Current and Past Participants

Past Participants

Jillian Hansen

Jillian is sophomore studying political science and global studies with a focus in environment and sustainable development. On campus, she works as a peer advisor for CLA Career Services, assisting U of MN students with post-graduation planning and facilitating other projects throughout the College of Liberal Arts. She is also the financial officer for the Undergraduate Political Science Association, for which she has helped pilot a new mentorship program for transfer/freshmen students. For the past 3 summers she has worked as a counselor for YMCA Camp Wapsie, developing the teamwork and leadership skills of campers through outdoor education practices such as hiking, rock climbing, and canoeing.

Nick Minor

Nick is at the U studying Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior to pursue his passion for big questions about biodiversity. Growing up in the Chicago area, Nick was always fascinated by flora and fauna, especially birds, and through them he began to explore phenomena like migration, evolution, and population dynamics. This interest in biodiversity has connected him to wild landscapes, to unanswered scientific questions, to sustainability, and to the power of storytelling in profound ways–all integral parts of the life Nick is working now to create for himself.

Dania Marin-Gavilan

Dania Marin-Gavilan is studying Environmental Science (EEC) with a minor in food systems. She is most interested in the connection between environmental issues and social issues, and how these intersections specifically affect our food systems and livelihoods. She is excited to be in the art science practice of the program because I truly believe that the separation of art and science is completely fictional; art is science, science is art.

Lauren Schultz

Lauren is a senior studying environmental science, policy, and management as well as double minoring in leadership and communication studies. She holds a student position at the Institute on the Environment with Sustainability Education as well as with an art-science collaborative called Backyard Phenology that works closely with the Native American Medicine Garden to host talking/healing circles that contribute to the understanding of phenology and observation of the natural world. She is interested in the connections between leadership, communication, and sustainability as well as furthering her understanding of the social issues facing our world. In her free time, Lauren enjoys hiking, backpacking, traveling, concert-going, and working zero-waste events with Eureka Recycling.

Alexander Schmies

Alex is a senior majoring in Physics with an emphasis on biology and minoring in climatology. He works for the University of Minnesota’s Center for Outdoor Adventure as a trip leader. He takes groups of students on weekend camping trips and shows them how to safely enjoy the outdoors while adhering to Leave No Trace principles. In his free time he likes to travel as much as he is able to. Last summer, he visited Morocco. In addition to an eternal love of Moroccan ice cream, this experience lead to a research project he is conducting that is examining how the northern boundary of the Sahara Desert has changed over time.

Lena Brakel

Lena Brakel is a senior in the Bachelor of Individualized Studies Program in the College of Liberal Arts. She’s studying a combination of Linguistics, German, and Political Science and Minoring in Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management. She’s from Grand Forks, North Dakota and studied abroad in Germany as an exchange student before coming to Minnesota in 2015. She’s passionate about Environmental Justice and loves working with people, so she is super grateful and excited to be part of the Undergraduate Leaders Program with the Institute on the Environment!

Elizabeth McGraw

Libby has traveled to many different countries and observed firsthand how different cultures perceive, prioritize, and practice sustainability. She spent the 2017 spring semester in Tanzania studying the human-wildlife interface and researching the effects of climate change on agricultural practices. She has close ties with Francis Bettelyoun from the UMN Native American Medicine Garden, and has learned a tremendous deal about indigenous traditions, food sovereignty, and decolonization. She is involved with many clubs on campus including the Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Club, the Marine Biology Club, and the Ski and Snowboard Club. These clubs provide her with a broad knowledge-base as well as a great network of classmates.

David Kodama

David is a sophomore in CSE studying Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering with minors in Environmental Policy and Sustainable Agriculture. Growing up in Chicago and its suburbs, he witnessed firsthand the great lengths people go through to get food on the table due to expensive products and expensive living. His focus is on making agriculture more sustainable by using less resources and using byproducts for other purposes like clean energy and building materials, so everyone can get cheap food and afford living comfortably wherever they reside. In high school, he built homemade hydroponic towers to test their ability to grow crops and vegetables in urban environments and presented on the towers in a conference. He is involved in many clubs like ASABE, SHPE, Energy Club, UMN Honors Ambassadors, and Sigma Pi Fraternity.

Mckenna Ryan

McKenna is a sophomore studying design, sustainability and Spanish through the inter-college program. While at the University, she has been involved in the student design consultancy DesignU in the research and strategy division and is on the planning team for 10,000 Makes, a 24 hour makeathon open to students across campus. In the fall, she enjoys playing trombone in the University’s marching band. She’s a huge fan of urban gardens, backpacking and being in new places. Traveling and learning about different cultures makes her heart absolutely sing! When she’s in school, she enjoys escaping the cities to sit by the Mississippi River and listen to the water rush by.

Melissa Markay

Melissa Markay will be a junior in the Carlson School of Management. She is pursuing a double major in Public and Nonprofit Management and Finance with a minor in Sustainability Studies. On campus, she is involved with a variety of organizations from IonE to Habitat for Humanity to the Weisman Art Museum. In her free time she loves anything outdoors, from kayaking to hammocking, photography, and shopping for vinyl.  Although she enjoyed spending my summer in London, she loved her time at the U of M and cannot wait to see what fall semester holds!

Jared Finnerty

Currently a Sophomore studying Sustainable Systems Management with a focus in Energy Systems. I was born and raised in Madison, New Jersey and found my passion for the environment and the outdoors during my time in the Boy Scouts of America where I became an Eagle Scout. Love watching sports and besides rooting for the Gophers, I’m a big Mets and Devils fan. Other hobbies include cycling, camping, listening to music, and eating food.

2015-2017 Participants

Rachel Kosse

Rachel Kosse is currently completing her master’s degree in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy at the Humphrey School. She graduated last spring from the College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources with a major in Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management. Originally from Missouri, Rachel has always had a love for everything outdoors. This has inspired a passion to study the environment and tackle the most challenging issues today. Rachel conducts research with the Sustainable Healthy Cities Network learning about the food system and urban agriculture. She is also excited about sharing her passions through teaching and works as a teaching assistant in the ESPM department. Outside of work, Rachel loves staying active, backpacking, camping, hiking, anything to get outside.

Julia Olson

Julia Olson is an undergraduate in CBS majoring in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, and minoring in Spanish and Wildlife Care and Handling. She is active in Compassionate Action for Animals, Earthtrust, Feline Rescue, Queer Student Advocates, and the West Bank Community Garden, and is currently a volunteer with the Packer Lion Lab.

Renne Baldwin

Renne is a third-year student pursuing undergraduate degrees in Anthropology and Social and Ecological Perspectives on Sustainability. Renne wants to make a difference in the ways humans perceive the environment and wants to encourage people to spend more time learning about the natural world. She has interned with the National Park Service, worked as an Outdoor Leader with Wilderness Inquiry, and served as an educator for a camp in New Mexico and a museum in New Hampshire. She is spending Fall 2017 in Bhutan studying sustainable development and will be studying public lands and indigenous knowledge in Utah during Spring 2018. In her spare time, Renne enjoys running, rock climbing, birding, and backpacking.

Sydney Larson

Sydney is pursuing her undergraduate degree in environmental science with a minor in Spanish. She is passionate about local food systems and very interested in the intersections between art and ecology. She is currently an Admissions Ambassador through the Office of Admissions and a research assistant in the Center for Dendrochronology. To combine her love for music and community outreach, she volunteers regularly at The Cedar Cultural Center, helping serve their mission to promote intercultural appreciation and understanding through global music and dance. In the future, Sydney hopes to obtain her M.B.A. and pursue a career in corporate social responsibility, working to create value by participating in collaborative efforts that will strengthen economies and communities while protecting the environment.

Bradley Ni

I scribble, speak words, listen to spoken word, listen to podcasts, travel, write letters,  read fiction, attempt to read non-fiction, cook, avoid baking, sing when no one is listening, sing when everyone is listening, dance, attempt to dance, ride anything with a board, debate, daydream, and listen…

Erica Chung

Erica majored in Biology at the University of Minnesota and participated in the IonE Undergrad Leaders Program during her senior year at the University of Minnesota. The program provided her with a wonderful group of individuals who were also passionate about the well-being of the environment.  Since then, she has continued on for a Masters of Public Health program at Columbia University.

James Butler

James Butler is currently a senior studying environmental engineering and minoring in chemistry. He participated in the Institute on the Environment Undergrads Leader Program as a freshman. Originally from St. Joseph, MO, his years as a Boy Scout fostered his unrelenting environmentalism and interest in environmental justice. He spent the summer of 2017 interning for the Indian Health Service in Bemidji, MN working to improve the water and wastewater systems of Minnesota’s indigenous peoples. James would like to attend graduate school and conduct research on how air pollution affects society’s most disadvantaged and marginalized communities, especially in urban areas. He hopes this research may advance public policy and create more sustainable and equitable cities.

Mallory Thomas

Mallory graduated from the College of Biological Sciences’ Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior with a minor in sustainability studies. Her areas of interest include using research of ecological interactions to develop sustainable resource usage at an industry level and sustainable lifestyles at a social level. Mallory was a member of the CBS Student Board, serves on the CBS Learning Technologies Committee and contributes to research in the Snell-Rood laboratory. She also enjoys talking about her experience as a student studying sustainability in Denmark. In the future Mallory hopes to pursue a Ph.D. with a focus on ecosystem ecology, communicate the importance of science to the public and learn Spanish. Some of Mallory’s favorite things outside of school include her four younger brothers, Birch Lake, ranting about social justice and brunch.

Justin Halverson

Justin Halverson is a musician, organizer, poet and senior at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. He majors in music, which he ties into his interest in the intersection of social, environmental and economic assets that benefit communities in creative ways. He is currently a leader of the West Bank Community Garden and is working with local activists and organizations to draft state legislation that funds the growth of community rain gardens. His other experience include working with multiple equity and sustainability organizations across the University of Minnesota campus, as well as Face Forward, Spark-Y Youth Action Labs, Project Sweetie Pie and the St. Paul School of Rock. Justin collaborates with local spoken word artists, plays bass in a number of bands and leads his own group. He envisions bringing people together around the intersection of art, nature and change that will transition us into a world that feels softer, smells like the seasons and moves just a little bit slower.

Kyle Samejima

Kyle is a nontraditional student working on her bachelor of individualized studies in environmental communication with concentrations in sustainability, communication studies and mass communication. She plans to work in a nonprofit or government position, creating environmental advocacy campaigns that excite, engage and empower citizens to make the systemic and personal changes necessary in the age of climate change and the Anthropocene. She is interested in the tension between climate change mitigation and adaptation and the role of our economic system in destroying or preserving our planet, and she traveled to Italy in May 2015 for the Sustainable Food Systems of Italy study abroad program.
Kyle’s favorite things are her three daughters, weather, being a good environmental steward, friends, making jewelry, and the awe and excitement of learning about our natural world. Her favorite books right now are Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond; This Changes Everything: Climate Change vs Capitalism by Naomi Klein; and Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone.

Jessica Eckerstorfer

Jessica Eckerstorfer graduated with an English and philosophy double major with a concentration in civic life and ethics. She is currently working with Free Arts Minnesota through the Art Connection Grant to bring local youth artwork to various venues in the Twin Cities. Her research focuses on environmental ethics and the links between the humanities and the environment, as well as consumer language and ecofeminism. In her spare time, Jessica continues to grow her mounting book collection, play the piano, spend time as an amateur photographer and bike around the Twin Cities.

Moriah Maternoski

Moriah graduated with a degree in food systems. She wants to make a difference in the food system by gathering people from all backgrounds and providing them with the ability to know how to cook nutritious and healthy foods as well as grow them. Additionally, she wants to increase the amount of locally sourced food in her city by enhancing local communities and economies. She is currently a member of the Real Food Challenge leadership team — a group working to get more local, fair, sustainable and humane food on campus. One of her favorite pastimes is running and racing, and she also loves to cook while perusing the internet for new recipes.

Tyler Redden

Tyler Redden maintains office operations and publication orders for the Publications Office at the Institute on Community Integration, as well as providing general office and administrative support. Since October 2012 Tyler has worked in offices at the University, including the Carlson School of Management (IDSc/SME), School of Social Work, Center for Transportation Studies, Chemical Engineering and Material Sciences, and the Health Natural Sciences Libraries (with two years of prior experience working in retail banking). Tyler is a biology, society and the environment major with a concentration on the environment. Tyler is also a double minor in gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender studies and sustainability studies, and is pursuing American Sign Language interpreting certification. Through the GLBTA Programs Office Tyler is listed as a staff and student resource due to his work in the GLBT mentoring program.

Kristen Peterson

Kristen majored in Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management at the University of Minnesota, participating in the Undergraduate Leaders Program during her senior year. Her interest in sustainability stems from a lifelong love of swimming, hiking, and exploring natural spaces.

While in school, Kristen interned at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve and worked on a variety of ecological research projects through the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. Later, Kristen became more interested in sustainability while studying in Montpellier, France, a city known for its excellent public transportation system. This led her to spend over a year working at Metro Transit in the Twin Cities, where she led employee Green Teams, worked on environmental review for new light rail projects, and implemented a new waste management system to improve recycling rates. Today, Kristen works with the Sustainable Communities team at the Great Plains Institute in Minneapolis.

Away from the office, Kristen likes to spend her time rock climbing, cooking, thinking, speaking French, asking questions, and swimming in as many different lakes and streams as she can find.