Current Students

Kendi Aaron

What is your major? Conservation biology

Expected graduation: May 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Freshman year I took Environmental Studies 112: the Social Perspective because I had to fill a general ed requirement. When I was taking that class I would talk to my family and friends non-stop about what I was learning. I learned about communities fighting for the basic rights to clean water and food sovereignty. I learned how race of a community is the best indicator to determine where pollutants are dumped. I heard and read so many stories about people fighting for things they should not have to fight for.

That class set me on a completely different track than what I came into college with. I now want my life to be dedicated to helping my community and other marginalized communities to fight for their environmental rights. Since that first class, I have taken many more that have continued to open my world view to the fight and struggle of people around the world trying to protect their environment.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? When it comes to CESP, I am surrounded by people studying various disciplines alongside their environmental studies component. I have been exposed to people who are trying to bring sustainability and environmental justice to fields of work that have historically ignored these concerns. It is inspiring to see others willing to put in the work. I am excited to utilize the lessons from the classroom in real life.

Something few people know about you: Few people know that I used to want to be an astronaut when I was younger. I now just enjoy the idea of traveling through space via my sci-fi book collection.

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!

Alivia Arredondo

What are your majors? Environmental science and conservation biology with an American Indian Studies certificate

Expected graduation: May 2024

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? In high school, I started to get more involved with social justice, and what social justice meant. Part of this was coming to the realization that social justice and environmental justice go hand in hand. One can’t exist without the other. Ever since then, I started getting more involved with climate justice organizations and clubs. A lot of these were not only about helping the planet, but about also supporting local communities and POC voices.

A lot of the time, environmental justice can look like a lot of white people talking. However, that is not what the reality of environmental justice is. My point is, what really inspired my interest in the environment and the community was the opportunity to learn from POC leaders, like Winona LaDuke, and apply those teachings to my own life and others.

Jordyn Benn

What is your major? Civil engineering

Expected graduation: May 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Growing up walking distance from Lake Michigan and right across the street from a county park, I have always enjoyed experiencing all the beautiful things Earth has to offer. I always loved walking through the woods, looking at flowers and animals, and watching the leaves change color in the fall. I believe everyone can benefit from learning more about the environment and how we can have positive interactions with it. I have also always been very involved in my local community and want to continue to make an impact in Madison and on the UW campus.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? I enjoy coming to the CESP seminar and working with the Nelson Institute because it is a very supportive and engaging community. Throughout the day I work with mostly other engineering majors, so it is a nice change to come to a class with people of all majors and backgrounds! CESP has also helped me to look at the world in different perspectives that I can utilize later on in my career.

DeJah Broaster

What is your major? Community and environmental sociology

Expected graduation: May 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? The absence of opportunities for my community to engage with the natural environment made it more appealing. I took advantage of my senses, absorbing the colors, textures, and sounds of the environment when the weather was bearable enough to do so.

In middle school, I was given the opportunity to attend a science camp in Wyoming. Everything around me was either green or some other Earth tone. The air was unfathomably fresh. The only non-human sounds came from birds, the creek, and the rocks beneath my feet. It was nice, but I felt like I didn’t belong. Where I was compared to where I came from were two completely different worlds. I felt undeserving of an experience that I tried for so long to imitate.

The problem was not that I was undeserving but that I knew other people needed access to this same opportunity. Now, I want to be a part of extending the branch for city kids like me to explore their love of nature and absorb all that they can.

Margo Butler

What is your major? Art education

Expected graduation: May 2024

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I have always felt deeply connected to the natural world. The forest has always been a place where I feel truly at home. I am fascinated by human’s connection to and part of nature and in discovering how we can return to living in a symbiotic relationship with nature. As humans we have an interdependence on the Earth to live and I believe returning to this truth will strengthen our relationships with our communities, ourselves, and the larger web of the natural world. I am also intrigued by the role art and creativity play in our connection to nature.

Samantha Ceisel

What are your majors? Environmental science with certificates in engineering for energy sustainability and developmental economics

Expected graduation: May 2024

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I grew up on a small farm where we spent a great deal of time playing in the dirt or running around barefoot. To me nature was a central part of my life and as I grew, my love for its beauty, its ecosystems, and endless capabilities grew with it as well. My family instilled the importance of taking care of your environment, and not taking it for granted. But the older I got, the more I saw the mistreatment of nature and lack of access to safe ways to engage with nature. My goal then became to protect the environments I could, and be a steward for the environment and everything that inhabits it. Now in college I have found many new approaches in being a steward, approaching conservation through policy, science and education.

Ashley Cheung

What are your majors? Conservation biology and community and environmental sociology

Expected graduation: May 2024

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I grew up on the west coast of Canada, where I attended an outdoor education program that taught me how to appreciate nature and deepen my relationship with it, which ignited my interest in understanding the relationship between communities and the environment, and how to facilitate more interdependence between the two in the midst of climate change and capitalism.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is a foundation for students to connect and build trust and community that is necessary for societal change. It’s refreshing to be able to talk about things that matter, like how to participate in intentional service, but also to simply enjoy each others’ presence. Other CESP students inspire me and remind me that I am not alone.

Something few people know about you: When I was growing up, I had three foster brothers.

Anything else? Last year, I was the sustainability chair for Associated Students of Madison, and this year I am a sustainability campaign coordinator. I would love to spread the word about fossil fuel divestment and involve more students!

Ellie Crabb

What are your majors? Environmental studies and geography (physical), with a certificate in engineering for energy sustainability

Expected graduation: May 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? When I think about what inspired my interest in the environment, I can’t think of one specific instance. My interest in the environment was inspired by several different events that continue to build on each other as I get older and continue learning about the world we live in.

One special event that comes to mind is my first backpacking trip. Spending long periods of time in nature and watching the environment interact in its natural ways made me realize how fragile our Earth is, and how important it is to protect and preserve it.

Access to environmental education was very limited in high school, so this became a subject I explored and learned more about in my own time. Until I got to college, I was unaware of the wide range of education and career opportunities in the environment. The ability to take such a variety in coursework was another instance in which my interest peaked. As I continued my studies and became more aware of environmental issues, the more passionate I became. Although I am especially interested in the energy and environmental policy field, any career in the environment would be rewarding.

MaKayla Erdmann

What are your majors? Biological systems engineering (natural resources and environmental engineering track) with certificates in environmental studies, public policy, and engineering for energy sustainability

Expected graduation: May 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Throughout my childhood, my parents instilled in me a love for nature that has significantly impacted my view on the world and my relationship to the environment. I grew up camping, hunting, boating, and travelling to numerous national parks while also growing food in our family’s garden and raising various animals. Not to mention, my father as an agriscience teacher emphasized the value of the environment and taught me how it can be negatively impacted by a multitude of other factors and how it is our duty to preserve it.

Growing up in a rural town also made it easy to notice this importance since environmental conditions determined the livelihoods of the farmers around us, and detriments to the environment itself impacted the condition of our local natural resources and the daily activities I’d come to love. This personal connection from my community to the environment motivated me to learn more about environmental science and the influence of public policy as well as localized community efforts in protecting the environment, and it continues to be a main interest in my college career.

The most pressing issues in society today relate to the intersectionality of race, public health, politics, and environmental concerns. Addressing these issues requires science and advocacy, but most importantly, it first requires community-based efforts that have direct impacts on the surrounding people and resources in order to establish truly sustainable changes.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? I would encourage anyone interested to get involved with the Nelson Institute through their classes or any events that they hold and to join CESP. CESP gives you the ability to meet so many interesting people from diverse backgrounds that all share a common interest in the environment and creating solutions to the challenges we face today. It is truly unlike any other experience I have had on campus and allows you to work on your personal and professional skills in a very collaborative setting.

Something few people know about you: From when I was about 6 up until the end of high school, I raised market pigs every summer to show at local county fairs. It was very challenging and took a lot of dedication, but it is one of the most impactful experiences I have ever had on who I am today. It also inspired my interest in the connections between agriculture and environmental stewardship and its related management practices.

Anything else: In high school, I reinstated our school’s environmental club and implemented a school-wide composting program to reduce the amount of cafeteria food waste from going into landfills. We diverted several hundred pounds of food waste that ended up being used to fertilize our school’s greenhouse plants. More recently, I have been involved in a coalition working with the Office of Sustainability to reinstate UW–Madison’s composting program as well.

Brianna Fay

What are your majors? Chemical engineering, with certificates in biology in engineering, engineering for energy sustainability, and environmental studies

Expected graduation: December 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Moving 16 times, living in five different states, and jumping back and forth between eastern and western hemispheres has shown me a global perspective on the ways the world is being hit with the consequences of climate change. The chemical industry is a key player in creating and solving these environmental issues and I want to be part of the solution.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? I would tell other students that CESP is about learning how to be a good community partner and allows you to dive deeper into environmental topics you might not be familiar with through book readings and peer discussion.

Something few people know about you: Few people know that one of my favorite activities is drinking coffee and watching the sunrise.

Anything else? I will be volunteering through Badger Volunteers as a Food Pantry Host at the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank this semester.

Ann Franks

What is your major? Environmental science

Expected graduation: May 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My main inspiration for my interest in the environment was growing up in an agricultural community, where I was able to take agricultural classes in my middle school and high school. In these classes I learned about environmental current events which made me concerned about the future of the earth, ultimately causing me to declare my major in environmental science.

For the community aspect, my family has always been active in volunteering, and I was in the Lion’s Club in high school that required community service hours, which made me more passionate about being involved in giving back to the community. My church at home was also centered around participating in local projects to benefit the community, and participating in those projects gave me the drive to get involved in my own community-led projects.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? If a classmate or fellow student asked me about CESP or the Nelson Institute, I would tell them to join if they have any interest in sustainability or helping the community at all. CESP has opened my eyes to the importance of learning other people’s stories, and working in a community that is not your own is the best way to learn about other perspectives and ways of life. CESP has helped me think about my future plans after graduation, along with opportunities for jobs, seminars to attend, and professionals to talk to. The Nelson Institute and CESP provide many resources, whether that be for getting involved in the environment, leadership opportunities, or just fun events with passionate people.

Something few people know about you: Something interesting about me that not many people know is that I love making art, but I change mediums often. This summer I crocheted a top, wrote poetry, painted, and made jewelry for myself and friends.

Anything else? In high school I was surrounded by agriculture and nature, so I always knew I would be doing something with natural resources or sustainability, but ever since I took public health in college, I realized how broad environmentalism really is and how it has to do with everything around us, including neighborhoods, the distribution of goods and resources, and so many other important things that would not primarily be put in the topic of the environment. CESP also broadened my eyes to this, reiterating the importance of the diversity that is environmentalism and sustainability.

Robert Hall

What are your majors? Genetics and genomics and history with honors, with a certificate in excellence in stem cell sciences

Expected graduation: May 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My interest in the environment is spurred by my curiosity about the natural world and humanity’s place in it, especially in terms of evolution and ecology. My attention to community is driven by my desire to challenge myself, by tackling problems which have challenged me.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? For students new or unfamiliar with CESP and the Nelson Institute, I would argue that this program and institute is one of the few opportunities to practice the type of community work we often learn about in other classes.

Something few people know about you: Some things about myself that few people know is I am aiming to build a program called Liberated Intellects to help formerly incarcerated individuals who seek to better themselves through education, and I have only started traveling since March of 2022, but by March of 2023 I will have traveled to two new continents, Puerto Rico, and many different states.

Grace Halstead

What are your majors? Environmental science and geology

Expected graduation: May 2024

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My interest in the environment stemmed from a camping trip I took with my uncle the summer before my junior year of high school. Spending a week submerged in the wilderness while disconnected from the rest of the world truly opened my eyes to the importance of protecting nature and our environment. Being exposed to the outdoors at a young age undoubtedly drove my passion for the environment and is why I chose to study environmental science.

During my first two years at UW–Madison I took a variety of environmental studies courses that expanded my knowledge and continued my interest in the topic. One class gave me the opportunity to see how our UW community interacts with our environment and the university’s sustainability efforts. It showed me that however far we may have come in our efforts to fight climate change, curb pollution, and advocate for environmental justice, we still have more work to do. That’s why I am thrilled to be in CESP, surrounded with peers who are focused on similar issues.

Joya Headley

What are your majors? Community and environmental sociology and health promotion and health equity. I also have a certificate in African cultural studies.

Expected graduation: May 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? What inspired my interest in the environment and the community is realizing how connected we are to the natural world. I am just as connected to the environment, as the environment is connected to me. We live on such a beautiful planet, and I believe it is the duty of all who live here, to advocate and show love to our home. My interest in the environment and community first developed from hearing the stories of my ancestors and the ways they engaged with the environment in the most beautiful ways. In addition, the way the environment has been such a beautiful factor in their lives, and throughout time, and my gratitude and appreciation for this planet grows more everyday. In addition, I come from communities who have engaged with the environment to not only promote well-being, but to resist oppressive systems and strengthen community. The environment is very special to me and my existence, and the intersections between that are beautiful.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? One thing I would say is to definitely cherish your time in CESP. I think in college, everyone is on their own individual grind to get to where they want to be. However, it is so important to realize that the “grind” doesn’t have to be individual, and most of the time, it isn’t. CESP reminds you of that. It’s always such an amazing experience to be in community with people who share the same passions as you, and to be supported by them.

Something few people know about you: I have a very odd way of snapping my fingers!

Anything else? I work at a student garden where we grow free vegetables!

Lily Herling

What are your majors? Community and environmental sociology with certificates in sustainability and German

Expected graduation: May 2024

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Coming into college, I had no clue what I wanted to major in, let alone do with the rest of my life. Dad encouraged me to just look through the UW-Madison major and certificate catalog until something caught my eye. I saw several things I might be interested in (journalism, international studies, environmental studies) but when the community and environmental sociology major popped up, I was sold because it seemed the perfect combination of my passions.

I have always enjoyed spending time outside, but my interest in environmentalism didn’t start until high school. I had several powerhouse friends who wanted to take direct action in response to climate change and other social issues so, wanting to be involved with what they cared about, I joined in with their climate demonstrations, school strikes, and social media campaigns. Through the initiative of my friends and like-minded community members we met, I grew to care deeply about the state of our planet.

I think I have my mom to thank for my interest in community involvement. She is one of the most selfless, caring, and hard-working people I know. I didn’t fully appreciate this as a child, but growing up I realized that she is the kind of person I want to be, someone who seeks to bless and support those around them. I am excited for the opportunity to learn more about combining my twin passions in practical, meaningful ways through CESP.

May Jagodzinski

What are your majors? Global health and environmental studies

Expected graduation: May 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I chose to major in global health and environmental studies because I believe access to quality and affordable health care is a fundamental right, and one of the many crucial aspects to making a healthy community. Equally, health is more than just the medicalization, and working to mend the systemic injustices in our food resources, education, and housing needs immediate action.

While federal level governance can be full of gridlock and polarizing, local governance offers an expeditious process in amplifying voices and seeing immediate change. A community only knows the needs of its own community best, and I hope to work in local policies that decrease systematic barriers that are limiting the process of change and increase inclusion.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is a network of supportive, environmentally friendly centered individuals. It is a welcoming space where we share campus events, discuss and debate environmental topics, and learn about holistic community engagement. I am forever grateful to be a part of this program, as it has introduced me to life-long friends and unique perspectives.

Something few people know about you: I was afraid of the dark until my freshman year of high school.

Anything else? I studied abroad spring 2022 in Wageningen, Netherlands. During this time, I traveled to 12 different countries and made life-long friendships that span across continents. Everyone says it’s life changing, but it is LIFE CHANGING, so if you ever get the opportunity, be adventurous and study abroad!

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.

Eliza Lindley

What are your majors? Environmental sciences; life sciences communication; sustainability certificate

Expected graduation: May 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Every time I am asked this question, it always comes back to a course I took in fifth grade called “Journaling, Biology, and Beyond.” I fondly recall assignments which entailed tromping around my backyard to listen to bird calls and identifying different types of evergreen needles.

But most important of all was the main text for the course — Aldo Leopold’s “A Sand County Almanac.” Wrapped up in vibrant prose detailing his observations of the natural world is Leopold’s thoughtful environmental ethic, an outlook that remains with me to this day. His work instilled in me a fervent desire to protect the wonders of our environment, large and small, with the recognition that we ourselves are embedded in that global ecology.

Since then, I’ve come to realize that community is the foundation of what it means to be human, and safeguarding our planet for future generations demands that we lean into its undeniable strength.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP can be whatever you want it to be! Leaning into the many things it has to offer (community, connections, professional development, personal reflection) will enhance both your experience in the program and your college experience as a whole.

Something few people know about you: My freshman year of college, I had the honor of joining the University Theater production of “Julius Caesar” as a bass drum player! I was mostly there to add dramatic effect and enhance the play, but this also meant that I got to sit on the stage in a soldier costume and watch each performance unfold.

Savannah Lipinski

What are your majors? Geology and geophysics, Jewish studies

Expected graduation: May 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? The first time I remember hearing the phrase “climate change” was in 2005 as I sat on the floor in my grandmother’s basement watching my former home and birthplace, New Orleans, Louisiana, be demolished by hurricane Katrina. I watched as my mother wept and knew, even at just 8 years old, that this would be the issue of my lifetime. Even at a young age, I knew that it would take community support and engagement in order to save the world from the devastating effects of climate change.

Growing up, I was always fascinated with the science of the natural world, choosing to spend my time outdoors collecting bugs or simply observing the processes occurring around me. I knew, even as a child, that I wanted to make a career out of studying and advocating for the beautiful planet that we live on. By the time of my Bat Mitzvah, at 13 years old, I knew that the earth not only needed advocating for, but that it was a Jewish value to do so. At that point, there weren’t many Jewish organizations whose specific focus was fighting for environmental justice. I knew that I wanted that to be my career.

As a teenager and young adult, I became very active in environmental organizing and education, and in particular, I fell in love with being an environmental educator when I took on the role of teva (Hebrew for nature) specialist at the summer camp I work at. I love working within and throughout the community to share my love of the environment and inspire action within my community through education and empowerment. I hope that through this experience, I can refine my skills as an environmental leader and learn how to engage broad and diverse communities.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is an incredible opportunity to meet students from a variety of backgrounds and majors and build your leadership skills. It allows you to form invaluable personal and professional relationships on campus around deeply meaningful topics like the environment, community, and identity. Also, sometimes there’s free food.

Something few people know about you: I’ve never lived in one place for more than four years. When I graduate from UW, Madison will be the place I have lived the longest.

Anything else? My dream is to start a Jewish farming cooperative.

Doran Mackowski

What is your major? Mechanical engineering

Expected graduation: December 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.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? The Community Environmental Scholars Program is a supportive environment for growth and self-reflection. CESP is a fantastic opportunity to engage with a relatively diverse group of highly motivated and passionate people that share some similar interests. I was surprised at how much I could learn with such a short time commitment, all while still having a fun time with good people.

Something few people know about you: I have attended over 500 concerts.

Something else about you? My senior interdisciplinary design project was working with a team of fellow student engineers to design and lay out an HVAC system for a 20,000 square-foot, single-story office building with the intention of reducing energy consumption and running cost, while meeting or exceeding all the requirements of the client and applicable codes and standards. I hope to pursue a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, focusing on thermal energy systems to further my ability to increase efficiency in this sector.

Sherine McManus

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

Expected graduation: December 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.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is a great opportunity to meet people from all different sides of campus and learn more and foster discussions about environmental issues. It helps to make the campus feel smaller and provides a chance to learn and hear from people outside of your major who bring in new views and experiences.

Something few people know about you: I can’t watch a movie without looking up how it ends.

Joshua Mitchell

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

Expected graduation: December 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 visiting the local garden in Washington, D.C., to watching nature documentaries. My childhood fostered my love for the environment, but when I grew up I realized that there are serious issues that threaten what I have grown to love. It takes a community to combat problems like climate change and environmental injustice, and I want to contribute to this fight.

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 intersections between the environment and community.

Something few people know about you: I play guitar, I am a vegetarian, and I love going to concerts!

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? My interest in the environment comes from witnessing our environment change firsthand as I grew up. I’ve watched winters grow shorter and warmer, and we struggle to receive any significant snowfall by December or January most years. It doesn’t feel right to me. Future generations deserve to enjoy the same benefits and healthy planet that we currently have, and they don’t deserve to be handed a crumbling world. I want to make a difference, however small, to give them a healthy planet.

I’m interested in the community from my upbringing in a small town. Everybody knew each other, and we always helped anyone who needed it. It was a wonderful way to grow up, and I want to spread that idea of community, and friendliness, to anywhere or anyone that I can.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? Other students who know nothing about CESP or the Nelson Institute are missing out! CESP is a fantastic program that brings together like-minded individuals who are interested in the environment and allows us to create a network with them. This way, we can check in with each other, as well as help each other find new opportunities for personal and professional development. CESP assists us with our professional development while keeping an eye on the community aspect of our work.

CESP has given me a chance to learn a lot more about my own values, as well as the type of work that I wish to do after graduation. CESP has helped me to feel more comfortable in my own beliefs, as well as to feel more comfortable alongside my peers. I am forever grateful to be a part of CESP, and I look forward to seeing where we each go!

Something few people know about you: Few people know that I have a twin sister, who is very different from me. We may argue and not get along sometimes, but we’ve got a bond where we’ll always have each other’s backs.

Katie Porubcan

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is a great program and resource for students on campus to get more connected with Madison, the university, and other like-minded students. I’ve met so many interesting and inspiring people through the program, and it’s encouraged me to become more involved in my own communities.

Something few people know about you: Not many people know this about me, but I lived in Germany my junior year of high school. I lived with an amazing host family, attended school there, and really got to know the country and the language. This was probably one of the coolest experiences of my life, and I can’t wait to go back to visit!

Anything else? During my second semester with CESP, I will be volunteering with Rooted at Troy Gardens for my Team 2 project. I’m really excited to work with such an amazing organization, and it’s great that CESP provides the space for me to be able to have these experiences and learn from them in mindful ways.

Journey Prack

What are your majors? Entomology with an environmental studies certificate

Expected graduation: May 2024

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Although insects make up a little over half of all animal species on Earth and are about 80%–90% of all living organisms, there are few people who study entomology. Little is known about insects and their ecology relative to other animals, even though insects are often towards the bottom of the food web and have incredibly significant impacts on the environment around them. I became interested in studying insects, and thus the environment, so I merged the two and declared a certificate in environmental studies along with my entomology major. I hope to pursue a PhD in parasitology or to do research on insect ecology.

Sagen Quale

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

Expected graduation: May 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I have always had a passion for being outdoors, but not until school did I realize how deeply intertwined human issues and environmental issues are related. After learning about those lessons, and connecting them to my own personal family ties to the land through being Native American, I have grown a passion to advocate for and with the people who are effected the most by environmental issues.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is a great opportunity to converse and network with like-minded individuals who share your same passions on finding ways to combat the typical stance on environmental issues.

Something few people know about you: I aspire to own an area of land one day that can be a space which facilities a person’s growth and connection to the food we eat and the land we live on.

Anything else? I have been to Ghana, Ireland, Mexico, and Canada and hope to keep expanding my list as my life continues.

Jane Schaub

What are your majors? Environmental studies and business management

Expected graduation? May 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Growing up I had the opportunity to visit several state and national parks across the U.S. I found myself in awe of the beauty and strength of nature. As we hiked and explored, my parents taught me the importance of respecting these natural places so that future generations could enjoy them as we did. This idea of sustainability and respecting nature stuck with me as I grew up and led me to pursue a career in sustainability related work.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP is a great opportunity to learn about the important intersections of local community and environmental work. CESP also creates a welcoming community of students and faculty that are interested in incorporating environmental work into their future career and it is a great chance to get to know people from a wide variety of interests!

Something few people know about you: I have always been very crafty and will crochet or bead when I need a break from school and other work.

Anything else? I have always enjoyed community-related projects. This year I am one of the co-directors of Slow Food UW’s Family Dinner Night where I work with a team of fellow students to put on a weekly community meal utilizing locally sourced ingredients!

Simone Schneider

What are your majors? Environmental studies and people-environment geography, with certificates in public policy and global health

Expected graduation: May 2024

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My interest in the environment stems from my own love for the outdoors and my positive experiences in it growing up. My passion for the field comes from this in combination with a want to achieve social justice. Through courses and seeing issues in my own community, I realized not everyone experiences the environment in the same way, and it often is used as a tool by those more affluent to negatively impact marginalized communities. I’m inspired by past and present environmental justice movements, that are so often community led, to pursue this field and help protect the environmental rights of everyone.

Rachel Schumacher

What is your major? Geography

Expected graduation: December 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I have always loved the environment and being outside in nature. Over the years I have learned more and more about climate change as well as the impacts our waste has on it. I try my best to live a sustainable lifestyle, and I think that it is our duty as part of this planet to do that. I chose to pursue a future working with the environment and communities because I want to help the world accomplish important sustainability goals.

Amanda Shalit

What are your majors? Botany and conservation biology

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!

Something else about you? I am conducting research with two labs at UW-Madison, the Damschen Plant Ecology Lab and the McCulloh Botany Lab!

Elizabeth Smith

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

Expected graduation: May 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? What most inspired me to pursue an education related to the environment was, as cheesy as it sounds, all of the Planet Earth episodes they showed us in elementary and middle school. Those videos showcase such beautiful ecosystems and animals, and 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. I also 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.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? I would definitely recommend any student in the Nelson Institute to get involved with CESP! It is a great opportunity for self growth and a chance to connect with others that care about many of the same topics as you do.

Something few people know about you: I would like to visit all of the national parks! Three down, many to go. I’m hoping to hit more with my recently built camper van!

Bri Stevens

What is your major? Landscape architecture

Expected graduation: 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? In high school I volunteered as an assistant coach for Special Olympics swimming and really enjoyed the experience working with and being welcomed into the community. This was something I felt was missing from my first few years of my undergrad at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. CESP is a great organization that has created their own community within the program while also practicing community engagement off campus. Environmental science has been a growing passion of mine as I learn more about the importance of sustainability and environmental justice when designing spaces, especially with the growing threats climate change presents.

Christina Treacy

What are your majors? Environmental science and political science with certificates in public policy and sustainability

Expected graduation: May 2024

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I first got to see the incredible power of the environmentalist community in high school through an advocacy trip to Washington D.C. with Kids for the Boundary Waters (a conservation organization dedicated to ensuring lasting protections for Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness). By spending various summers camping in Minnesota’s Northwoods growing up, I had the privilege of witnessing nature’s beauty in its purest form. The D.C. trip gave me the chance to fight for this unique environment alongside a passionate community of youth who understood the beauty and the power that such natural spaces hold. My K4BW peers inspired me to continue to work towards protecting the environment in my daily life. (And eventually through my studies as well!)

 

Sofia Valdes Gillespie

What are your majors? Life science communication, with a certificate in environmental studies

Expected graduation: December 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? I grew up on a small farm in Deerfield, Wisconsin. There wasn’t much else to do beside spend time outdoors as a kid. The historic Ice Age Trail was right outside my doorstep, and Koshkonong Creek runs through our land. These places provided me with endless entertainment. Me and my younger siblings would dig for worms on rainy days and fish for bluegill and catfish at the creek bridge. We would canoe through the creek when it flooded, watching as giant carp swam past. Some days we biked the trail and stopped at the bridge to talk for a while. We would watch the horses graze and pretend to be cowboys. For me, the outdoors has always been a part of my life, the best place to be rid of all of life’s worries. I hope to use my knowledge to spread awareness around the world about just how important it is to protect our Mother.

Tien Vo

What are your majors? Geography and environmental studies

Expected graduation: December 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: I hate desserts that are too sweet!

Something else about you? I love reading the CESP assigned books every semester. It’s been a great way to engage with stories I otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to!

Shealynn Wegner

What are your majors? Community and environmental sociology and landscape and urban studies, with certificates in environmental studies, food systems, and graphic design

Expected graduation: May 2024

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Growing up in a small rural community, I developed a deep appreciation for nature, as well as for the community members who surrounded me. After learning about environmental degradation and climate change in high school, I discovered my passion for wanting to create a more sustainable world. My early environmental studies classes at UW–Madison taught me about environmental injustice and the intersection of our widest social disparities and environmental harm. Now, I’m dedicated to the pursuit of finding sustainable and equitable ways for all our communities to develop and thrive.

Kate Wimmer

What are your majors? Biology and global health with a certificate in sustainability

Expected graduation: May 2023

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? My interest in the environment started because I grew up in Colorado, surrounded by some of the most beautiful things the environment has to offer. My interest in environmental sustainability started when I became vegetarian about nine years ago and I started to think about how the choices I make can have an impact on the environment. I definitely found my passion in the link between environmental health and human health when I began to take environmental and global health based classes in college!

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? CESP has been a great addition to my academic and personal life. I have been able to learn so much regarding community engagement and the environment as well as make amazing connections with all kinds of people. It is a great way to surround yourself with people who have a similar interest in the environment and a passion for helping others. Overall, CESP provides students with opportunities that they couldn’t get anywhere else on campus.

Something few people know about you: One thing that not many people know about me is that I recently decided to pause my applications for graduate school and take a gap year. My dream is to go to graduate school in Colorado, which is super expensive, so a gap year will allow me to save money and follow my dream! I also plan to adopt a puppy during my gap year!

Sophia Ziehr

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

Expected graduation: December 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.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? Being part of CESP broadened my view of environmental issues because this group of students are pursuing a wide variety of majors and have a wide range of experiences and viewpoints about these issues. Because of this, I have met people I may not have otherwise met and it opened my mind to how environmental issues impact areas in ways I would not have thought.