the world around you.


photo of Lauren Jorgensen

Lauren Jorgensen

What are your majors? Agronomy, Community and Environmental Sociology

Expected graduation: May 2019

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I have discovered my passion for sustainable community development across a variety of avenues, and have certainly secured it as a student here at UW - Madison. A summer position at a local hospital provided me with the opportunity to learn about the intricacies of food security in my local community. I carried the same passion that I developed during my years at my hometown hospital to my new community of Madison when I accepted a position for the Greenhouse Learning Community program assistant. My focus as the food and environmental justice centered program assistant is to develop events and seek out/provide opportunities for current freshman to uncover and reinforce knowledge and concern for environmental and food related issues. In the future, I hope to engage in an urban planning graduate program.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is a great place to interact with students that you probably have a lot in common with - but may have never met without the program. I love coming to class and hearing about all the cool stuff my peers do in their respective disciplines.

Something few people know about you: I dressed up as a carrot occasionally for that summertime job.


photo of Shannon Kim

Shannon Kim

What are your majors? Geography

Expected graduation: May 2019

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My interest in the environment was first sparked by my AP Environmental Studies class that I took in high school. Before that class, I never really thought about environmental issues as something that I was supposed to be worried about. After taking that class, I really started to think differently about the world and how we, as humans, affect it (and vice versa). This is what inspired me to start majoring in Geography, actually… looking at how we (humans) impact the environment and how the environment impacts humans. My interest in the community came naturally with my interest in the environment because it is all linked together.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is a great opportunity to not only meet people with similar interests in the environment, but it is also a great way to get to know various people who come from all over campus. People in CESP have another major or certificates besides environmental studies.

Something few people know about you: I love learning about cults.

Something else about you? I love urban gardening!


photo of Craig Kunkel

Craig Kunkel

What are your majors? Environmental Science with an Environmental Studies certificate

Expected graduation: December 2019 or May 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? When I was young, my mother called me “Huck Finn,” as I was constantly exploring fields, forests, and rivers on my own. I loved spending time outdoors watching animals, gazing at towering clouds, feeling the breeze on my face, and listening to the strange stridulations of insects. When camping, it was not uncommon for me to disappear after breakfast with at least one piece of gear: fishing pole, butterfly net, bucket, hand trowel, pocket knife, screen bug-hut, cloth pouch. Often, I would not return until sunset and usually with some sort of curiosity: a salamander in a bucket, a jar containing a rare insect, a snake coiled around my wrist (each of which I would of course safely release after a few moments of admiration), a beautiful stone or fossil, or maybe just the stick I used for walking and probing the depth of streams. I’m still in awe of the natural world and I take every opportunity to risk my digits wrangling large snapping turtles off the highway, ponder the bizarre morphology of fungi I come across while hiking, and watch in gleeful anticipation as thunderstorms plod ominously towards me over the horizon. As I grew older, firsthand experience and scientific curiosity allowed me to understand the intimate relationship between human health and the environment in which we live. I also began to see how, despite some improvements, we are not doing nearly enough. I would argue all biotic integrity, including human, starts with environmental quality. I would further argue that natural resource sustainability starts with sound conservation and science. When I returned to school, I decided to make Environmental Science and Ecology my career. I feel humbled by the opportunity to simultaneously pursue my passion for the natural world, indulge my scientific curiosity, and work towards elevating the standard of human health through ecological integrity. Plus I hope to get to catch frogs and play in the forest as part of my career!


photo of Cassandra McAnallen

Cassandra McAnallen

What are your majors? Geography, Sustainability Certificate

Expected graduation: May 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I love the outdoors and the environment and what to learn as much as I can about it. With the knowledge I gain here I hope to help leave the planet better for the generations that follow.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? For future students asking about CESP I would say it’s a great place to connect with other people and it also challenges the way you think about issues.

Something few people know about you: Few people know that I enjoy vacuuming.

Something else about you? I LOVE GARDENING!!!


photo of Laura Miller

Laura Miller

What are your majors? Geography and Environmental Studies with certificates in Leadership.

Expected graduation: December 2019

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I’ve always been intrigued by the environment and the various processes constantly going on everywhere in the world. Growing up in Washington, D.C., I have always loved the city, but after coming to college, I started looking at landscapes a lot differently. I quickly became fascinated by urban planning and design and how they play vital roles in community development. Now, I aspire to connect my passion for planning with that of green development to aid marginalized communities in major cities like my hometown.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? The Nelson Institute is one of the few places on campus I’ve felt completely comfortable nerding out about my passion for sustainability and CESP is one of the few places where I’ve met like-minded individuals who share that passion (along with others). The students are cool and the faculty are amazing. From the advisors to the TAs and professors, they tirelessly work towards helping their students, especially in CESP with Rob and Cathy. I’m really glad I became a part of CESP and the Nelson Institute.

Something else about you? I love BBQ, but am constantly at odds between cutting my carbon footprint and living my best life. So far, the latter has been on a winning streak.


photo of Jackie Millonzi

Jackie Millonzi

What are your majors? Environmental Studies and Geography (with a People-Environmental concentration)

Expected graduation: May 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I’ve been intrigued by the ways in which humans interact with the natural world since before I can remember. My eyes were glued to the window whenever I got into a car and I was always curious of the world I saw. As I got older, I realized the importance of teaching myself and others about environmental issues that related to my everyday life. I focused my high school humanities assignments on topics like the cultural heritage and natural history of Wisconsin, environmental impacts of waste disposal versus recycling materials, the effects of stress on one’s body and mind, and educating fellow students and staff about recycling and composting. All of these I later understood to be topics of sustainability—or the intersection of economic, environmental, and social well-being. My interest in understanding our world and the complex relationship between humans and the planet has led me to believe in the importance of being conscious stewards of the earth.

Something else about you? Growing up in a small, rural Wisconsin town made it easy to get involved in my local community. I tried almost every extracurricular that my school offered and was able to hold a leadership position in each activity that was near and dear to my heart. Getting to know a variety of people in my school and home community well is what made my childhood so enjoyable. It was truly inspiring seeing people with shared interests work together to reach common goals and I greatly appreciate taking part in those experiences. Coming to college has increased my passion for collaborating with people that want to help make this vast community a happy, healthy, and sustainable one.


photo of Justine Mischka

Justine Mischka

What are your majors? Community and Nonprofit Leadership, certificate in Environmental Studies

Expected graduation: May 2019

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Public parks and outdoor spaces are a sort of safe haven or church for me. They are inclusive, ask nothing of you, and are always there when you need them. I have fostered a wonderful life that both gives and receives indescribable amounts from our natural spaces, and it is all I want to do in life to protect them for their own sake and to preserve them for my fellow living beings to enjoy as well.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is certainly one of the best programs I am a part of. It is a perfect combination of my majors, as well as constantly introducing me to interesting people, literature, and places on campus that enrich my life.

Something else about you? I love bison :)


photo of Matthew Munns

Matthew Munns

What are your majors? Environmental Studies, Conservation Biology, Spanish, and a certificate in Education

Expected graduation: Fall 2019

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I have always been in awe by the natural wonders that surround me and my community. With parents that presented me with a lot of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, I have been outside as much as possible since I was a little kid, either climbing trees or swimming in lakes. The environment has been in the news lately and mostly not for the better, and by studying environmental studies and conservation biology, I hope to be part of the solution that will hopefully help our environment. The community I think plays a key role in helping bring awareness about the environment and whatever environmental issues are going on and if we get our own communities to care for the environment, other communities will follow suit.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? For people not familiar with CESP or the Nelson Institute, the first thing I would do would be to urge them to join or get involved in either early on. With such great resources that the Nelson Institute has, it would be a shame not to utilize them. CESP I think is one of the many resources the Nelson Institute offers, and with the cohort group, you will learn a lot more than just the environment or the community’s involvement with the environment.

Something else about you? I am from Madison, WI, and have also been interested in pursuing a career with the environment, and I seem to have a strong attraction to marine ecosystems, especially in Polar Regions.


photo of Theresa Nepomuceno

Theresa Nepomuceno

What are your majors? Middle Childhood-Early Adolescence Education major focusing on Math and Science with an Environmental Studies Certificate

Expected graduation: Fall 2019

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I grew interest in the environment spending everyday outside growing up! My interest in the environment as an academic field started my Spring semester of freshman year when I took Geography 339. Since then, I have grown a great appreciation of natural processes and how these ideas can be applied in other fields. My focus in my studies is how I can apply experiential, outdoor learning to everyday science curriculum in our public schools!


photo of Ilhulpachakatl Neubauer

Ilhulpachakatl Neubauer

What are your majors? Conservation Biology and Environmental Studies

Expected graduation: May 2018

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My interest in the environment stems deeply from my culture, my community, my passion for environmental and social justice, and lived experience. For most of my life, my community and family taught me that true self determination, love, and power of the people is rooted in our collective relationship with the Mother Earth. Our relationship with food and the environment reflects our health and relationship with one another. I have meditated for six hours straight, understanding, deconstructing, and healing the mental shackles of colonial oppressions that undermine our communities. That was the beginning of my journey. I hope to extend and encourage new and returning CESPers to being Woke. No to the Dakota Access Pipeline. #NoDAPL. This is what Eco Terrorism looks like. Fight for the next seven generations. MEXICA TIAHUI.


photo of Calla Norris

Calla Norris

What are your majors? Geography

Expected graduation: 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My childhood took place almost wholly surrounded by nature, first amongst New Mexico deserts where I was born, and soon after in the dazzling jungle sweep of Hawaii where I grew up. Later my family moved to the refreshingly biodiverse forests of Wisconsin. I spent a year as a highschool exchange student in the very green and almost unbelievably clean country of Sweden, and during my freshman year at UW Madison I was lucky enough to return to the desertscapes of the Four Corners through a semester long course with the Wild Rockies Field Institute. Throughout the assortment of regions in which I have resided, what struck me most were always the natural attributes that surrounded me. For myself, the natural world and its coinciding systems ooze an unparalleled charm. For this reason, the well being of the nature around me is something that I simply can’t help but view simultaneously with allure and immense vitality.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? Being a member of CESP has helped me to gain a sense of community that I have not been able to find elsewhere on campus at UW Madison. Not only do I love the sense of trust amongst my family at CESP, but I also cherish the conversations and subjects that we learn about during our weekly seminars.

Something few people know about you: Recently, I’ve been scavenging on the curbs and streets and dumpsters of Madison for house plants that others have discarded. Upon finding them, each of these plants was lacking in nutrients, water, sunshine, perkiness, love, and sometimes uprooted completely. I am happy to say that today my bedroom is packed with thriving vegetation; cacti, ferns, palms, and succulents, all salvaged from death row! :)

Something else about you? Another thing that I really love about CESP is that students are encouraged to volunteer and get involved with the community outside of our own group. In my past there had been some mystery and discomfort around doing so, but I’ve grown far more familiarized with taking an initiative in my community involvement through reaching out to local organizations for CESP projects.


photo of Tristan Persson

Tristan Persson

What are your majors? Environmental Sciences and Certificate Environmental Studies

Expected graduation: May 2019

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I have been inspired by the environment since I was a kid. Growing up in the country, playing outside, and going on multiple camping trips a year really makes you appreciate the natural beauty around you. In high school, I had a wonderful Environmental Science teacher who was very passionate about science and taking care of the environment. I became inspired to lead down the same career path. My second year at UW Madison I was looking to get more involved in the community, and that is when I found CESP. After I graduate, I hope to spend a year working for an environmental non-profit in Madison and then follow a career in natural resource conservation.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP has helped me become more involved and aware of local and national environmental issues. Not only is it an academic experience but also a place to hear from other students and network about classes, jobs, and careers. I think that everyone in Environmental Science and Studies should be a part of CESP!


photo of Timothy Prestby

Timothy Prestby

What are your majors? GIS/Cartography, certificate in Environmental Studies

Expected graduation: May 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I grew up in a small community known as Pulaski outside of Green Bay, WI. During my childhood into my high school years, my brother Zachary battled two types of cancers and complications like kidney failure. My family and I faced tremendous adversity. However, the community of Pulaski and Green Bay helped us through the challenges. Often community members helped out with yard work, cooked yummy meals, and much more when our time had to be spent on taking care of Zachary. Until my senior year in high school, I did not realize just how much power communities have when I took an environmental science course. While learning about community supported agriculture, I began to recognize how communities can help others in diverse ways while enriching Earth. As Pulaski and Green Bay did to my family, I yearn to promote positive community change through the power of informative maps!

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? Cathy and Rob are super awesome. Both have a strong passion for the course subjects and the students. They make the class fly by and want you to come back for more. Also, it is super great to make friends and network with the other CESP students who have a diverse background in areas of study.

Something else about you? I am excited for this semester since I now have the experience and connections to start making maps for real-world clients in environmental fields. I will also be going to attend the American Association of Geographers conference which will be awesome to learn about all the fresh findings related to environmental geography!!


photo of Emily Rau

Emily Rau

What are your majors? Environmental Sciences and Geography

Expected graduation: May 2019

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? As a young girl I loved to be outside in nature and I was consumed by my love for animals. The enjoyment I derived from being in nature developed into an interest in wanting to learn more about the environment. In high school I took Ecology and AP Environmental Science, and through these classes I was able to learn about the fundamentals of the natural environment along with how to identify bird calls and trees. College has allowed me to pursue my interest by taking a wide variety of classes on different aspects of the environment. These classes have made me realize that I want to have a career in the environmental field, and be an agent of change in helping to protect and preserve the environment from human impacts. The environment and society make up an interconnected web in which a change in the environment can have an effect on the community, while community alterations can in turn have strong repercussions on the environment. I believe that it is important for everyone to see and understand the connection between the two because as a society we cannot completely solve environmental problems until we consider the social, economic, cultural, and political consequences that shape our world.


photo of Jeremy Sanford

Jeremy Sanford

What are your majors? Conservation Biology & Environmental Studies

Expected graduation: Spring 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My interest in evolution sparked an interest in ecology and the preservation of biodiversity. A huge part of maintaining biodiversity is habitat maintenance. This turned to a passion for environmental issues and sustainability.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? I would say CESP is a great program that is worth going in to. You learn a lot about how the humanistic side of nature interacts with the abiotic factors of the environment to form a cohesive setting in which our species thrives. As we know, our impact on the planet and other species is massively detrimental, so being around people that want to solve this problem is a great opportunity

Something few people know about you: I’m a huge old music fan. I listen mostly to stuff from the 1960s-1990s. I know that’s a hipster thing to say, but I swear I cant help it, my ears just like it.

Something else about you? Plus I’ve played guitar for six years and can’t make any music that doesn’t sound like bosa nova. It’s a problem


photo of Hannah Sigg

Hannah Sigg

What are your majors? Environmental Studies and Geography

Expected graduation: May 2019

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I’m not really sure when I became interested in the environment. I just kind of showed up and thought it was cool, and then some things like internships and research just fell into place and now I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I remember when I was little, I would see things on the news about oil spills and other environmental degradation and thinking something along the lines of “ah jeez, I hope someone fixes that!” but eventually learning that I can be the person that fixes that. A switch flipped in my brain, and I realized that I wanted to do everything in my power to preserve and restore the natural landscape around us. Now I work in land restoration and I love that there is a tangible difference before and after working with a plot of land. Knowing that I can make a visible difference in a place is incredibly gratifying, and I’m proud that I can help to restore Wisconsin’s prairies to the way that they were 200+ years ago.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? For Future CESPers: Pay attention to what your peers are doing and use that to help yourself grow. You don’t have to do what they do, but keeping your ears open may open you up to something that you didn’t know you would be interested in.

Something few people know about you: I’m susceptible to mosquito bites. One time I was working out in the woods and I got over 150 bites, while my coworkers only got one or two. My arm was so swollen that I couldn’t bend it!

Something else about you? I’m the vice president of the UW Geography club on campus.


photo of Paige Taft

Paige Taft

What are your majors? Geography and Environmental Studies with a Certificate in American Indian Studies

Expected graduation: May 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I come from a very long line of environmentalists and people who are obsessed with the outdoors. I spent a lot of my childhood outdoors, especially since I lived near a large park and the lakefront in Milwaukee. The first time I knew I wanted to make a career out of Environmental Studies was in my IB Environmental Science class in high school. The relationship between people and the environment intrigued me and I found it very interesting how various cultures had a different experience and relationship with the world around them. Learning about various cultures and their take on the environment inspires me to pursue my interest in studying the environment and the people in it.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? The people are the best! All of the people in the Nelson Institute and CESP want you to succeed and be the best you can be. If you’re looking to meet some great people and improve yourself CESP and the Nelson Institute are for you.

Something few people know about you: I am in the UW Marching Band and I am a Nelson Institute Ambassador.


photo of Steven Touney

Steven Touney

What are your majors? Geology/Geophysics

Expected graduation: May 2019

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Growing up all across the United States as a son of a marine, I have had the privilege to experience more communities and unique aspects of the environment than most my age. From the rock-strewn shores of the San Juan islands of Washington, to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, to the beaches of North Carolina; these places acted as my classroom and my playground growing up. I spent countless hours outdoors exploring the woods and the ponds that surrounded my home. Each new finding was a first in my book, and in my mind as a young explorer no one else had discovered the creek in the canyon or the box turtle in my backyard except me alone. This freedom of curiosity is what sparked my love for learning and natural sciences.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is a space to voice an opinion, listen, and discuss ideas surrounding the environment and community at its core, but further exploring the vast intersectionality of systems that are linked to these two subjects. Through engaging conversation, we educate each other and include a multitude of perspectives and backgrounds. CESP brings together students from all walks of life and creates its own community in a much larger UW-Madison ecosystem.

Something few people know about you: I am a tortoise and car enthusiast. I also recently discovered a passion for baking.


photo of Shannon Triller

Shannon Triller

What are your majors? Anthropology and Environmental Studies

Expected graduation: May 2019

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Hello everyone! My love of the environment started from a young age as I grew up here in Madison, learning all about environmentalism and the great leaders that have tried to combat the issues. My passion took a different turn in the recent years however when I started to take anthropology courses here at the UW. I began to learn more about the complex intricacies that environment and people have with one another; not just in our modern day societies, but every single past community as well. They affect one another in many ways, including in the way that their bodies grow and function. Next year, I will be starting a masters program - most likely University of Exeter in Southern England - in biological anthropology, with a focus on how various environmental factors have influence over human osteological functions.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is a fantastic program that helps make a big campus, such as the UW, feel a bit smaller by highlight how everything can be connected and related to one another. The students that make up the program are great, and without a doubt can help with any issue you may be facing, as we all bring in our individual knowledge and skills to the table.


photo of Emma Rose VanDell

Emma Rose VanDell

What are your majors? Fine Arts with certificate in Environmental Studies

Expected graduation: May 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I spent my childhood camping, climbing the hills of the riverbed that my hometown resides in, kayaking, making forts and toys from the trees and brush by the river, and being a self-proclaimed “River Rat”. Luckily, I was raised in a big family that loved to travel and explore the American countryside via RV. Due to growing up in this way, I have always seen the environment and nature as a whole as a part of the community in which I lived. This inspired me to protect and advocate for the health of natural spaces through volunteering and advocacy. That is why I spent my entire high school career only taking natural science classes and art classes. As a fine arts major now, I am hoping to combine my love for the natural world, community involvement, and skills as an artist to invite all different kinds of people into the environmental conversation.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? Being in CESP has opened up a lot of opportunities for me around campus by just exposing me to people and events that I wouldn’t have seen on my own. As a student whose main major lies far outside of the realm of environmental studies, CESP has created a space for me to learn from my peers, have important conversations about the environment, and enjoy the company of like-minded people. This group is a truly special one in a campus as large as UW because the leaders want to know who you are, nurture your education, and inspire you to step into the community in a different way.

Something few people know about you: I have a long list of back-up plans for my future due to my inability to commit to anything. One of them is opening my own art café to combine my love for art with my love for cooking.

Something else about you? I never kill bugs. Spiders are my roommates. House centipedes are my friends. Worms are my sisters.


photo of Jazmin Vargas

Jazmin Vargas

What are your majors? Community and Environmental Sociology and Environmental Studies

Expected graduation: May 2019

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? When I moved to the U.S, I was intrigued to see how different the environment was used and valued. It was then that I became interested in what factors caused these differences. As I started to learn more through my education, I began to realize the harms certain practices or surroundings have on human health and the environment. It was with all this additional information that I understood the strong link between the environment and the communities it surrounds. After taking a few Environmental studies classes at UW-Madison, I noticed the interconnectedness that exists between our surroundings and the effect on climate change, public health, community development, and policy.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? In CESP we all have different majors yet share a common interest. The CESP welcoming classroom allows us to have meaningful discussions going beyond environmentalism. The support of fellow CESPers, Rob, Kathy, and Molly make this seminar thought-provoking and enjoyable.


photo of Carly Winner

Carly Winner

What are your majors? Environmental Studies and Elementary Education

Expected graduation: May 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I grew up in a family that drove my love for the oceans to an obsession. By the age of 12 I was certified to scuba dive and ever since have never wanted to stop exploring. I was fascinated by the beauty, life and diversity that was found in an underwater world that most are completely unfamiliar with. My interest with the environment started with a passion to expose everyone to the ocean and make it known that we must protect this fragile, and important ecosystem. However, the older I got my passion for the ocean began to stretch farther than that singular ecosystem. I believe that my love for children and the environment is a perfect fit to make the difference in people’s understandings of the environment.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? Attending a school like UW where there are thousands of students, it can be challenging to find “your people". CESP provides a safe space where both the students and faculty members are very inclusive and respectful of you. I feel CESP is perfect for students who are passionate about the environment in a scientific way, but also the social side of it. Sometimes science is overwhelming and traps us in a world that we forget about ourselves (humans). CESP is a place to discuss these issues and surround yourself with people who care about these critical matters.