Calla Norris

Calla Norris

What are your majors? People-environment geography and environmental studies

Expected graduation: May 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My kidhood, and my grown-up-hood too, have led me to some amazing landscapes and biomes — the desert biome, jungle biome, mossy forest biome, prairie biome, and city biome — from which I initially developed my love and respect for the natural world that I continue to play in and cherish. From my exposure to these many wondrous landscapes, I gained an appreciation for the natural world. This made it all the more impactful to learn, through studying the connection between people and nature, that this opportunity is not afforded to many.

At UW-Madison, I chose my majors in people-environment geography and environmental studies based on the disconnect between humans and our natural surroundings that I believe is at the detriment of ourselves, on both a personal and a societal scale, as well as environmental health globally. The connection between any life form, human or otherwise, and its natural surroundings is a fundamental pillar in developing an understanding of its importance; a concern for the environment’s wellbeing becomes a desire to respect and protect it.

Moving around so much while growing up also gave me a deep appreciation of community. I repeatedly found myself playing the role of “new kid” in an unfamiliar setting, and when I was finally able to develop a sense of community somewhere new, it was always such a gratifying (if not hard-earned) experience. Growing up in this way really instilled in me the value of community, as something not to be taken for granted. I find that this is a ceaselessly recurring lesson, especially in today’s societal goings-on.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? I tried and failed to answer this question without sounding super sappy. But if anyone deserves sap, it’s the folks that make up the CESP community. I cannot overstate the gratitude I have for this flock. I invariably leave our classes feeling better than I did prior. Returning to CESP every semester, but this semester in particular, for me sparks a sentiment that is a combination of jubilation and relief. There is an invaluable closeness amongst the group; not only are the instructors chummy with the students, but they have a genuine interest in each individual’s wellbeing, and go out of their way to show their support. It’s a sentiment that one doesn’t come by too often.