Meet NWF’s New Class of EcoLeader Graduate Student Research Fellows
National Wildlife Federation is pleased to introduce the recipients of this year’s EcoLeader graduate student research fellowships.
National Wildlife Federation EcoLeader Graduate Student Fellows help to educate and engage the EcoLeaders community through dedicated research projects. Monetary fellowship grants are awarded to graduate students working with National Wildlife Federation staff on research that helps to expand the content and development of the EcoLeaders program to help college students and recent graduates to use project-based learning to develop their environmental leadership and sustainable career goals.
As the managing partner for the national RecycleMania Program, National Wildlife Federation seeks to deepen engagement with faculty, staff and students and provide education around what it means to be part of a sustainable campus, why waste reduction and recycling are so important, meet like-minded students, and have fun! To this end, the RecycleMania Fellow is developing a RecycleMania Fall Activity Guide to be used on campus with a special emphasis on freshman engagement and students in residence halls, “dorm dwellers”.
HHannah Cohen is a Master’s candidate at Tulane University studying Cultural Anthropology with a focus on environmental policy development. Exploring the relationship between working class Louisianans and the effects of climate change in the Gulf Coast, she hopes to use activism, collaborative policy development and education to move towards a sustainable future. Working as an intern with the Tulane Office of Sustainability and as a student environmental leader, her efforts focus on campus waste reduction and education around reuse and recycling. When she is not working on environmental issues, Hannah is an Assistant Producer and DJ for New Orleans and national radio programs.
“The National Wildlife Federation RecycleMania fellowship has given me the opportunity to apply my passions for education, activism and sustainability to create something useful and active for students to engage with, so we can all participate in creating a more conscious, clean and green campus. This work is an important step in solidifying sustainable practices and connecting waste reduction to the larger environmental challenges we face.”
Higher Education Sustainability Fellowship
In an effort to ensure that National Wildlife Federation’s higher education sustainability programming is best serving the needs of all higher education institutions and communities, the National Wildlife Federation Higher Education Sustainability Graduate Student Research Fellow is conducting research and analysis on the current campus sustainability landscape – identifying the trends, gaps, and redundancy with special attention paid to behavior change as related to institutional sustainability efforts as well as trends of higher education engagement with local K-12 institutions around sustainability and environmental education.
Lauren Collins is a PhD Candidate in Higher Education at the University of Denver. She is a critical scholar, ethnographer, and educator focused on the social context of global education. Her interest in global education has its roots in exploring alternatives to neoliberal capitalism and the associated exploitation of natural resources. At the University of Denver, she has worked on sustainability-related initiatives ranging from carbon offsetting study abroad, to addressing food insecurity and food waste via management of the campus food pantry, and the development of a campus speaker series on environmental issues that are at stake in local and national elections. She is thrilled to be a National Wildlife Federation Fellow and her project is a survey of the sustainability landscape in higher education in the U.S., especially as it relates to curriculum, careers, and K-12 partnerships.
I was interested in this fellowship to deepen my understanding of how sustainability initiatives are being incorporated into higher education curriculum, as well as to have the opportunity to research how institutions prepare students for careers in sustainability. In my experience, career services offices often limit thinking around jobs in the field of sustainability to only environmental or energy organizations when in reality jobs in the field of sustainability are increasingly diverse. Understanding the gap between career service office perceptions and the existing diverse career paths can help push career services office to take a fresh look at this career field and encourage more students to consider sustainability as an option in their majors and post-graduation job decisions.
National Wildlife Federation is the U.S. host of the international Eco-Schools program that is active in 67 countries, including the U.S., and 51,000 K-12 schools. The higher education extension of Eco-Schools is called EcoCampus, and National Wildlife Federation will launch this program in the U.S. in early 2020. Currently, the EcoCampus program is active in 21 countries. In an effort to prepare for the launch, the National Wildlife Federation EcoCampus Graduate Student Research Fellow is conducting research and analysis of the current EcoCampus resources from the 21 existing programs, as well as drafting an outline for and beginning development of the official EcoCampus USA handbook.
Nicole McCallum is currently finishing her Master’s degree in Environmental Policy with a focus in Urban Planning at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She currently works as an intern with Langan Environmental Engineering and Services. In this position, she works on a number of initiatives including calculating the companies’ carbon emissions, updating the percentage of Langan employees who work in LEED certified buildings, drafting sustainability updates, and other projects related to corporate sustainability. For her undergraduate degree, Nicole also attended Lehigh University and received a B.S in Environmental Engineering and Sustainable Development. During her undergraduate years, she worked for Lehigh’s Office of Sustainability where she worked as the Metrics & Reporting student and in this role, she collected, interpreted, and reported data from campus food establishments to the Real Food Challenge in order to help Lehigh reach its 20 percent by 2020 “real” food goal. Nicole was then hired as an Eco-Rep Coordinator where she helped to implement and manage the Sustainable Living Program. Nicole plans to graduate in December 2019 and her career path is aimed at gaining more experience in environmental policy and planning.
“I believe all schools, including universities, should incorporate more environmental sustainability into their mission and curriculum. This endeavor will not only decrease the organization’s environmental footprint but will also inspire students in the classroom and to make change, improve the campus and local community, develop sustainable mindsets, and educate students on what is happening globally. Sustainability has played a significant role in my life and I am excited to help NWF expand the Eco-Campus program and help inspire even more people.”
National Wildlife Federation’s Annual EcoCareers Conference prepares students and young professionals for wildlife and sustainability careers by providing information on the latest green employment trends from leading analysts and employers, clarifying career-enhancing credentials and academic offerings, and formulating a better understanding of the competencies employers seek in the green sector. In an effort to better serve the National Wildlife Federation EcoLeaders community, the National Wildlife Federation EcoCareers Research Fellow is supporting the growth and development of the annual EcoCareers Conference based on the research of best practices in the field, stakeholder engagement, and the development of a proposal for strategies moving forward.
Molly Jo is a passionate environmental educator, herbalist, gardener, writer and yogi. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Education at Antioch University, fusing her life’s work through her self-designed studies in Educating for Mindfulness and Sustainability. Since an early age, she has been inspired and empowered by the work of National Wildlife Federation to be a more informed, active and engaged steward of our beloved planet; she is honored to serve as a Fellow and support the growth of the National Wildlife Federation EcoLeaders community.
“I am inspired by the way in which the National Wildlife Federation EcoLeaders community integrates and builds off the power of the internet in order to connect a wider audience, increase access to valuable resources, and limit the use of fossil fuels required in hosting traditional conferences. I’m excited to gain more insight on how to effectively use the internet to increase stewardship and environmental education.”
Congratulations to our new class of Fellows! EcoLeader Fellows join a national network of current and alumni fellows, many of whom have gone on to lead new businesses, agencies, and programs for sustainability all across the U.S. Read their stories here.