Current Students

Luis Abreu-Socorro

What are your majors? Wildlife ecology, certificate in environmental studies

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? After studying abroad in the Turks and Caicos Islands the summer after my freshman year, I decided that I wanted to continue advocating for environmentalism. This experience in the Caribbean exposed me to the field of marine ecology, which I would not have been able to pursue in Wisconsin. The class focused on marine megafauna (e.g. sea turtles, sharks, rays, etc.) and how they were being affected by ecotourism and resource management. The class and research related activities sparked my interest and I soon knew what I wanted to study.

When I returned to UW-Madison after the program, I decided to declare the wildlife ecology major in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the environmental studies certificate in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. After graduation, I plan to attend graduate school and continue my studies in the field of marine ecology, specifically studying cetacean (e.g. dolphins, whales, etc.) populations and their behavior.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is a wonderful program that exposes you to different aspects of environmentalism that you normally would not learn about in class. Some examples of the assignments in CESP include reading and discussing books related to the environment and social issues and creating service projects dedicated to helping our local communities. I especially enjoy how people from different backgrounds with similar interests are brought together to become friends and collaborate.

Mariah Antigone

What are your majors? Nursing and environmental studies

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? As a young paramedic, I worked in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin, a glaciated landscape surrounding the Mississippi River Valley. It was here that I fell in love with the deep beauty of the earth and realized that our survival as a human species is dependent on our relationship to nature.

Humanity does not exist in a vacuum. The ways we build (or fail to build) community, as well as our relationship to the natural world, determines both our personal health outcomes and the health of the planet. Working in emergency medicine taught me about the injustices that many of our community members face.

Health care in America is rife with inequities, and I became troubled by the systemic failures I saw each day. Working as a nurse in a rural hospital solidified my belief that our health care system frequently fails the most vulnerable. I chose to go back to school full-time at 30 years old in order to become a better nurse, a better advocate, and a better human.

Combining my BSN with a major in environmental studies will provide me with more knowledge of how to assist my patients live their lives in accordance with the World Health Organization definition of health: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? It is not an exaggeration to say that the Nelson Institute has been the best thing to ever happen to my educational journey. I had been interested in social and environmental determinants of health for years, but studying at the Nelson Institute broadened those concepts for me in ways I never imagined.

The staff and students at The Nelson Institute and in CESP are simply the best. I feel seen and cared for as a student at the Nelson Institute and I consider Science Hall my home away from home. I would recommend CESP and the Nelson Institute unreservedly.

Something few people know about you: Something about myself that few of my classmates know is exactly how much of a Star Trek fan I am. Talk to me about Deep Space 9 or explain to me that the hate for Captain Janeway is rooted in toxic masculinity and I’ll be your friend forever!

Cristina Bahaveolos

What are your majors? Chemistry with a certificate in environmental studies and Chicana/o and Latina/o studies

Expected graduation: May 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin where words like “sustainability” and “global warming” were not part of my daily vocabulary. However, a desire for and commitment to social justice was always a prominent force in my life. When I came to UW-Madison, I learned how immediate the climate crisis was and how it would only continue to exacerbate the social, economic, and political issues I cared about most — including those prevalent in my hometown.

Having grown up deeply influenced by this community, I’ve always understood how important community is in the education and values of the individuals who grow up in them. My interest as a scientist in the intersection between the environment and community lies in scientists’ capacity to inform and empower communities to defend themselves against environmental injustice and implement effective and socially sustainable practices.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? If you are passionate about the natural environment, the Nelson Institute is an amazing place to develop the skills and network needed to have the impact you want. If your passion for the natural environment is intersected with a social commitment to your community, CESP is an incredibly nurturing and supportive environment that gives you the resources to start helping your community now, as well as the development opportunities to really grow as an agent of positive change.

Something few people know about you: I was originally a political science major.

Something else about you? I love to cook and am really interested in how to consume more sustainably in a way that both reduces cost and improves heath.

MaryBeth Barker

What are your majors? Conservation biology and sociology

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I remember when I was a kid my mom read The Lorax to me and I started getting really worried about the rainforests being cut down. I spent a lot of time outside, mostly daydreaming and rollerblading, and I didn’t want loggers in the rainforest to ruin that. Since then, I have spent a lot of time camping and hiking, and instead of being a worried kid, I am trying to make all the efforts I can through my career to keep the environment healthy and sustainable.

I chose sociology as my other major because I feel that the answer to the climate crisis lies in people and the community, since we are the ones who can make change together. I recently added conservation biology because I am interested in gaining a more in-depth understanding of conservation’s biological aspects as well.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? I would tell any student interested in CESP and the Nelson Institute to just take an environmental studies class and see how they like it. When I took my first environmental studies class on campus, it taught me so much about how many different perspectives there are in solving the climate crisis, and it was completely worth it. The great thing about environmental studies classes is that they are cross listed with tons of other areas of study, meaning it could probably count for required credit!

Something few people know about you: When I was 12 years old I made a YouTube video that was a tutorial on how to do the cup song from Pitch Perfect and it got 20,000 views.

Briana Bateman

What are your majors? Community and environmental sociology, environmental studies with a certificate in food systems

Expected graduation: May 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? While I cannot necessarily say that there was any one specific point that I realized that I was interested in the environment, there is a particularly poignant moment of my young environmentalist fervor documented in an essay I wrote in first grade.

I was asked to write about what I would do if I were president. I answered that I would force “half of the people in the United States to leave” so that we could make “more room for nature.” While my intentions have changed since then, my commitment to environmentalism has remained firm. Luckily, my commitment to the community emerged and I decided it would be best to not ask anyone to leave the United States.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? I believe in practicing the virtues of kindness and love. I do not believe that any group better embodies these values than CESP. With the goal of uniting young learners under one goal of promoting community service and engagement as well as environmental stewardship, the world could use more programs like CESP.

CESP is almost like a family, but without the frustration. I am hopeful that after graduating, one day I will be able to come back and visit the future generation CESPers and impart some great wisdom upon them. Until then, I look forward to going out into the world and finding that wisdom and enjoying this wonderful seminar while I am still finishing up my academic career.

Something few people know about you: I have a scar on my toe from an accident related to pretending to be an airbender as a child.

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.

Auttum Bowen

What are your majors? English and environmental studies

Expected graduation: May 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My high school environmental studies class inspired my interest in the environment. 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.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is made of a friendly, diverse group of people both in background and interest but we all come together with the common interests in the environment and community. CESP gives you a great opportunity to learn about and get involved in new things while also giving you the opportunity to express your creativity and have fun through class projects that allow you to connect with other CESPers and the community.

Something few people know about you: I have been volunteering at Slow Food-UW since my freshman year at UW-Madison. Slow Food is a great place to meet new, friendly people and gain some really great experiences working in a kitchen, meal planning, and working with other student organizations to create fun food events.

Ronni Brent

What are your majors? Microbiology with certificates in environmental studies and global health

Expected graduation: December 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My interests in the environment and community sparked from my early childhood experiences in Chicago. There is scarcity in fresh produce markets, community gardens and access to proper nutrition. As a child, I witnessed many of my peers and family members suffer from various chronic diseases, malnutrition and other unhealthy habits. This has inspired me to strive to work and improve nutrition at a community level which serves as the primary preventative measure for successive chronic illness.

I aspire to work in public health fighting to diminish chronic illness primarily through nutritional improvements and implementation of organizations and centers for families to access fresh produce and develop healthy habits. In addition to improving nutrition, I want to seek out more environmentally friendly ways to grow and produce fresh fruits and vegetables slowly eliminating the carbon footprint of food production.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is a fantastic opportunity to connect with peers and professionals who share similar passions for the environment and community. It is so much larger than a simple scholarship program, CESP is a great place to share conversation around different issues and topics affecting communities of color, rural communities, the environment and so many more urgent topics. If you enjoy discussion-based, student-led seminars then CESP is definitely the place for you!

Something few people know about you: I secretly am a fashion enthusiast.

Wesley Browne

What are your majors? Life sciences communications

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? When I took a science class back in high school, one of the topics was pollution and toxins. I always drew an interest to try and research impacts on pollution and toxins and what kind of effect it can make on the environment and community around us. Also, in high school, we had a day called “Edgewood in the Community” where we would travel to different areas of the community in Madison and work in the environment for a day.

My most memorable trip would be travelling to the Arboretum to work on a project. The beauty of the Arboretum and other aspects of the environment drew interest to me and this inspired me to join the environmental studies certificate.

Daisy Chew

What are your majors? Conservation biology

Expected graduation: December 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I’ve always hated how people pollute and destroy nature for selfish reasons, especially since nature can’t exactly defend itself against a hyperkeystone species. Caring for those who cannot adequately defend themselves, especially non-humans, is my purpose. Being in nature feels more right than being in the city at times and I’d like to protect our safe place.

Lorenzo Contreras

What are your majors? Environmental science, certificates in environmental studies and Chican@ Latin@ studies

Expected graduation: May 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Within communities I’ve spent time in, including my own, it’s been rare to find a person (much less a group of people) that realize the importance behind our ecosystems and the role they play for our society. Being able to see these connections is necessary in order to be able to appreciate nature and everything it provides for us along with all other living organisms. I grew up in a home where all these things were appreciated, and it made me realize how much it meant to me and made me want to play a role in the conservation of these environments.

In the world we live in today there’s a declining number of resources we have at our disposal and not enough focus on those that are renewable. Eventually our useable water will deplete which is unfortunate as this resource is needed for an infinite amount of reasons which is why I find water treatment of extreme importance. You can be someone trying to make a change from an office but there’s nothing like making the change hands on.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? For those that ask about the Nelson Institute; it’s a hive of minds coming together to push towards a common goal of a sustainable and protected environment. The Nelson Institute confronts the challenge that is brought upon us by the rapidly changing world through intersections of classroom learning and community engagement. This is the place to be if you want to make a change.

Something few people know about you: I was born in California but moved to Milwaukee at a young age. My parents worked hard after they came from Mexico but wanted a better future for my siblings and I. That is how we ended up here in Wisconsin.

Something else about you? I am extremely interested in water treatment. This is something that is going to blow up in the years to come just because the way that countries like the U.S. are exploiting resources. It’s bizarre to me how something necessary to live cannot be provided to everyone in the world and is something that has to be paid for. I know there exists something that can be done and by joining CESP I know my fellow CESPers and I will be able to solve these kinds of problems.

Daniel Darlington

What are your majors? Environmental studies and economics

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 — we would go fishing, camping, and many other outdoor activities.

I have always been fascinated in learning about all aspects of the environment. I enjoy seeing and learning new environments just as much as the Wisconsin environment I have grown up in. Now, I am a senior studying economics and environmental studies, and I hope to combine both as a means of finding practical solutions to pressing environmental issues.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? I would tell them that CESP and the Nelson Institute are great ways to meet people with similar academic interest as well as get involved on campus and learn.

Something few people know about you: I like cooking, spending time outdoors, traveling, and most recently with Covid-19, reading and birding.

Something else about you? I’ve been trying to start gardening and just growing plants in general; I’ve had varied success.

Ana Diges

What are your majors? Materials science and engineering, certificate in environmental studies and in global health

Expected graduation: May 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My interest in the environment and its relation to community stems from my multicultural upbringing, where I was able to reflect on the places we live in through different perspectives. 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 where we lived in Spain. Experiences like these taught me the harmonious ways in which communities and land shape each other.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is a fantastic program for those interested in the intersectionality between subjects surrounding science, society and environment. The Nelson Institute coordinates programs like these, as well as countless talks, conferences and resources to grow our knowledge about how people interact with their surroundings.

Something few people know about you: I love learning about a place’s history and culture through cuisine!

Something else about you? I’m a project manager for an Engineers Without Borders – Ecuador Camarones potable water project on campus, where I help coordinate the work to bring safe water to a town of 500 people.

Andrew Dobbins

What are your majors? Agricultural business major with a certificate in environmental studies

Expected graduation: December 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 used to study forestry at Penn State and here at UW, so I love trees. You can find me searching out the biggest tree in the forest and giving it a huge hug! Check out my selfie with a 300-plus-year-old 55-inch DBH (diameter at breast height) white pine from Itasca State Park!

Salma Florencio

What are your majors? Environmental studies and communication arts

Expected graduation: May 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Just like many other people, I find comfort and relaxation in nature. I can remember many of my elementary school field trips to Cherokee Marsh where we would take nature walks, plant trees, and remove invasive species. These field trips began my appreciation for the environment and nature.

I took my first environment-related class in high school and in this environmental science class, I learned about the many environmental issues we are currently facing. And most of our projects in that class were brainstorming different possible ways to mitigate the issues. I have been interested in environmental studies ever since. I want future generations to be able to experience nature and the environment in the same ways I did. I hope I can give back to the community and help take care of the environment.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is a great way to connect with many different people who have the same interests as you! It is a safe place where you can combine your strengths with others and find ways to give back and connect with the community.

Something few people know about you: I enjoy watching and playing different sports. It is a fun way to be active and outdoors. I play on the women’s rugby team here at UW-Madison and I play soccer during the summer and winter in Madison (when we are not in the middle of a pandemic). And I have been recently getting into basketball, but I sadly found out that I am a terrible shooter.

Kyle Fossum

What are your majors? Mechanical engineering, with certificates in leadership, engineering for energy sustainability, mathematics, and environmental studies

Expected graduation: December 2021 or May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My interest in environment and the correlating links to community stems from the urgency that today’s circumstances force upon the conversation of climate change. It has never been more important to prioritize these things than today, right now.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? It is such a unique program with the most fantastic people. It is an extraordinary experience that allows you to learn a lot in a laid back environment.

Something few people know about you: I have a pet dog living with me here at college!

Matt Fox

What are your majors? Conservation biology

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? As a kid, I was shown nature in my neighborhood and the beauty and mystery of life around me. That childhood wonder has been with me throughout my life, expanding as nature became something outside my neighborhood. Through varying outdoor activities and academic opportunities, a love for nature is what got me invested in environmental work.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP gives back what you give to it. In other words, your experience is dependent on what you want to pursue, how you do so, and the way you relay that to your peers. It’s a place to comfortably challenge yourself and explore varying perspectives towards nature in general.

Something few people know about you: I took a film production class last semester. My favorite project was when we had to produce a documentary. I got to research and have an interview all about the album “Plantasia” by Mort Garson!

Clarissa Gomez

What are your majors? People-environment geography with certificates in integrated studies in science, engineering, and society and leadership

Expected graduation: May 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Growing up, I was always really curious about the natural world around me. I remember I used to binge-watch Planet Earth, eagerly looked forward to springtime when I would help my mother plant her garden, and even went as far as rescue abandoned baby wild rabbits and stray cats. If it involved the environment in some way, shape, or form, I was all over it. It wasn’t until college that my love for the environment really blossomed and I developed a passion for helping out the community. I began to seek fields that I was really interested in and soon, discovered the many ways that the environment and communities are interconnected.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is an amazing community of supportive and truly inspiring people! They always got your back and motivate me to do my absolute best.

Something few people know about you: I always start watching shows but never finish them.

Something else about you? I am involved in environmental education research on campus. My focus is on Latinx students/populations in rural Wisconsin.

Celeste Gunderson

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

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? While growing up in the city of Milwaukee, I had the privilege of living next to the Milwaukee River green space, where I continuously interacted with nature and the wildlife of Wisconsin. Each walk in the woods presented a new and exciting discovery of our environment; a wild turkey, a family of deer, a great horned owl, a lone coyote, or a once endangered and still scarce Butler Garter Snake.

This proximity to Wisconsin’s wildlife meant that the environment played a large role in my life from a very young age. These positive experiences have developed my desire to protect green spaces within every environment, therefore allowing everyone to have some form of access to the natural world.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is a wonderful way to meet other students who are interested in environmental issues. While we share the similarity of an environmental major or certificate, each student also comes with their own interests and majors which make discussions super interesting. The seminar highlights how career fields of all different backgrounds can be oriented towards environmental initiatives. CESP is also a great way to learn about environmental and community related opportunities offered at UW-Madison.

Something few people know about you: I volunteered at the Wisconsin Humane Society Wildlife Hospital two summers ago and had the chance to care for a variety of adorable baby wild animals, including baby possums, squirrels, and goslings.

Something else about you? I love running (especially trail running) because it is a great way to relieve stress while also getting to enjoy the outdoors!

Ryan Holdsworth

What are your majors? Mechanical engineering

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I grew up in the “environmental age.” The importance of recycling was always emphasized in school, I saw the mass transition to more energy efficient lighting fixtures and other electronics, I saw the importance of moving toward renewable sources of energy. I also learned that the largest two hurdles toward both energy independence and a sustainable future are a lack of technology, and the politics of it. I have no patience for the politics, but I believe with a career in engineering, I can aid in the first great hurdle.

Savannah Holt

What are your majors? International business, marketing, Spanish, and sustainability certificate

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My interest in the environment was inspired by a lot of different events that built upon each other over the past couple of years. I’m also still trying to figure out how my future career path can incorporate both sustainability and community elements. Since studying at UW-Madison, however, I’ve been inspired by living and working with the GreenHouse Learning Community and being involved with the Ethical and Responsible Business Network (ERBN).

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is a great way to meet a like-minded group of people on a large campus, and it has helped expose me to a lot of relevant material that is not covered in my traditional classes. If you’re interested in the intersections of environment and community, you should apply!

Something few people know about you: I’ve run three half-marathons with my mom and would love to complete a marathon at some point.

Something else about you? My favorite animal is a red panda, I love reading, and I’m an intern at the Office of Sustainability on campus.

Eryne Jenkins

What are your majors? Biology with a certificate in environmental studies

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? While majoring in a life science subject is beneficial for my desired career, the past two years on this path have revealed how important it is to engage in beyond one discipline. It was mandatory for me to take Environmental Studies 112: The Social Perspective freshman year for a study abroad program I am a part of on campus.

The class — and environmental studies as a discipline in general—challenges me to harness both the tools from my major of study and social science perspectives to address and understand the complexity of environmental problems. This is realized when perspectives from multiple disciplines are used to address community-based environment concerns.

Through my past internships with the Delaware Department of Transportation, I have engaged with the division to understand how the use of natural and synthetic resources by civil engineers affects local physicians’ patients of a certain age. Through similar and subsequent opportunities, I hope to use the interdisciplinary and critical thinking gained in my environment-based studies to effectively address the issues of equity, justice, risk reduction, and urban resilience through projects and studies as an environmental medicine physician.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is a great opportunity to connect and learn about relevant environmental efforts amongst peers and across campus. Both CESP and Nelson Institute are great at sharing information and opportunities to further learning!

Something few people know about you: I really enjoy learning languages. I am currently learning Mandarin Chinese and Serbo-Croatian.

Something else about you? This past fall, I connected with peers at the Midwest Climate Summit and together we launched an effort to collaborate and share waste-reduction initiatives across campuses in the region. I am motivated to continue this collaboration and further engage our local and regional community in waste-reduction.

Nessa Kana

What are your majors? Early childhood education

Expected graduation: 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I really love helping my community and hope to keep helping my community as I move on in life. I want people to be proud of me and want my community to look clean and respectful.

Edgar Kevorkian

What are your majors? Honors Mathematics Program majoring in mathematics, with a certificate in environmental studies

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I view the environment as a part of the community in which we all want to grow and flourish. For me, the environment is more than a place of trees, rivers, or mountains. Rather, it is a dynamic and complex organism without which human species cannot survive.

My love and passion for the environment developed in an unusual and extraordinary way. First, I enjoy learning patterns, and pattern recognition is fundamental to studying mathematics. Second, the environment constantly gives birth to a variety of patterns, some of which we may know, and some we may not. In other words, I began to value the significance of the environment through the language of mathematics. I believe it is mathematics that brought me nearer to the wonders of nature.

Since then, I developed my interest in learning about the environment such that I may better understand its strengths and weaknesses. I also realized that the basic knowledge of the environment is key to everyone in the world. The better we are educated about our planet as a single, global community, the faster we can confront the environmental challenges and offer sustainable solutions for all. Up to date, I strongly believe that the unity in the knowledge of the environment can make us better and caring citizens of the world.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? The CESP is an amazing program for those who seek to develop their leadership strategies, hone their communication and interpersonal skills, and deepen their knowledge in the social perspective of the environmental studies. The CESP has helped me to connect to a group of amazing people with whom I have worked on several projects regarding the environment.

Something few people know about you: I have published one research article about algebraic topology.

Something else about you? I work with another CESP member on a road salt community project for Marathon County (Wausau) to gather data and find environmental-friendly solutions to the spreading of road salt.

Jerimiah Koll

What are your majors? Economics, environmental studies, and statistics

Expected graduation: December 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Some of my best childhood memories come from field trips to a nearby national forest, while ideas of how the forest has been preserved and changed by human presence came much later, I’ve always felt a connection to the area. Once I entered high school I spent a lot of time talking about environmental issues and it led me to want to work in environmental policy. I knew that climate change was going to be the major issue of our day and I wanted to help solve it. I started to do some research in the topic and learned about community based solutions, to me they made the most sense, if a community is threated by climate change they should have the final word into how it’s fought.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? The CESP program has been a wonderful opportunity to truly integrate environmental studies ideas with other disciplines, in most other classes there is little discussion about community problem solving, getting the discussion about it helps foster a deeper understanding of these issues.

Something few people know about you: Every time people ask how tall I am I’ll say I’m an inch taller until people call me out about it.

Craig Kunkel

What are your majors? Environmental science, certificate in environmental studies

Expected graduation: May 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Environmental problems do not respect borders, nationality, cultural identities, or political affiliation. Just as how all ecosystems are connected, all people are stakeholders in the environment, though some more than others depending on the problem. Environmental problems are complex with multiple vectors and causes and, as a result, there is no single approach with which to solve them.

The most robust and pragmatic solutions are therefore likely to come from a collaboration of diverse people representing a broad range of scientific disciplines, life experience, practical skills. I joined the CESP so that I may develop my intellectual toolbox, through interactions with diverse stakeholders in the environment, so that I may be a part of solving the problems which impact us all.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? I have yet to see as diverse a group as this, working towards a common interest, on any college campus.

Something few people know about you: I was a troublemaker and a rebel for much of my youth. I could tell you stories that might make your jaw drop.

Something else about you? I welcome people to come with me on stream biodiversity surveys.

Doran Mackowski

What are your majors? Mechanical engineering major, certificate in engineering thermal energy systems

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I have been interested in the environment for as long as I can remember. I was raised in an environmentally conscience household at a time where environmental issues were constantly at the forefront of media, acid rain, ozone layer depletion, greenhouse emissions, etc. I have always appreciated nature and the outdoors and love to hike and camp.

Something else about you? My decision to return to school was in large part based on a desire to serve. I feel that almost every aspect of engineering can have significant environmental impact, from design and material selection, to production processes, to the end use. I would like to devote my professional life to using technology to mitigate negative human impact on our environment, likely in the energy sector through renewable energies and efficiency.

Chris Massey

What are your majors? Biochemistry and environmental studies

Expected graduation: May 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Growing up on Long Island, nature and the environment were always part of my upbringing. I was surrounded by beaches, forests, and water. My childhood friends and I would spend countless hours inventing and playing games in the woods.

As I got older, environmental activism caught my attention as it was an opportunity to share my passion for the environment with others. UW-Madison and CESP have allowed me many opportunities to both learn and expand this interest, while collaborating with those around me who have the same passion.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is an amazing program because everyone comes from different backgrounds and majors so we all have slightly varied perspectives and approaches to problems. This enables a wonderful community of students who can use their unique skills to problem solve and discuss together. Additionally the cohort style of the program lets you form great friendships with peers that you will continue to see for years to come.

Something few people know about you: I was going to major in AMEP (applied mathematics, engineering, and physics), but changed to biochemistry shortly after starting my research at the Carbone Cancer Center.

Sherine McManus

What are your majors? Civil engineering with a certificate in environment studies

Expected graduation: May 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My interest in the environment started from a young age as I would spend countless hours outside with my dad and brother either exploring, fishing, camping, or hiking. As I grew older my dad and I would go out to events hosted by his work to help clean up parks and learn more about what is being done to take care of them.

Then during my senior year, I took a STEM seminar class and we learned about environmental issues as well as creating a science fair project. My project focused on creating an ocean water filter made of cheap, recyclable materials. My interest in improving upon water quality and building better filters stemmed from there and has led me into learning more about the environment and trying to help leave it better.

Katelyn McVay

What are your majors? Global health, botany, and environmental studies with a certificate in leadership

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I understood what the concepts of environmental justice and equity truly meant. During this time period, I declared an environmental studies major and started to do some in depth research on various environmental issues and how they impacted specific communities. Through my courses, independent study, and personal observations, I realized that there are a variety of different ways that people interact with the environment and communities around them, and there are environmental disparities associated with different demographics and locations.

I have always had a deep passion and care for the world around me, and it is my personal mission to contribute toward something that allows people to have positive interactions with the environment as well as to promote wellbeing for communities and the natural world.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? Joining CESP or the Nelson Institute is a great way to connect with others who share similar interests and develop your own passions for the environment and the community. CESP has helped me learn how to collaborate with others, share my genuine passions and opinions on environmental issues, and be surrounded by a great community of people.

Something few people know about you: I have been a radio DJ for about two years now! I love music and talking about music, and my show has been a great outlet for me to express myself.

Something else about you? I love being outdoors, especially when I’m hiking or skiing!

Nat Meyer

What are your majors? Gender and women’s studies and a certificate in public policy

Expected graduation: December 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? All my best memories growing up were outside; spending springs on the toddler swing under the big oak tree, picking mulberries and dandelions from the yard for my mom, and making stinky stews with all the neighbor kids. It really instilled a love of nature and community in me and since then I have sought out ways to get involved and further help people and the environment.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is a super supportive community that really helps keep you grounded while you go through school. It has helped me feel more connected to other environmental students and be prepared for greater opportunities outside of academics.

Something few people know about you: I absolutely hate watermelon-flavored Jolly Ranchers, and most artificial watermelon candy!

Joshua Mitchell

What are your majors? Life science communication and environmental studies, with certificates in sustainability and digital studies

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I have always been interested in the environment from a young age, from collecting snails and frogs to reading Zoobooks to having Zoboomafoo on repeat. My childhood fostered my love for the environment, but as I grew up, I realized that environmental racism impacts people all over the world. I want to solve that problem and make sure the world is a better place for future generations.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is an amazing opportunity to build, grow, and learn about the environment and community.

Something few people know about you: I absolutely love cooking and ice skating.

McKenna Mulvey

What are your majors? Environmental studies and Scandinavian Studies

Expected graduation: May 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? During my freshman year of college, I completed a community service project in a neighborhood in Chicago that had not had access to clean water in over 10 years, and that experience determined the course of my college career and sparked the importance of environmentalism in my life. With my degrees, I hope I can use my privilege to help marginalized communities in ways that they need.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP has taught me how to meaningfully interact with communities that wish for support from those outside of said communities, and I hope I can provide that support someday. CESP has also connected me to people who have similar passions as me, and as a transfer student, I am grateful for the connections that I have built through the program.

Something few people know about you: With a Scandinavian studies major, I had to learn a Scandinavian language, så jeg har lært dansk (I have been learning Danish), and I am currently in a class that aims to get learners of all the Scandinavian languages to understand the others!

Thomas Myren

What are your majors? Environmental science, with a certificate in sustainability

Expected graduation: May 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I’m interested in the environment because of the major changes in our global climate we’ve witnessed over the last few years. I’m from rural Wisconsin, and it pains me to see us receive less and less snow each year, and the snow we do receive, coming much later in the year. I hope that we can allow future generations to experience the same natural environment that we currently enjoy today.

Breon Newble

What are your majors? Health promotion and health equity, and life sciences communication with certificates in global health, business management, and environmental studies

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My interest for the environment was inspired by today’s instances of environmental injustice and poor environmental planning. The way in which we handle the environments we live in is troubling, and have impacts that extend far beyond the condition of the environment. It wasn’t until I began studying here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that I realized the intensity of these issues and realized that I need to be involved in addressing them.

Showing concern for the environment is also showing concern for the health of communities and individuals as they’re directly related. I want to bring attention to how issues such as climate change and environmental degradation will be/are responsible for negatively impacting the health of millions of people.

Something few people know about you: I want to one day own a company. My first business venture would probably be me creating my own skin care/health products line.

Carmen Nightfall

What are your majors? Life sciences communications with a certificate in environmental studies

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? The ecology of our food, community, and environment are at the core for each to thrive, and overlap in areas among themselves as well. All three influenced and affected me as a child, and from this came my interest in all three individually, and also as a dynamic.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? As future ancestors, in CESP we learn to carry such a title with honor, compassion, and open-hearted eyes for our important legacy. The CESP family is a garden and corridor of learning, growth, and opportunity for the social and environmental ecologies of our lives and communities. The program helps us develop and hone our bearing, skills, and experience as we gain them while availing opportunities for applications and engagement experiences that serve our personal, academic, and professional lives as well as our communities.

Part of how we acquire these tools and experiences are through the valuable and unique interwoven mentorship strata and layers of methods built into the program and progression. In service of our values and communities, we collaborate and explore ways of bringing life-affirming change to issues that need a lighted path for new directions. Come add your light so that together they shine brighter — for finding steps in new directions as a future ancestor in training in CESP!

Something few people know about you: Carmen’s special human tricks are dexterous toes, for with either foot, I can pinch your nose! Naturally I love being barefoot when possible, and climbing trees.

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.

Isabelle Paulsen

What are your majors? Anthropology, classical humanities, and environmental studies with a certificate in archaeology

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I have been interested in the natural world since before I can remember. I’ve been told many stories about me futilely chasing robins and eating tomatoes straight off the vine like apples. There has never been a period where I have not wanted to wander among the outdoors.

But ideas of the environment and community came to the forefront of my mind when I interned as a naturalist at a nature center in high school. I was able to engage in public workshops and help lead summer camps for young children. I interacted with kids who had never connected with the environment and helped show them the wonders it could hold. And in the process, I learned so much too. My entire perspective changed about what the environment is and what I can do within it and for it.

I carry the lessons and insight that I learned that summer with me to this day and they influence a lot of the choices I have made. I am so grateful for all of the stones along the winding path that have led me to where I am and I hope to one day be able to help others find their ways too.

Nikki Prado-Solano

What are your majors? Geography with certificates in environmental studies and Chican@ and Latinx studies

Expected graduation: December 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? In a way, being raised Catholic and Mexican rooted most of the things I’ve done to the Earth, the environment, and my community. We grew vegetables and herbs every year, took care of the land, and took care of those around us. From recycling to thrifting and re-using different items, my family was environmentally conscious years before I even had the vocabulary for it.

My family and culture show love through food so I’ve seen how food is such an easy way to build community and have been able to be a part of that community-building on my own for some time now. I’ve been interested in environmental community work for as long as I can remember and as I continue my education at UW, I continue to research the effects and intersections between community work, the environment, and public health.

I want a career where I’m able to work toward sustainable solutions. I want future generations in Milwaukee to be able to go on walks through beautiful parks, take bike rides through paths that cut through the city, and be able to walk to grocery stores packed with fresh food. I want more for my community and environment and I hope to help make the changes necessary to achieve it.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? Apply! Not only have I met some amazing people through CESP, I’ve also been able to build a small community of others who often share knowledge about topics I’m interested in through a different lens than I would’ve initially (all of us have environmental studies backgrounds, but with an emphasis on different things). It’s a lot of fun!

Something few people know about you: I love to build things with my hands! My dad and uncles love to put things together and have all of my life so when I’m home, you can catch me in the backyard with them, wielding a power saw and tool belt. My partner is also an amateur woodworker, which makes our date nights a blast.

Alina Prahl

What are your majors? Double major in environmental studies and anthropology, with certificates in art history, archaeology, and American Indian studies

Expected graduation: Spring/fall 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? There was not a single moment that sparked a passion for environmental and community work — I cannot pinpoint a time it did not exist. It was certainly present by second grade when I began the “Healthy Earth Club” in my elementary school and has only grown and deepened since. I grew up hiking and paddling in Wisconsin with my family, which I am profoundly grateful for, and continue to try to be outside as much as possible.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? It has been a privilege and a joy to experience and learn about new elements of environmental and community work through the Nelson Institute.

Grace Puc

What are your majors? Environmental sciences

Expected graduation: May 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Growing up I always had an intense fascination with the world and sought to learn, see and do as much as I could. My love for Earth was definitely fostered by my dad with whom I have spent my entire life hiking and travelling (to 10 countries!); I hope to never stop exploring our beautiful planet. Studying environmental science in college means becoming an advocate for the Earth.

Climate change-induced environmental degradation is the most pressing problem the human race currently faces, and I have fervent aspirations to become a part of the remedial process; it is my intention to take advantage of my time here as I want to do everything in my power to preserve our world’s beauty, conserve its resources, and ensure its health for generations to come.

My passion for protecting the environment has been prevalent since I was young. As kids, my best friend and I would take a bag and walk around our neighborhood streets picking up trash. We would also have lemonade stands to raise money for our “charity” we called “Pennies for Polar Bears” when we learned that they were endangered as a result of climate change. It wasn’t until AP environmental science in high school that I realized this passion was something that I could study and eventually turn into a career!

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is more than just a seminar for an hour every week — it’s a network that has provided me with connections to events, organizations, students, staff and beyond that in a lot of ways is so much more valuable to me than traditional “school knowledge.”

Something few people know about you: Both of my dad’s parents immigrated here from Slovenia when they were teenagers making me 50 percent Slovenian. I went to Slovenian school at a cultural center near my home town for eight years.

Something else about you? I am co-president of Campus Food Shed!

Connor Raboine

What are your majors? Human development and family studies, communication arts with certificates in food systems, environmental studies, and global health

Expected graduation: December 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Food. The first organization that I joined when I came here was Slow Food UW, a nonprofit dedicated to providing “good, clean, fair food for all.” Seeing what a great community SFUW was drove me to further understand what their mission meant to me.

As I reflect, good food embodies flavor and creativeness, but also a satiation that isn’t just physical, but rather a sense of community. Similarly, clean food should not just only describe the physical nature of the food, but also the practices used in producing it. Farming methods should be sustainable with the health of not only those consuming the food in mind, but the environment as a whole.

Lastly, fair means accessible to everyone regardless of socio-economic class. In a world that is increasingly championing exclusivity, the basic necessity that food is should not be a part of that trend. With this in mind, I see food as an underutilized tool that can reverse that trend and create a more cohesive and inclusive society. The relatability of food makes it the perfect catalyst for community outreach. We bond through experiences, and nothing is more prominent in our shared humanity than the desire for great-tasting food.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? Although I have only known CESP in its virtual format, I can say for certain that everyone has made it a priority to connect with their fellow members. In this way, it has really been an incredible experience meeting with so many great people from such a diverse set of backgrounds.

Something few people know about you: In my free time, I make wine from different types of wild edibles or produce I buy from the farmers’ market! Oftentimes, it does not turn out, but I keep on trying. To date, the best wine I have made is rhubarb. My roommate actually made me some labels to put on my bottles for my birthday this year.

Something else about you? Over the last couple of months, I have spent much of my time writing grants for the nonprofit that I co-direct. Grant writing is incredibly exhausting, but it is so rewarding. Knowing that you’re able to enact change as a result of the grant funds is really a good feeling.

Kaleb Rakers

What are your majors? Environmental science and political science with a certificate in environmental studies

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Since I was 5 my family took a vacation every summer in our pop-up camper. These vacations became trips to national parks since my parents want to visit every park in their lifetime. Seeing these most beautiful parts of America helped build my connection to nature and really want to preserve it so I could go on the same trips with my kids.

My favorite parks so far have been Crater Lake and Isle Royale. I also participated in Boy Scouts which gave me the unique opportunity to go backpacking in New Mexico. Being able to watch the sunrise from the side of a mountain and illuminate the mountains and desert in the distance deepened my appreciation for nature.

Camille Schmidt

What are your majors? Civil and environmental engineering with a certificate in environmental studies

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Pursuing civil engineering has been a long term dream of mine, since holding multiple internships in the industry I have seen first hand how developments often overlook how they will impact both the environment and community. I wish to advocate for these injustices that are brushed aside. Since joining CESP a full year ago now, I have been exposed to so many students and faculty who share this same passion and they drive me to keep working towards a better future that I can create as an engineer.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? There is always a place on campus to find “your people.” High school me envisioned being a part of solely engineering based organizations. While it is nice to surround yourself with people who are very very similar to you, joining CESP has been one of my best college decisions yet. While we all share similar interests and passions, I have been exposed to such a diverse group of people and different ways of thinking that it has helped shape me and my career path.

Amanda Shalit

What are your majors? Botany

Expected graduation: May 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? From a young age, my mother instilled in me a sense of respect for the natural world around me. She taught me to take only pictures and leave only footprints, to leave my environment better than I had found it, and to listen to the wisdom of the Lorax in my favorite childhood book. I gardened with my mom every year and we spent time identifying the plants and animals we found as we explored the forest preserve near my house.

As I grew up, I started learning about issues like deforestation, air pollution, and worse, all things that threatened nature. My hope in choosing my college, my major, and my steps forward from here is that I can do my part to help curb rising environmental concerns that exist around the world today and protect the planet however I can.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? I would tell students who are interested in CESP or the Nelson Institute that no matter who they are or where they come from, there is a place for them. I would encourage them to look into CESP and all that it has to offer to both the students at Madison as well as the surrounding community.

Something few people know about you: I can’t swim!

Elizabeth Smith

What are your majors? Environmental science, zoology, environmental studies certificate

Expected graduation: May 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? What inspired me most about working to take care of the environment was, as cheesy as it sounds, all of the Planet Earth episodes they showed us in elementary and middle school. Watching those videos which showcased such beautiful ecosystems and animals and then hearing about topics such as climate change motivated me to pursue a degree in something that I could use to help the cause in some way. I think it is important to take care of this beautiful Earth we were given, not only for ourselves, but for future generations, and I think taking care of the environment around us creates a sense of community, because it is something that all of us share, which is really cool.

Megan Spielbauer

What are your majors? Economics and environmental studies, certificates in public policy and Chican@ and Latin@ studies

Expected graduation: December 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Freshman year, I enrolled in an environmental studies class and learned about the popularization of monoculture grass lawns and their environmental costs. Growing up in a Minnesota suburb, I grew up playing on my lawn and making some money mowing it once I was older. That class made me realize that American society essentially convinced itself that grass lawns were a necessity despite their ecologically damaging qualities, which pushed me to look deeper into my understanding of human-nature relations and enroll in more environmental studies courses.

Both my economics and environmental studies classes show me how American economic development continues to rely on the exploitation of the environment and human labor force globally. Therefore, environmental justice is the only form of environmentalism that I consider to be meaningful as it combines environment and community, centers marginalized voices, and emphasizes accountability.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? I would tell other students that the Nelson Institute has some great professors and classes that will expand your understanding of what constitutes the “environment.”

Something few people know about you: I’m a pro on Wii Sports Boxing.

Something else about you? I really enjoy reading outside, so I am excited for the spring when I will be able to read sections of our assigned book and do other assignments on my porch.

Emma-Kate Stecker

What are your majors? Civil and environmental engineering with a certificate in environmental studies

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? For me, my interest in the environment was always obvious from a young age. I grew up in a very active family that valued integrating nature into our upbringing. As a kid I became fascinated by the natural world and every chance I got would be spent exploring a lakeshore, edge of a forest or an overturned rock.

Eventually, I realized how important it was to protect these wonderful places so others, too, could make the same discoveries. This idea motivated me to explore ways I could instill change in my own community. Since then, I’ve worked on local and international projects to provide infrastructural and ecological improvements to hopefully create a more sustainable future for the communities involved.

Something few people know about you: I love bird watching!

Something else about you? I am the vice president of the Engineers Without Borders Chapter on campus, and work on the Camarones Potable Water Project with fellow CESP member Ana Diges! The project is based in Ecuador and we are working on designing a distribution system to provide safe drinking water for the community.

Joseph Stone

What are your majors? Biological systems engineering

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My interest in the environment started at a young age. I would spend countless hours with my family and dog at local parks. I now love to visit national parks and lakes around Wisconsin. With Madison having such good access to two lakes, I now find myself swimming at least twice a week in either Lake Monona or Mendota. This love of nature helped me to decide to major in biological systems engineering.

With my major, I plan to improve many of the agricultural machines to make them more efficient and environmentally friendly. I hope to one day make a noticeable impact on the environment.

Something few people know about you: I love to swim and am a current member of the UW Swim Club.

Tien Vo

What are your majors? Environmental sciences and environmental studies certificate

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I don’t know what inspired my interest in the environment, but I think a part of the reason is because of the summer camp I went to when I was a kid. Every summer for six summers, I attended a summer camp located in the woods of Wisconsin. The camp preached four virtues, one of which was: “Every living being has inherent value.” This meant that the other campers, the trees, and even the mosquitos that bit us had inherent value.

While I don’t exactly know what inspired my interest in the environment, I do know that my interest in the community was inspired by the environment. Throughout my college career, I’ve realized that I can’t address environmental issues with science alone. I need to approach these issues with the community and our society in mind. Environmental justice is inextricably linked to issues such as racial justice, workers’ rights, and health. To achieve environmental justice, we have to address the concerns that plague our communities.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? It can be overwhelming trying to find your place on campus at a big school like UW-Madison. CESP can help connect you to like-minded students and help you build a community that will support you throughout your years here. If you’re interested in the environment and community and want to meet people from a wide range of backgrounds, consider applying to join CESP!

Something few people know about you: Despite having lived in Wisconsin for over 14 years, I am not a big fan of cheese.

Something else about you? I’m interested in the environmental impacts of war. When people think of environmentally destructive anthropogenic activities, they usually think of activities like farming, logging, and urbanization. However, I would argue that war is also a significant anthropogenic activity that we need to look out for. My personal mission in life is to bring attention to war and its effects on the environment.

Kalie Whitehorse

What are your majors? Psychology and environmental studies with a certificate in American Indian Studies

Expected graduation: May 2022

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I’m from Madison, Wisconsin, so being near the lakes sparked my interest in the environment because I was seeing how poorly our lakes were being treated and how much the local ecosystems were struggling with algae blooms in the summer.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? This is my third semester in CESP and I have made so many connections with other students in the program and it feels like a family whenever I go to class. I really enjoy being able to see familiar faces and it helps make a large university feel smaller.

Something few people know about you: In my free time, I really like to read, take walks on the bike path along Lake Monona, and spend time with my two yellow labs, Jordy and Lola.

Sophia Ziehr

What are your majors? International studies and environmental studies; certificates in German and sustainability

Expected graduation: May 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? When I was a kid, my parents started a grocery store that sells only just, local, and organic foods. I grew up in and around this store and quickly learned how important environmentally friendly foods were and how much they impacted the community.

In high school, I was able to travel to Germany. There I saw an entire country that made sustainability a priority and I was struck how accessible it was to every citizen. This experience opened my eyes to how it was possible for the environment to be a priority and how far the U.S. had to go to catch up. This experience, along with my love for travel and the natural world, cemented my desire to get a degree in environmental studies. I hope to help make sustainable living attainable for people around the globe.