Back to School Career Advice

NWF EcoLeaders Top 50 Inspirations

This month and next, college students across the country are heading back to classes, work studies, and academic internships. Even though it may seem premature to be thinking about graduation, you can take steps to successfully transition from school to career regardless of where you are in your academic path.

Along with visiting your career services office and checking out the resources in the EcoLeaders Career Center, you can also get advice here from today’s green leaders – such as the eight inspirations featured below!

EcoLeaders Top 50 August 2016Throughout 2016, the EcoLeaders Career Center, hosted by the National Wildlife Federation and partners, is celebrating the motivating stories and career accomplishments of young professionals making their names (and a difference) in the sustainability movement. We’re calling this group of change-makers and rising stars “The EcoLeaders List” and are announcing a new group of inspirational leaders each month this year.

We’re honored to present the next group of eight inspiring young EcoProfessionals as part of our “NWF EcoLeaders Top 50 Inspirations of 2016” series.

Leadership, Advocacy, and Stewardship

Our sixth group of EcoProfessionals was recently interviewed for the national EcoLeader Career Center. These featured eight below spoke to a variety of topics:

Photo courtesy of Deborah Scott

Photo courtesy of Deborah Scott

Deborah Scott: Deborah is a Research Fellow at the Science, Technology and Innovation Studies Department at the University of Edinburgh. As an NWF Fellow, she developed a guide for native plants and trees to encourage sustainable landscaping at Goshen College. Read Deborah’s full interview here.

“What’s most important is to experience how messy most projects become. Leading on a project means you get to experience that mess up close and be responsible for it. When you encounter future messy projects at work, it won’t be so unnerving.” – Deborah Scott

Photo Courtesy of Rachel Sholly

Photo courtesy of Rachel Sholly

Rachel Sholly: Rachel currently serves as the Chief of Program Development for the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources. As an NWF Fellow, Rachel focused on researching the habits of commuters to the University of Rhode Island and used this information to develop a Clean Transportation Policy for the campus. Read Rachel’s full interview here.

“I think the lesson was that you’re not going to think of everything; you’re not going to be as creative if you don’t look at what other people are doing and see how that can relate to and inform the work that you’re doing.” – Rachel Sholly

Photo courtesy of Julian Dautremont-Smith

Photo courtesy of Julian Dautremont-Smith

Julian Dautremont-Smith: As an NWF Fellow, Julian focused on inventorying greenhouse gases at Lewis and Clark College and developed a guide to be used at other institutions wanting to do the same. Julian is now the Director of Programs at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Read Julian’s full interview here.

“I recommend that people find a specific dimension of sustainability about which they are passionate, and, while keeping linkages with other dimensions and broader sustainability goals in mind, really build their expertise in that particular area so that they can be an effective advocate on that dimension.” – Julian Dautremont-Smith

Photo courtesy of Daniella Lewis

Photo courtesy of Daniella Lewis

Daniella Lewis: Daniella is a Farm Stand Manager at Plant It Forward, which helps refugees earn income as small, urban farmers in the Houston, TX area. As an NWF Fellow, Daniella developed an urban community garden on the University of Texas campus in Austin, TX. Read Daniella’s full interview here.

“I would say to craft your own experience at your university; I think that that’s a very valuable thing, and that’s what you’re there to do. You’re not there just to get routed through the system; you’re there to grow and to make the world a better place, so why not start?” – Daniella Lewis

Photo courtesy of Andrew Lee

Photo courtesy of Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee: Andrew is a Founder of Esper, Inc. and an Advisor to the Creative Action Network. As an NWF Fellow, Andrew focused on the installation of moisture sensors to decrease irrigation and identify malfunctioning sprinklers across the 57-acre Claremont McKenna College. Read Andrew’s full interview here.

“Every single conservation organization should be thinking about how to come up with a strong technology strategy and learn to embrace technology as a way to promote conservation. I think that technology is an important part of introducing people to the outdoors.” – Andrew Lee

Photo courtesy of Summer Rayne Oakes

Photo courtesy of Summer Rayne Oakes

Summer Rayne Oakes: Summer Rayne is an entrepreneur, and her most recent project is the healthy living site As an NWF Fellow, Summer Rayne sought to combine environmental understanding and humanitarian work with fashion, art, and popular media through the creation of the Organic Portraits project. Read Summer Rayne’s full interview here.

“I realize that some of these influences in my life have a lot in common with one another; there’s this real unwavering commitment to their cause and also thinking beyond themselves very selflessly. I deeply admire and appreciate that, and I feel grateful and lucky to have worked with them in some capacity.” – Summer Rayne Oakes

Photo courtesy of Michael Slotten

Photo courtesy of Michael Slotten

Michael Slotten: Michael is an Extension Educator at North Dakota State University. As an NWF Fellow and student at St. Edward’s University, Michael focused on educating and engaging young people and the Austin, TX community to conserve the endangered Golden Cheek Warbler. Read Michael’s full interview here.

“I would say my personal mission is tied to stewardship. It is something that I try to strive for as one of my values, and that goes in a lot of different directions – not just sustainability – but the way that I take care of the things that I’ve been blessed with. I think about future generations.” – Michael Slotten

Photo courtesy of Kawika Winter

Photo courtesy of Kawika Winter

Kawika Winter: As an NWF Fellow, Kawika focused on developing a natural resource management system for the Limahuli Garden and Preserve, which is a part of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. Today, Kawika is the Director of Limahuli. Read Kawika’s full interview here.

“I live with traditions and examples of how human interaction with the natural world can increase biodiversity and resource abundance. To me, “sustainability” is where the pendulum rests if it were not in motion. What I have dedicated my career to is getting people to embrace the idea that we can indeed swing the pendulum in the other direction towards perpetual abundance, and providing a model of how we can get there.” – Kawika Winter

Read full interviews in the NWF EcoLeaders Career Center.

EcoLeaders is the nation’s first project-based leadership development program for sustainability, leading to certification for college students and young professionals. EcoLeaders provides a career edge that helps the planet while helping thousands of emerging leaders do well by doing good for their communities.

If you think that you, or someone you know, would be a great addition to this list as it grows throughout the year and beyond, please send us a brief email with contact information and a quick bio at

Never Miss A Story!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

National Wildlife Federation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization
PO Box 1583, Merrifield VA 22116-1583 1-800-822-9919
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use

Protect Wildlife