Jessica Bedtka

What are your majors? Geography (people-environment) and political science double major, with certificates in environmental studies and food systems

Expected graduation: May 2020

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Many of my most cherished memories from my childhood revolve around camping, picking berries in the woods, and exploring the creek near my childhood home within the Driftless area. These experiences along with my deep interest in philosophy inspired me to study political science and geography when I came to UW-Madison. After a spontaneous decision to spend a fall semester backpacking and kayaking while learning about people/land relations in Montana, through the Wild Rockies Field Institute, I developed an interest in sustainable development and the political ecology surrounding food systems.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to learn first-hand about direct community action from opportunities including taking part in youth driven conservation efforts across Wisconsin, foraging medicinal plants with resilient indigenous leaders, and farming veggies in the green mountains of Vermont for a farm-to-hospital program. Through these experiences and my studies, I have seen the power of people and am inspired by the amount of compassion people hold for one another as well as the environment.