In his four short years at the university, Bennett Artman has taken on a full plate of activities and responsibilities to give back to the environment. Initially declared with international studies and psychology majors when starting his undergraduate studies, Artman had a change of heart after reading Aldo Leopold and reflecting on the future of his education.
“It was almost like a flashpoint moment where I realized I wanted to change my major,” Artman recalled. “I was walking through the Lakeshore Nature Preserve and something clicked where I really appreciated how amazing all of this natural beauty is that we have on campus.”
This prompted Artman, now a senior, to swap his international studies major with environmental studies.
“I realized I didn’t know much about the species around me or what it took to preserve and maintain nature for future generations,” Artman said. “I knew it was important to me, and I was aware that I could do more to make sure other people can share our beautiful environment in the future.”
It was a major epiphany. Artman reflected about his opportunity to study something that he deeply cares about and decided to tie his interest in psychology with environmental studies to one day hopefully work in environmental psychology.
In his first semester after declaring environmental studies, Artman took a class with Tim Lindstrom, instructor for the Nelson Institute and student intern program manager at the Office of Sustainability. Knowing he wanted to make a difference on campus outside of the classroom, Artman applied and was hired for an internship position with the Office of Sustainability — a position he learned about in class. Through his internship, he is now a part of several initiatives including the podcast team, Green Events team, and the Green Greeks team. Both teams aim to reduce the environmental impact groups have on campus.
“College is really important in my family, and if I can at all give back to Oneida who has helped pay for my college, I think that would be a really great thing to do.”
— Bennett Artman
“With Green Events, we are trying to certify campus events to help use more sustainable options, when possible,” Artman said. “And Green Greeks is a newer initiative, but we are trying to outreach to different Greek organizations to offer recommendations and increase green event involvement.”
“I knew I wanted to be more involved on campus and make a positive change while doing so, but I really didn’t know where to start,” Artman said. “I knew working with [UW–Madison] at the Office of Sustainability would be a good place to start.”
He also holds a role as a student outreach coordinator with the Wisconsin Master Naturalists, a program coordinated by the UW–Madison Division of Extension that focuses on volunteer work and training in stewardship, education, and citizen science.
“I got involved with [Wisconsin Master Naturalists] because it seemed like a good way to meet like-minded people on campus, and that naturally led having a job with them,” Artman said. “I started making videos for them and that led to my role. It’s been such a cool experience.”
While Artman has enjoyed learning and giving back in his work with the Office of Sustainability and the Wisconsin Master Naturalists, he hopes to find a more hands-on career in environmental psychology and sustainability.
A member of the Oneida tribe, Artman has found his Indigenous identity plays an integral role in his values for the environment. His father is a Native American natural resources lawyer, which has also fueled his passion for the environment.
One of Artman’s biggest role models is his grandmother, who was an educator born and raised on the Oneida reservation. Despite coming from a family of 13 and facing adversity, each of his grandmother’s siblings attended college, herself included.
“College is really important in my family, and if I can at all give back to Oneida who has helped pay for my college, I think that would be a really great thing to do,” Artman said.
Artman is also a member of Wunk Sheek, an Indigenous student group on campus where he has enjoyed meeting other Native American students. Though he only joined this year, Artman has made great connections with his peers in the club.
“I’m very appreciative of everything that UW–Madison and the Nelson Institute has offered me, especially the professors I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from,” Artman said.
When reflecting on professors who have made a profound impact on his academic trajectory, one name came to Artman’s mind right away for her insightful course materials and dedicated approach to teaching.
“I’ve taken every single one of Heather Swan’s classes,” Artman stated. “Her classes and readings have directed my academic, extracurricular, and philosophical life frameworks. She’s one of the best teachers I’ll ever have.”