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Letters, Alumni Notes

November 23, 2011


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Moving beyond coal

I very much enjoyed reading the new newsletter. You did not mention that after decades of coal burning to meet its heating and cooling needs, the UW is ending this practice ["Sustainable U," Spring 2011]. This alone represents the largest pollution reduction in the UW's history, and a shining example for the remaining 45 or so universities still burning coal. This issue is near and dear to my heart because I wrote my final paper as part of my environmental studies certificate on why the UW should retire its coal plant in 1992.

It just took twenty years and a federal lawsuit to bring about this change.

Bruce Nilles ESC '92, JD '96 Senior director, Beyond Coal Campaign, Sierra Club

Kudos for the major

I was thrilled to find out that - at long last - there will be an environmental studies major ["It's official: Environmental studies major will debut this fall," Spring 2011]! My education and experience in the environmental studies program shaped my life, and I'm sure that is true of so many others. With a full major, the university's excellent program will reach more people and surely benefit the environment.

You also ask for people to update you on their goings-on, so here's a bit about me. After graduation, I found myself working in billboard advertising in Madison. I then moved to Chicago, again at a billboard company. It took me about five years to realize that my career trajectory was going in the wrong direction.

I went back to school to get my M.A. in geography and environmental studies at Northeastern Illinois University while I took an internship with the Chicago Department of Environment, working in a community gardening program and then on the Calumet Initiative, an effort to restore and remediate approximately 3,800 acres of remnant open space (particularly wetlands) on the southeast side. I now live in La Porte, Ind., and took a job one year ago as executive director of Save the Dunes, this state's oldest environmental organization (formed in 1952 to protect the Indiana Dunes).

Thanks to you and everyone at UW-Madison for keeping us so connected. Despite the years and distance, I will always feel part of the UW family.

Nicole (Kamins) Barker ESC '93

Alumni Notes

What's new in your career and life? Write us at or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter and share an update there.

Matt Dannenberg (ESC '10) has joined the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters as Central Wisconsin organizer, working to educate citizens about conservation politics and protecting natural resources. Dannenberg also heads the league's Madison-based volunteer and internship program. Dannenberg had previously interned with the organization, as well as the Wisconsin State Assembly.

Gini Knight on Edible Madison cover
Gini Knight on the cover of the
fall 2011 issue of Edible Madison.
Credit Edible Communities, Inc.

Jesse Dean (ESC '11) began work this fall as an event coordinator for the Downtown Alliance, a strategic partner of the Salt Lake Chamber, Utah's largest statewide business association. Dean helps to develop and execute special events in Salt Lake, including the Downtown Farmers Market.

Harlan Hirt (M.S. '67) was inducted into the Tigerton, Wis., High School Hall of Fame in May for his achievements as an environmental engineer and planner. Hirt's career has focused on water resources in the Midwest and Great Lakes regions and he has served with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency. He has also been a member of the La Grange, Ill. Environmental Quality Control Commission since 1972.

Gini Knight (M.S. '08) graced the cover of the fall 2011 issue of Edible Madison, a publication focused on southern Wisconsin food and agriculture. Knight was featured in an article spotlighting women farmers in Wisconsin who are transforming the food system.

On her one-acre Sweet Magnolia Farms, Knight grows vegetables using organic practices for 24 CSA members. She is also the community program manager for the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition (MACSAC), where she works on educational outreach around CSAs.

Dolly Ledin (M.S. '88) has earned the Madison Metropolitan School District's 2011 Community Support Award for her efforts in establishing afterschool science clubs and Family Science Nights at UW-Madison's Institute for Biology Education. As coordinator of the Adult Role Models in Science program and in partnership with Madison School and Community Recreation afterschool programs, Ledin reaches more than 350 children in 13 elementary and middle schools.

Tim McCollow (ESC '82, M.S. '84) is now a grant monitor in the City of Milwaukee Office of Environmental Sustainability, focusing on federal compliance and project development. McCollow spent the previous 23 years at We Energies, an energy provider serving areas of Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Nic Mink leads a Sitka Salmon Tour
Nicolass Mink leads a Sitka Conservation Society
alking tour focused on salmon education,
outreach and research. Credit Molly Casperson.

Nicolass Mink (Ph.D. '10) spent three months in Sitka, Alaska, this summer as director of Sitka Salmon Tours, a walking tour initiative of the Sitka Conservation Society that aims to inform people - many of them tourists - about salmon as a valuable natural resource and preserving salmon habitat.

Mink is a visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., and the Sitka Conservation Society's salmon education and outreach coordinator in the summer.

Robert Ribe (Ph.D. '90) completed a 10-year term as director of the Institute for a Sustainable Environment at the University of Oregon. During that time, the institute won more than $6 million in research grants to assist state and local governments in coping with climate change, studying the impact of climate change on ecosystems, increasing employment in ecosystem restoration projects, performing perception and policy analyses in response to the spotted owl controversy, producing transportation and urban growth management studies, projecting future regional patterns of land use, and improving environmental education programs around the country.

Ribe is a professor of landscape architecture at the University of Oregon and a participating professor of environmental studies and community and regional planning.

ESC denotes Environmental Studies Undergraduate Certificate Program.