Sustainability Education University of Minnesota Wed, 27 May 2015 14:49:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Summer Credits at WEI’s Organic Farm Wed, 27 May 2015 14:37:59 +0000 GWSS 3920 banner

Experiential learning course teaches methods of organic farming in a feminist environmentalist framework. Learn, farm, and eat together!

Open to All Students

U of M Students Register through GWSS

(All other college students contact Tracy Deutsch (see below))

Course Description

GWSS 3290 is a 3-week special summer session course coordinated and taught by Jacquelyn Zita, Farm Manager and Director of Education at the Women’s Environmental Institute and Emeritus Professor in Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota.  This study will include practical hands-on learning of farm skills for organically certified farming and also experience working on the Amador Hill farm crew. The experience will be framed by readings on the global food system, history of agriculture in the U.S., and biology and science of organic farming, and literature drawn from food studies, agriculture studies and critical race and gender studies.The farm-based educational components of this class will include the specifics of greenhouse care, soil care, field management, pest and weed identification, forest foraging, aquaponic fish and vermiculture care , and intensive microgreen and mushroom production.  In addition students will learn how to cook and prepare meals with fresh farm produce, how to save seed, how to grow soil from compost, how to preserve food for winter, and how to live-with-the-farm during the challenges of seasonal and climate change. All students will have an opportunity to participate in WEI’s booth at the Mill City Farmer’s Market or the North Branch Farmer’s Market and in one of WEI’s urban farm projects.

Students will register for three credits through the Department of Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota. Students from other colleges and universities may also register for the class; contact Tracey Deutsch at for more information on this option.

Student may elect to extend their credits through a directed studies contract with the instructor, particularly if that enables them to access financial aid.  These projects must be related to WEI’s work and mission as an organically certified training farm and would be due before the end of summer, August 28.  Approval of directed studies contracts from the instructor is required.

Professor/farmer Jacquelyn Zita will serve as site supervisor and academic supervisor for enrolled students.

Residency at the WEI Eco-Retreat Center will run from Monday evening to mid-afternoon Friday.  Each day will include morning and early afternoon farming, study and readings (all readings on reserve in the WEI library), class discussions and technical workshops, journal writing and research for a special project, and the experience of cooking and living together. Students will be expected to complete all assigned readings and writing assignments, complete a special group project of their own design relevant to the on-going activities at the Amador Hill Farm, and work with the farm crew 26 hours per week. A typical week in GWSS 3290 will include a meeting in the Twin Cities Monday late afternoon (prior to the WEI’s Organic Farm School class at the Birchwood Café in South Minneapolis 6:00-8:30 p.m.)  Residency at the WEI Eco-Retreat Center will run from late Monday evening to mid-afternoon Friday.  Students are not allowed to stay at WEI over the weekends.  Course fee of $1400 covers meals, living expenses, and instructional materials while in residence.

Course Objectives

  • To develop an understanding of the biological and ecological knowledge for running a four-season agro-ecological organically certified farm
  • To learn the skills, team building and the knowledge needed to meet the challenge of working on a rigorous and high-functioning farm crew.
  • To understand the larger social context of food politics, organic farming, the history of agriculture and the food system.
  • To develop food and farming literacy and a lifelong set of skills for sustainable living, including cooking, storing, preserving, and enjoying fresh, organic sustenance.
  • To make connections between farming, food and environmental justice in a feminist gender studies framework


  • Early morning to early afternoon work on the farm with training sessions and participation on regular farm crew; hands-on farmer training.  30%
  • Participation in class discussions and sharing from journal 10%
  • Short papers on reading guided questions.  30%
  • Work on student group project. 20%
  • One day at the farmer’s markets. 5%
  • Participation in household, menu planning, cooking and clean up duties. 5%

Students will be expected to keep a journal on their experience and learning goals to be shared with the class


Photo Source

]]> 0
Summer Jobs with Urban Research & Outreach-Engagement Center Fri, 08 May 2015 19:36:17 +0000 491318922_f1df2d553d_b

Juniors, Seniors and Grad Students

The Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) is hiring for multiple positions this summer, with several positions presenting an opportunity to continue into the fall semester.  They are particularly looking for juniors, seniors and grad students that may have interest in the following opportunities. Apply here.

Northside Achievement Zone Community Survey

  • Part-Time Data Collector
    • Open to all students and community members
    • 20 hours/week this summer
    • Up to $14/hour

Mapping the Demand for Sex with Trafficking People in Minnesota

  • .5 GRA’s
    • Summer and fall/spring 2015-2016
    • $18+tuition benefits during the fall/spring semesters
  • Project Research Assistant
    • 10-20 hours/week this summer
    • Up to $18/hour

Nice Ride Neighborhood, Wheel Being, and Equity and Bike Sharing Evaluation

  • .5 GRA’s
    • Summer and fall 2015
    • $18+tuition benefits during the fall semester
  • Part-Time Data Collector
    • 10-20 hours/week this summer and fall
    • Up to $18/hour

Northside Achievement Zone NAZ – Family Academy Curriculum and Model Development

  • .5 GRA’s
    • Summer and fall/spring 2015-2016
    • $18+tuition benefits during the fall/spring semesters

Capacity-building for YPAR on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Youth

  • Part-Time Data Collector
    • 10-20 hours/week this summer and fall
    • Up to $18/hour

UROC GRA’s – Writing/Documentation/Research

  • .5 GRA’s and .25 GRA’s
    • Summer and fall/spring 2015-2016
    • $18+tuition benefits during the fall/spring semesters


Photo Credit: Steve Lyon

]]> 0
Internships with Urban Oasis: Summer and Fall 2015 Fri, 08 May 2015 18:32:44 +0000 Urban Oasis cropped

Urban Oasis is an up-and-coming food justice organization in St. Paul. Since its inception in 2013, it has worked to establish community and cross-cultural education through food-based learning events. Moving forward it hopes to become a year-round source of fresh foods and provide affordable cooking classes.

For more info and to apply contact:

Urban Oasis Marketing and Communications Intern

Help shape the narrative at the forefront of the local food movement. We are seeking an experienced individual with exceptional organization and communication skills to serve as a marketing intern on the Marketing and Communications team. This person will conduct research projects to help the team launch marketing, communications, and public relations campaigns. You’ll develop writing clips for your portfolio as you work with our experienced marketing director, who has executed campaigns for clients and advertising agencies in a wide variety of industries. And you’ll get a chance to work with our energetic staff who are passionate about changing the local food system.

Urban Oasis Food Systems Intern

The Administrative team will coordinate an internship to advance research and program support to make our entire team more effective. Our Food Systems interns help coordinate our exciting summer Railgating opportunity during St. Paul Saints games at their CHS Field in Lowertown. Interns may also provides additional support to our Healthy Meal­Making program, a 10­week cooking class for adults.

Children’s Lead intern for Healthy Meals in a SNAP!

Make an impact on children through our healthy food curriculum this summer! During our Healthy Meals in a SNAP! (HSNAP) program for SNAP participants we offer a separate children’s curriculum while parents are learning new healthy meal­making skills. We need experienced volunteers to lead the 10­week children’s class and support the teachers. Our lead intern will coordinate and run the HSNAP children’s program from June 18th ­ Aug 20th, managing the support volunteers and the curriculum for students ages 5 ­ 18. Public Health Field Placement​­ Fall 2015 Join Urban Oasis staff as we nourish consumers in our cooking classes! Our Healthy Meal Making Program (HMMP) is looking for a Public Health student to do follow­up interviews and evaluation with HMMP pilot participants. This professional placement can be coordinated for credit through the School of Public Health. As we support healthy eaters who are building on their kitchen strengths, this field placement will help provide critical data to help shape our ongoing programming.

]]> 0
Tonight Only! Food Chains Screening Thu, 07 May 2015 17:30:04 +0000

As spring semester winds down, we finally have time to watch Netflix, bike around our beautiful city, and get going on all of those cool projects we meant to do last summer. If only there was something to do tonight…

Oh, yeah! The final installment of the 5th Annual Sustainability Film Series is tonight! Don’t worry; we wouldn’t let you forget.

Come on down to the Bell Museum tonight for a 6:30 showing of Food Chains, a film documenting the hunger strike farmworkers launched against the Publix supermarket corporate machine in Florida a few years ago. Get educated on the exploitation that brings you your bananas and the wage theft that makes your coffee so cheap.

Sustainability angles spend plenty of time talking about the soil, chemicals, and preservatives that touch our food. It’s time we start thinking about and caring for the hands that pick it as well.

RSVP here: Food Chains Facebook Event!

]]> 0
New Internship Opportunities Fri, 17 Apr 2015 19:04:54 +0000 3659350433_3bccc07033_b

The USDA FOREST SERVICE HAS ANNOUNCED TWO INTERNSHIPS in natural resource management. The internships are being offered through the Student Conservation Association (SCA) in partnership with the Alaska Region of the Forest Service Regional Partnership Office and the Juneau Forestry Sciences Lab. Both positions are for 12 weeks, beginning June 1, 2015 and are eligible for: $100/week stipend and $25/week commuting allowance. Government housing and/or housing allowance may be available.


U.S. FOREST SERVICE PARTNERSHIP & COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT INTERNSHIP will have the opportunity to work with dozens of organizations across Alaska, helping expand the Forest Service’s capacity to work with partners. This position will be eligible for an AmeriCorps education award of $1,493 upon certification of successful completion. The partnership position may include coordinating training events; conducting surveys of current and potential Forest Service partners in Alaska; collaborating with Forest Service Public Affairs staff on a range of digital media products, including video shorts profiling successful partnerships in the Alaska Region, blogs, and social media campaigns. Specific responsibilities will reflect the incumbent’s specific experience, training, and interests. For more information on this position, contact George Schaaf at 907-957-0904. To apply, send a resume and cover letter to with “SCA Application” in the email subject.


The JUNEAU FORESTRY SCIENCES LAB RESEARCH INTERNSHIP is a rare opportunity to work with social and biophysical scientists on studies that combine natural, social and cultural sciences to explore the human effects of climate change. The research position may include coordinating and assisting with summarizing research reports, conducting internet searches, reading journal articles and research reports and organizing and reporting findings. There may also be an opportunity to assist a graduate student in collecting data by interviewing visitors to various sites around Juneau. For more information on this position, contact Linda Kruger at (907) 586-7814. To apply, send a resume and cover letter to lkruger@fs.fed.uswith “SCA Application” in the email subject.


WRANGELL MOUNTAIN CENTER is hiring for the following internship or work-trade opportunities:
GENERAL INTERNSHIP – Help out with all aspects of operations. Intern will be responsible for cooking for large groups of people; helping to maintain organic garden; assisting with manual labor including cleaning, composting, and water pumping; ensuring a warm and well-organized environment for staff and program participants; providing administrative support including program marketing; orienting participants, guests, and students to the systems and customs of the WMC.
GARDEN INTERNSHIP – The Garden Intern is responsible for managing the food production and harvest from the WMC gardens and greenhouse. He/she will be coordinate planting, growing, harvesting, and preparing food (when applicable). He/she will work under the guidance of local expert gardeners. In exchange the Garden Intern will travel approximately bi-monthly to the mentor’s property to assist them. The season runs from approximately May 10 – September 10. Interns are expected to work approximately 30 hours a week in exchange for room and board. The Wrangell Mountains Center is an equal opportunity employer. For full job descriptions, go to


SPRING CREEK FARM INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES for SUMMER 2015 a project of Alaska Pacific University located in Palmer. The position runs from the beginning of May to the end of September. Flexibility around a university schedule is possible for the right applicant. Interns are required to work 32 hours per week. During this time they will participate in all aspects of small scale sustainable farming, from greenhouse propagation to selling our produce at market and everywhere in between.Compensation: Private 8×10 wall tent, farm veggies, and a $300/ month educational stipend. Accommodations: Interns are housed on the farm, in wall tents, and supplied with a cot or air mattress. Interns will have full access to a shared house with bathrooms, kitchen, computer lab, washing machine/dryer and indoor living space. Everyone is expected to share in the routine clean-up and care of the house. The farm is 3 miles from downtown Palmer. Regular trips to town are made for supplies and socializing.


Requirements: The ideal candidate is passionate about the food movement, can lift 50 pounds, and has a willingness to work hard in the field rain or shine. Some farming or gardening experience is preferred but not required. Preference will be given to Alaskans with a bachelor’s degree.
Application: Please send three references, a resume and cover letter to: Megan Talley For more information, go to


**PART-TIME, TEMPORARY EMPLOYEE for a GIS PROJECT to map a city’s water, sewer, and stormwater systems in ArcGIS at Solstice Alaska Consulting, Inc. (Solstice. The employee would work for no more than 4 hours per day for a period of approximately 2-3 months, depending on the final scope of the project. This position would begin immediately or as determined upon the applicant’s availability to begin. Work would be conducted onsite in Anchorage, and all equipment would be provided. Some training would be provided. This is a paid position. Compensation will be discussed upon application. Requirements: Demonstrated ArcGIS experience and/or coursework. Third year/junior level coursework completed, including ArcGIS 268 or equivalent (preferred). Ability to travel to an Anchorage-based office location. The applicant is expected to provide his/her own transportation to the office location. Availability to work no more than 4 hours per day for 2-3 months. To Apply: Applicants will be evaluated on a rolling basis. Interested applicants should apply by email to Robin Reich at with the following information. An email that details your interest in and availability for this work and a résumé that includes ArcGIS qualifications. Note to Interested Students: Applicants are not required to be current students in order to apply for this position; however, students are encouraged to apply. If the applicant is a student, the employer is open to this position being leveraged as an internship or career-building experience if the student works independently with its associated college or university to seek credit as required by the individual school’s policies or career service center. See for additional information.


**SEASONAL SUMMER CAMP ASSISTANT for the Alaska Zoo Education Department. This seasonal, full-time position involves aiding the Camp Coordinators in the smooth running of Summer Adventure camps. Candidate must possess the ability to work well individually and as a team, and must be comfortable working with and around all age groups, especially children. Excellent communication, organization and time management skills are a must. Candidate must have a clean background and submit to a full background check, in addition to holding a valid Alaska driver’s license. Work hours will vary with some evenings and weekends required based on program schedules. This position will be hired to work through the end of August and the pay is $10/hour. Interested parties should email a cover letter and resume to Stephanie Hartman


MARINE MAMMAL TECHNICIAN – One (1) temporary position is available with the CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT of MILITARY LANDS (CEMML) at the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) in Anchorage. The technician will assist with monitoring and management of marine mammals (primarily the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale) in Knik Arm and Eagle River. Minimum Qualifications: U.S. citizenship. BS/BA degree in marine biology, biology, ecology, natural resources, wildlife, fisheries or related field. Ability to traverse rough terrain and work outdoors in weather extremes. Valid driver’s license. Appointment is contingent on successful completion of a background check. Desirable Qualifications
Flexibility in work hours, including weekends. Experience working with endangered species. Experience monitoring marine mammals, especially land-based visual monitoring. Experience conducting behavioral observations of cetaceans. Experience operating a small boat in coastal Alaskan waters (or similar cold water, extreme tide environment). Experience working with passive acoustic monitoring equipment (dipping hydrophones, C-POD, Decimus, etc). Experience working with active sonar (DIDSON). Ability to work extended hours alone in bear country. Experience performing data entry and management. Experience working on a military installation. Duration: Temporary positions with Colorado State University – CEMML are limited in duration and the availability of funding. Seasonal positions will last approximately 5.5 months, starting early June 2015(dates are somewhat flexible and coordinated with JBER marine mammal lead). Pay Rate: Pay rate is commensurate with experience and qualifications. Range: $17 – $20.71/hr and commensurate with experience and qualifications. Continuation of the position is dependent on the receipt of funding from the sponsor for marine mammal efforts at JBER. To Apply: Email a resume, contact information for three (3) references, college transcripts (unofficial OK), and a brief cover letter describing your qualifications for this position to ATTN: Ms. Cassandra Schoofs,


Research Associate, at For more information concerning the position, contact Christopher Garner at closes on May 1.


PLEASE NOTE: Travel expenses to Alaska will NOT be paid. NO housing will be provided. Duration of position is dependent on continuation of funding for marine mammal projects. Qualified applicants will be contacted to schedule a telephone interview. If selected, applicants will need to undergo and pass a background check online or by mail before they can officially be offered the position.


ALASKA CENTER for the ENVIRONMENT (ACE) is hiring FULL-TIME, SUMMER POSITIONS for a CANVASS TEAM. We will be working on high energy, faced paced conservation campaigns throughout the state alongside volunteers, organizers, and conservation leaders! Must be outgoing and willing to talk to a wide range of Alaskans about controversial issues and have the ability to work evenings. Pay is dependent on experience. Interviews and hiring will occur on a rolling basis. Please email ACE’s Canvass Director, Kati Ward, at with questions. To apply, send your resume and cover letter


COPPER RIVER WATERSHED PROJECT is seeking an AmeriCorps Volunteer or an Operations Manager. Applications are available at


To see the POSITIONS AVAILABLE at CALYPSO FARM AND ECOLOGY CENTER in Ester, near Fairbanks, go to


YOUTH EMPLOYMENT JOBS IN ANCHORAGE PARKS are now hiring for the summer of 2015. Positions include: YEP Program Assistant (1 position); YEP Project Crew Leader (4 positions); YEP Senior Crew Member (5 positions); and YEP Crew Member (21 positions). For more information about the YEP program, positions, and how to apply, go to All jobs are located in Anchorage.


AMERICORPS VISTA for the ALASKA FOOD POLICY COUNCIL to conduct outreach, coalition development, grant writing and fundraising to further the structure and sustainability of the AFPC. This is a one-year position located with the AK Dept. of Health and Social Services in Anchorage. The AFPC VISTA must be passionate about improving the local food system for all Alaskans. This person must be capable and experienced at working independently. This person must demonstrate leadership, relationship building, written communication, and public speaking skills. Experience and skills in grant writing and fundraising is critical. Experience working with a non-profit agency a plus. A comfortable familiarity with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Google, Facebook, and Twitter is needed. Experience in some aspect of the food system (agriculture, fishing, health, hunger, or food industry) would be beneficial. Alaska offers many exciting adventures for outdoor enthusiasts (or those who just appreciate nature’s beauty!) In Anchorage you’ll find all the typical big city amenities with easy access to the wilderness. Benefits include: Monthly living allowance ($1,222), relocation costs ($0.34/mile up to $1000) and settling in allowance ($550), health benefits, child care assistance, training, and an Education Award ($5,730). For more information and to apply for this position, visit:




EDUCATION PROGRAM ASSISTANT: Salary $10/hr. Position will assist the Executive Director and our participating Partners in conducting outdoor education programs, primarily K-12 age group. Responsibilities include: 1. Assist in planning and implementing a variety of summer activities including day hikes, skills workshops, outdoor art projects, science-themed overnight camps, citizen science projects, and volunteer work parties. 2. Plan and present lessons on topics such as boreal forest ecology, salmon life cycle, map reading, plant identification, skins and skulls, etc. 3. Do community outreach and partnership building with native villages, state and federal agencies, other area non-profits, and schools. 4. Program logistics including taking care of equipment, menu planning and food preparation, participant paperwork, land use permissions, and risk management. 5. Assist with citizen science and community based research, including Salmon Blitz and the Willow Creek Research Project. 6. Plan and complete special projects such as: o Develop new lesson plans, curriculum, or activities; o Assemble collections of resources for specific topics; o Write newsletter or newspaper articles


SUMMER TOUR GUIDE/ NATURALIST -Salary will be $17-$20 per hour depending on experience, and tips. Work will be part time to full time, depending on bookings. Naturalist is responsible for conducting Copper River Country Nature Tours (see for additional details). The tour consists of a van ride and nature walks, including subjects on the natural and cultural history of the Copper River Valley. Duties include: 1. Conduct tours, including group presentations, campsite preparation, and equipment maintenance and inventory. Tour group size will be between 2-12 clients. 2. Prepare and deliver unique presentations on the subjects listed above. 3. Drive the tour van between Princess Lodge and the campsite location. 4. Lead clients on nature walks of up to 1.5 miles round trip. 5. Inform clients about safety issues at appropriate points during the tour, including issues relating to the van ride, stops, campsite activities, and the walk.


WILLOW CREEK RESEARCH ASSISTANT Salary $10/hr. The research assistant will work in the Willow Creek Research Project in an effort to determine factors affecting quality and quantity of water in the Willow Creek watershed. The assistant will help in the placement and operation of research equipment and in the gathering and recording of data. Much of the work will take place outdoors, often in wet settings or while standing in flowing water. This position will provide direct experience and training in biological, hydrological, and ecological field research and may prove beneficial should the assistant decide to pursue these or related careers.
Please submit letter of interest to Robin Mayo, WISE, HC60 Bocx 338A, Copper Center, AK 99573. For further details, contact 907-822-3575or email


Photo credit (cropped): Peter Blanchard

]]> 0
Clean Water Rules! A Visit from EPA Head Gina McCarthy Thu, 16 Apr 2015 17:13:43 +0000

In case you missed this fall’s social media war, there has been quite a bit of heat surrounding the EPA’s initiative to clarify and close loopholes in the Clean Water Act. Rarely does the tedious process of administrative rulemaking generate this kind of public controversy. When agricultural interests launched the #DitchTheRule hashtag, the EPA responded with its own– #DitchTheMyth, which emphasized the exemption of normal farming activities under the new rule. After more than a year of drafting, hearings, and public comment, the Clean Water Rule is nearly on the books.

Last Tuesday EPA head Gina McCarthy visited the St. Paul Student Center to discuss the motivations behind the new rule and help dispel misconceptions. Her talk was preceded a panel of Minnesota clean water leaders who empahsized the particular importance of the rule to Minnesota. First, Congresswoman Betty McCullum spoke. “I can tell you the gory details of what that river looked like growing up, and it’s amazing what the Clean Water Act has done.” Clean water helps ensure long-term economic health, and is especially key to Minnesota’s $4 billion a year wildlife tourism industry. “Minnesotans know their heritage and their quality is dependent on clean and healthy water.”

Blue heron in Creek Park, Eden Prairie

Blue heron in Purgatory Creek Park, Eden Prairie

Other Congresspeople from Minnesota, including Senator Amy Klobuchar, Representative Keith Ellision, and Representative Rick Nolan, sent letters thanking the panelists and audience for their attention to clean water. Keith Ellison called the event “an important and  timely discussion” that was necessary to provide clean water “not just for those who can afford to live next to clean water.” Ellison particularly appreciates Gina McCarthy’s efforts. “Because of McCarthy’s leadership, over half of our water will be protected by the CWA.”

Senior attorney John Rumpler of Environment America followed the letters with a talk on the rule’s importance in Minnesota. “I can think of few states in this country that have more at stake on the issue of clean water… Clean water is crucial to our ecology, our economy, and our way of life.” He expressed concern over whether Americans will always be able to take safe drinking water for granted and asked the audience to reconsider how safe our waters really are. “People think that industrial point-source pollution is a thing of the past… but industry in Minnesota [emits] 200 million pounds in one year alone.” Over the past year, towns in Ohio and West Virginia have lost their drinking water, and Rumpler expects this to keep happening. “Are we going back to the dark old days in 1972?”

Elk River in West Virginia after the 2014 chemical spill

Elk River in West Virginia after the 2014 chemical spill

Rumpler overviewed a few major interests opposing the rule.The oil and natural gas industry have pipelines running through wetlands; the coal industry puts mining waste into mountain streams, and land developers often want to pave wetlands. But Rumpler argues the biggest opposing force comes from corporate agribusiness, which is associated with huge amounts of crop and manure runoff. “[Corporate agribusiness] is a hugely powerful force in Washington DC, and they’re making their voice heard in opposition to the Clean Water Rule, because let’s face it, they’re an enormous source of pollution.”

The rule is currently under interagency review and is expected to pass very soon. But Congress will then have 60 days to reject it, which may very well happen. Rumpler thus presses for the continued involvement of concerned citizens and groups until the rule passes the legislature. “We have a lot to do this spring and summer… and when it does happen, it will be the most significant step for clean water in more than a decade.”

When Gina McCarthy took the stage, she first applauded Representative McCullum for her strong advocacy of clean water. “You are very well represented in this state.”

McCarthy posed, “We are all driven to do this because we all live downstream of something… What is controversial about having clean drinking water?” Seven percent of Americans are without access to clean drinking water, many of whom are in tribal nations, and about thirty percent of all Americans rely on water that is insufficiently protected.

McCarthy acknowledged the politics behind the issue. “I’ve never heard of someone who purposely wanted to pollute drinking water… The question is when you want to have a national intervention.” Fortunately, scientific literature has clarified issues of significance and connection in water pollution, which helps the EPA make better judgment calls.

16297497043_f137bd938a_z (1)

Gina McCarthy in March 2015

An audience member asked McCarthy, “What do we need to do right now to get the Clean Water Rule over the finish line?” She answered, “I would ask you to continue to do the work you’re doing. Keep talking to people. Share information.” She emphasized the importance of local environmental initiatives to federal work.“While I’m having the time of my life, it’s not as much fun as working at the local level because it’s not as personal.” In a local setting, activists can “point to the kids” who will benefit from environmental protection, and otherwise put a human face on the issue. “We need people at the grassroots level.” “Nothing fun and exciting begins at the federal level… but [federal employees] are wonderfully creative people who take what you give them… I think your voice is just of immeasurable value.”

To support the Clean Water Rule on Twitter, use the new hashtag #CleanWaterRules.

A thorough guide to the new Clean Water Rule is available here.



Photo credit (blue heron): Carl Lacey
Photo credit (Elk River): Eric Chance
Photo credit (Gina McCarthy): Moms Clean Air Force

]]> 0
The BIG TEN REAL FOOD CHALLENGE LEADERSHIP TEAM Tue, 07 Apr 2015 18:05:38 +0000 Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 1.02.00 PM
The Big Ten Real Food Challenge Leadership Team

Program Description

Big Ten universities have inspired and educated young leaders for generations. Through booms and busts, droughts and floods, these universities have innovated and supported a world-renowned agricultural economy.

While there is much to admire about these iconic institutions’ research, innovation, and legacy, the 21st century brings new challenges — climate change, income inequality, a diet-related disease epidemic — that require a massive shift in how we think about the future of our food.

It’s time to face these challenges together — uniting across Big Ten universities to work towards a food system that truly nourishes producers, consumers, communities, and the earth — a real food system!

Student leaders currently enrolled at any Big Ten campus are invited to apply for the second phase of The Big Ten Real Food Challenge Leadership Team. Team members will join the Real Food Challenge, the largest national student organization working towards a healthy, just and sustainable food system.

Over the 6-month program period (June 2015 – December 2015), Leadership Team will have a unique opportunity to make a real impact in the food system, while building community with powerful changemakers across the country. They will receive in-depth training, develop campaigns for their universities to adopt the Real Food Campus Commitment, and shape opportunities to work together across the Big Ten conference.

Already signed by 30 prominent universities, including John Hopkins University, the University of Montana-Missoula, and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the Real Food Campus Commitment mandates:
-At least 20% “real food” purchasing — which would mean upwards of $20 million shifted to real food, across the Big Ten
-Transparent purchasing practices through public, annual progress reports using the student-led Real Food Calculator assessment tool.
-New institutional support for academic and co-curricular education on just and sustainable food systems.
-Leadership Team Activities and Responsibilities
-Build a learning & organizing community, in-person and remotely, with the support of Real Food Challenge staff
-Participate in a 2-3 day Leadership Team retreat in August or September – details TBD based on team availability
-Participate in established real food campaigns OR begin the effort on your campus

Training and Support
All Leadership Team members will receive:
-In-depth webinar workshop series on campus food systems, student organizing, large-scale strategic campaign planning, and the Real Food Challenge (June 2015)
-Community-building and leadership training in-person during in-person campus visits and/or Leadership Team retreat
-Rigorous leadership development support and hands-on experience with participatory campaigns
-One-on-one coaching and mentorship from experienced Real Food Challenge staff
• The opportunity to apply for the second phase of the program (January-June 2016)

-Currently enrolled student at a Big Ten university*
-Ability to commit 2-4 hours/week to the program, from June 2015 – December 2015
-Interest in food systems, social justice, student power, participatory research, strategic campaign planning, event-planning, and/or community organizing
-Excitement about creating something HUGE: shifting millions of Big Ten dining dollars to Real Food!
-Team Applications of two or more individuals from newly participating schools are required (each member of the team should submit a separate application)
-Campaign teams are established at University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, University of Michigan, Indiana University, and Ohio State University. As part of the application process, we will get you connected to established groups if you apply from one of these campuses.
-If you are applying from a new Big 10 campus, you need to apply with at least 2-3 students from your campus, to participate together as a team. Please be in touch for ideas and support for doing outreach on your campus to start a group! (Contact

*Limited spaces will also be considered for Big Ten alumni or students from non-Big Ten allied universities.

Applications are due Wednesday, April 15. Click here to apply.
Questions? email

Applicants who identify as working class, people of color, women, LGBTQ, genderqueer, and differently-abled are strongly encouraged to apply.

]]> 0
Climate Change and Energy Law and Policy: Local to Global Perspectives Fri, 03 Apr 2015 19:01:40 +0000 SUST 3480 banner

Understand how climate change challenges human populations and the environment and how local, state, national and international policy can mitigate climate change. Examine actions already taken or being considered by local, state, national and international governmental organizations to address climate change, with a special focus on Minnesota. Consider climate change solutions in light of economic development, social development, political and geopolitical issues.

Course Description


Ellen Anderson, UMN Energy Transition Lab Executive Director and former state senator, PUC Chair, and senior energy advisor to Governor Dayton; Melissa Hortman, State Representative, County Attorney, and author of Minnesota’s solar standard.

This class could be your ticket to Paris!

Look on for more information, soon!

Through this class, apply to participate in the United Nations Climate Talks in Paris (the “Conference of the Partners” or COP 21) this Fall, 2015 as part of a University of Minnesota delegation.

Students in SUST 3480 will be well prepared to be first-hand observers at the international climate talks, at which an international agreement on carbon emissions will be negotiated, as part of separate study abroad course also offered in fall 2015 for 10 days:

Student Delegation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference in Paris from Nov 28- Dec 5, 2015, offered as UMN study abroad course.

]]> 0
Change Agent Profile: Cora Ellenson-Myers Fri, 27 Mar 2015 19:00:13 +0000 change angent

This month’s edition of Change Agent Profile covers Cora Ellenson-Myers, Clean Water Campaign Organizer with Environment Minnesota.


Written by guest blogger Kristen Peterson


cora ellenson-myersCora Ellenson-Myers is a Clean Water Campaign organizer with Environment Minnesota. She is a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities’ Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management program, after which she transitioned directly into her campaign work. I sat down to talk with her about her motivation, her work, and her future goals to protect the environment and make sustainable change.

When established members of the nonprofit community reflect back upon their lives, it’s easy to see how events transpired to create their success. The Twin Cities community is home to many of these successful, inspiring leaders who work on sustainability issues every day. Their paths often seem very clear in hindsight, as if they knew exactly what they wanted to do all along. However, in reality most lives and careers do not unfold so predictably. In order to better understand how young sustainability leaders begin their careers, I decided to interview a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota. I wanted to find out how someone who is hoping to use her education to lead sustainable change in the world views her next steps in terms of her career and future.

After a short search, I found that Cora Ellenson-Myers fit the bill perfectly. In the grand scheme of life, she is only beginning her career journey, but she is already leading communities and working toward sustainability goals. As I interviewed Cora in the kitchen of her sunny apartment, I found that I had plenty of questions to ask her.

I first wanted to know how Cora impacts environmental issues on a day-to-day basis. As a campaign organizer for Environment Minnesota, Cora spends most of her time working to close loopholes in the Clean Water Act in order to ensure that our water supply is clean and usable for people and wildlife alike. Cora works on these issues primarily by planning events, communicating with the media, building coalitions, training interns, and using social media to gain support for clean water issues. She feels that some of her most valuable efforts include working with coalitions because she has been able to make real change alongside professionals in the water quality field this way. Cora also feels effective and empowered when she can directly impact elected officials, small businesses, and nonprofits. She enjoys helping these people get involved with clean water issues by joining coalitions or attending events. Perhaps most impressively, she plans events that connect Minnesota state Senators, Representatives, experts, stakeholders, and citizens to discuss and educate about water quality issues in our communities.

With all of this going on in Cora’s career, I started to wonder what originally motivated her to work on environmental issues. Cora says that she attributes much of her current motivation to the ways she was influenced during her younger years. As a child, she was strongly affected by her parents and stepparents, who were all in “helping professions” like nursing and nonprofit work. Today, Cora plans to pursue a “helping profession” of her own by helping the environment: what she believes is the “most important challenge our generation faces.” Cora also remembers being politically active with her family from a young age, doing activities like going along with her parents to vote and volunteering for campaigns. In addition, she remembers a specific “aha” moment during her high school biology class. When a group project led her to pursue in-depth research about deforestation in tropical rainforests, Cora vividly recalls feeling “outraged” and “frustrated,” wanting to immediately take some sort of action on the problem. Although the clean water issues Cora currently works on in Minnesota may seem rather unrelated to rainforest deforestation, this story shows how Cora’s passion for environmental issues translates into such effective action in her day-to-day work. Cora succinctly describes in her own words what drives her to make environmental change: “A sense of outrage, responsibility, and knowledge that what I’m doing is meaningful and necessary.”

Although Cora is very involved in her current work, she readily admits that she isn’t sure how she plans to work on environmental change in the future. Cora believes that clean water issues are very important, but she also prioritizes climate change as a top environmental issue. Cora is open-minded about the future and says that in ten years she could see herself “directing a nonprofit, being the communications director for an organization, or doing political advocacy.”

For undergraduates trying to discern which career path to pursue, Cora recommends volunteering as an excellent way to explore one’s interests and find out what kinds of roles are available in various organizations. Cora emphasizes that volunteering can be just as helpful as an official internship, and she attributes much of her own growth during her time at the University of Minnesota to volunteer experiences.

After talking with Cora about her work and her goals, I have a clearer picture of how a motivated young person can transition step-by-step into an effective leadership role. It’s clear that Cora is already making an important difference in our community, so who knows where her journey will take her next? We will just have to wait and see… or better yet, we can speed up the process by pitching in and working on environmental change along with her.

]]> 0
Place at the Table Sustainability Film Series Engages Food Justice in U.S. Food System Wed, 25 Mar 2015 21:19:46 +0000 At the recent Sustainability Film Series, participants engaged with hunger and poverty in the United States with a thinking and doing evening on Thursday, March 5th, 6:30 PM at the Bell Museum.

A Place at the Table is an acclaimed documentary detailing the social and environmental injustices between our food system, communities, poverty, and legislative processes. The event also featured a discussion with special guest speaker Michael Chaney, Executive Director of Project Sweetie Pie in North Minneapolis. “I wouldn’t call myself a gardener,” he stated, “but a freedom fighter.” Discussion ranged from Farm Bill politics, to changing things from the ground up (literally with the local youth-based gardening project within North Minneapolis’ food desert), to equity and sustainability.

The audience also was able to share their thoughts in a creative way and pass them along to decision makers in an interactive activist-art project on hunger. Participants filled in cards in response to questions like “what is hunger, why does hunger exist, what can we do to prevent hunger, how can we address food insecurity” which they then contributed to a collective mobile, to make a powerful statement about hunger and food insecurity. Copies of the cards will be sent to decision makers who are passing (or not) legislation on food-related policies and you can see the mobile at the Institute on the Environment. And hey, at the food-themed event, there was free food with a purpose. Jenny Breen, head chef at Health Foods, Healthy Lifes, featured various black bean recipes, showing how to prepare food on a budget.

Fear not if you missed the grand time. The next film in the series, Watermark, a documentary that explores our relationship with water and how it shapes humanity, will be shown Thursday, April 2 at the Bell Museum at 6:30 PM.

Many thanks to the Institute on the Environment’s Undergrad Leaders who planned and organized the fabulous time and project sponsors.

150305_9217_1500 150305_9232_1500 150305_9262_1500  150305_9244_1500 150305_9229_1500 150305_9297_1500 150305_9235_1500 150305_9190_1500

]]> 0