IonE sustainability leaders get ready to begin their first year
“Here at the University of Minnesota, there are so many programs that support graduate students and their pursuits in leadership. And graduate students are great,” said Eric Sannerud in his pitch to sustainability staff members, “but undergraduates are pretty great too.”
Throughout the past few years at the U, Sannerud has noticed a lack of leadership and engagement programs for undergraduate students. Much of the available support and resources are provided to graduate students, missing the group of younger students with just as much intelligence and energy.
Sannerud looks to solve this problem through a new initiative called the Institute on the Environment Sustainability Leaders program. This program will allow undergraduate students to become pioneers of sustainability initiatives and broaden their connections in the field.
“The IonE scholars program comes at a time when the world needs pragmatic, solutions-based leaders,” stated Sannerud. U of M students are lucky to be surrounded by many sustainability experts and leaders but the reality is that there is a lack of leadership in the sustainability community. However, gathered this semester are seven bright young scholars ready to make a difference.
The mission of this program is to develop student leaders that will take the lead on the future of sustainability. Members will attend an orientation retreat, be present at various IonE events, and will have the opportunity to participate in sustainability functions hosted by the U of M. Not only will these students represent the program, they will represent the Institute on the Environment and the entire University of Minnesota on a broader scale.
The new IonE Leaders were identified last Monday after a vigorous round of applications and interviews. The applicants were reduced from 87 to 7 over the course of a few weeks. A few of them will be getting together for the first time next week to celebrate Food Day, a joint initiative between the Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute and the U Students Like Good Food student group. On Tuesday, the leaders will participate in the Food Expo at Coffman’s Great Hall, which features a chef demonstration and lots of free snacks. On Wednesday, the students will support IonE Director Jon Foley during his Keynote Food Day speech in the Coffman theater. The speech will address the topic of feeding the world while keeping the food system sustainable.
On October 26th and 27th, all seven of the IonE Leaders will venture to Duluth to participate in the campus-wide SELF Sustain summit. There they will engage with other student leaders and present on their personal sustainability involvements and goals. The weekend will give them the opportunity to make connections with other University of Minnesota sustainability experts. Hopefully, they will bring back a tool belt of sustainable ideas ready to implement on the Twin Cities campus.
Chelsey Shoup, a new Leader, was surprised to be chosen. “I have a different background,” she said. She’s majoring in biomedical engineering, but still views sustainability as an important part of the emerging world. “I want to be able to build a business,” she mentioned, where she would teach sustainability to others. She was happy to hear that the program accepts students of all backgrounds. She believes this will help everyone in the group to learn more about sustainability.
The new IonE Leaders are excited to get started, and we are even more excited to see what they can come up with. “It’s nice that there’s this program specifically for something I think is important and should be more important on campus,” said Shoup. When these students have graduated from the program we will have a foundation of IonE alumni continuing their passion for sustainability in the real-world. We wish the leaders the best on their first year of work!