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End of Semester Update: Top 50 Inspirations
Throughout 2016, the EcoLeaders Career Center, hosted by the National Wildlife Federation and our partners, has been celebrating the motivating stories and career accomplishments of young professionals making their names (and a difference) in the sustainability movement. We’ve called this group of change-makers “The EcoLeaders List.” We’re honored to present the next group of nine inspiring EcoProfessionals!
Leadership Skills, Personal Missions, Reaching Out
Our seventh group of EcoProfessionals were recently interviewed for the national EcoLeader Career Center, and spoke to a variety of topics. In the interview excerpts below, Erica Tauzer and Stacy Cachules discuss the importance of developing project-based leadership skills; Sean Hackett describes the importance of declaring a personal mission and Kindra Ramos and Ron Schildge discussed their own missions; and Gideon Burdick, Sherill Baldwin, Chris Murakami, and Samantha Weaver emphasize reaching out to mentors and becoming involved in extracurricular activities.
Erica Tauzer: Erica is a Community Planner at Environmental Design & Research, where she works with municipalities to create and implement comprehensive plans incorporating sustainability concepts like multi-modal transportation planning and other smart growth concepts. As a 2009-2010 NWF Fellow, Erica focused on creating a greenhouse gas inventory for Albion College. Read Erica’s full interview here.
“I think [having project design and management experience] is hugely important for students, particularly for those pursuing sustainability goals. Sustainability efforts need innovative people, and innovative people need leadership and project management skills.” – Erica Tauzer
Stacy Cachules: Stacy is an Operations Director at Central Indiana Land Trust, where she helps protect the natural areas remaining in the region. As a 2004 NWF grassroots communication intern, Stacy worked on a variety of legislative issues and initiatives. Read Stacy’s full interview here.
“Project-based experience is so important. I think back upon my internships and how I was able to troubleshoot around issues related to legislation and projects. Troubleshooting and managing projects gives you so much experience that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life and you’ll pull from them as you go along.” – Stacy Cachules
Sean Hackett: Sean is an Environmental Protection Specialist at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, where he works on regulations and policies to reduce air pollution emissions across various sectors. As a 2010 NWF summer legal intern, Sean focused on litigation and research regarding the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act and National Forest Management Act. Read Sean’s full interview here.
“Don’t lose sight of what motivated you to begin this path… establish a mission statement, core values and strategic plan for yourself. Identify what you’re willing to compromise on and where you draw the line. Align yourself with groups or causes you care about, but don’t put yourself in a bubble and discount conflicting worldviews or alienate potential allies.” – Sean Hackett
Kindra Ramos: Kindra is the Director of Communications and Outreach at Washington Trails Association, where she built an outreach program for Washingtonians in order to empower people to get outside and protect natural areas for future generations. As an NWF policy and lobbying intern, Kindra supported a variety of legislative initiatives. Read Kindra’s full interview here.
“For me it’s about living the best I can and empowering others to live their best life as well. There’s so many choices that we make every day that influence the sustainability of our world, and you can’t always make the perfect choice, but you can make the best one you can, and I think that every one of those decisions adds up.” – Kindra Ramos
Ron Schildge: Ron is a Computer Science Teacher at the American School of Paris. As a 2001-2002 NWF Fellow, Ron focused on evaluating the feasibility of using biofuels on the Middlebury College campus. Read Ron’s full interview here.
“You can’t always predict your career path, but you can always live by your principles. Students graduating college today may have many different jobs and multiple careers, each of which are going to have unique expectations and responsibilities… you can set your priorities so that you are working for your community and for the planet.” – Ron Schildge
Gideon Burdick: Gideon is a Marketing and Development Associate at Red Tomato, a 19-year-old nonprofit that helps mid-sized farmers connect to wholesale markets. As a 2009-2010 NWF Fellow, Gideon worked to provide 10 residence halls with web-based feedback utility consumption to promote resource conservation. Read Gideon’s full interview here.
“Really, I just think it’s important to talk to people. I haven’t met someone in the food movement who wasn’t willing to talk, share their experiences, and hear about yours… Find those that you respect and learn from them. Making the offer to engage can go a long way.” – Gideon Burdick
Sherill Baldwin: Sherill is a Source Reduction and Recycling Analyst at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, where she focuses on sustainable materials management. As a 2002-2003 NWF Fellow, Sherill researched how edible food by-products from agricultural research were being managed, and sought opportunities to divert more of these products for human consumption. Read Sherill’s full interview here.
“On the mentoring end, it’s really [about] trying to take a moment and listen to how the person is looking at the challenge or opportunity, trying to provide input, but not necessarily couching them in or putting bookends.” – Sherill Baldwin
Chris Murakami: Chris is a Research Consultant at the University of Missouri, where he works in the Assessment Resource Center. As a 2010-2011 NWF Fellow, Chris focused on creating a Community Garden for Mizzou to provide a “living lab” for students to learn about methods for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from local food production and other sustainable habits and understanding. Read Chris’ full interview here.
“There’s all these different possibilities… that are sometimes missed because… people who are in positions of leadership are more interested in controlling than enabling. There’s obviously balance in that… but I think fundamentally learners need more autonomy and flexibility to explore possible ways of being.” – Chris Murakami
Samantha Weaver: Samantha is a Renewable Energy Strategy Analyst at Pacific Gas and Electric Company, where she is helping the state of California achieve its goal of 50% of electricity from renewables by 2030. As a 2007-2008 NWF Fellow, Samantha focused on educating both the campus administration and student body of Kalamazoo College on the importance of reducing carbon emissions. Read Samantha’s full interview here.
“Extracurriculars help you figure out what you like to do, instill confidence, and expose you to the latest sustainability-related issues. They provide you with a sense of purpose and skills that will set you up for success in any sustainability-focused career.” – Samantha Weaver
See all of the 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.