What are you passionate about?
I believe land conservation is a tool for helping humans think and act differently in their relationship to land and it is extremely beneficial to other species. It’s a non-partisan, optional, and typically fun way to get people to engage with the natural world and take needed steps to become stewards. It also provides access to folks who might not otherwise get out into nature. We have a long way to go, but so far there are 61 million acres of conserved land nationally.
What skills did you learn at Antioch that helped you achieve your professional goals?
Antioch’s mix of hard science, law, financial admin, and GIS is the perfect blend for careers in nonprofits and NGOs, which are often like startups. The pervasive whole systems thinking is critical, coupled with practical field skills and internships. The program overall was very based in systems thinking and transdisciplinary. Everybody is doing a little of everything. This mix is the secret sauce.
How did AU empower you to make a difference?
The motto still stands, the world needs us now, and the philosophy that every person can and should make a difference was empowering. From the time that I interviewed faculty before applying, through my graduation I was impressed with the engagement faculty demonstrated in their communities, and it motivated me to be active both in local government, and through my ‘day job’, and to live by example in all aspects of my life. Finding people who shared this compulsion was very validating and uplifting.
What would you like to share with potential students?
Jump in, find your path, and devour the resources available to you. If you can afford it, don’t work during your degree program. I worked 30 hours/week out of necessity but it detracted from my ability to retain knowledge and maximize 100% engagement.
What would you like to share, based on your work, that you feel excited/proud/energized about?
First, in many places, acres conserved have doubled since I graduated in 2005 – that’s a lot of land that will be permanently available for habitat, recreation, carbon storage, growing food and fiber, etc. Second, a lot of environmental organizations are finally starting to engage meaningfully around DEIJA work and rematriation of land to the peoples from whom it was stolen. It has bothered me for decades that we as a broad movement haven’t been more inclusive and honest about our history – hopefully, we can make the future more equitable. NPR’s ‘Short Wave’ podcast had an episode about quantifying climate change recently which talked about the cost of upgrading infrastructure like bridges and culverts – which was something Michael Simpson had me working on in 2004! I felt vindicated, that AUNE is ahead of the curve.