University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
Sustainability Education

Sustainability Alumni Change Agent Profile: Q & A with Kari Schwab

December 30, 2014Kate FlickGeneral, Resources, Undergraduate NewsComments Off on Sustainability Alumni Change Agent Profile: Q & A with Kari Schwab

By Maggie Kristian, Institute on the Environment Leaders’ Program



Kari Schwab graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2010 with a B.S. in Agricultural and Food Business Management. Schwab grew up on a farm in Minnesota, and was very involved in FFA before coming to the University of Minnesota. She has worked for U.S. senators as well as in policy and education, especially that relating to agriculture. However, she has also continued to bring her impressive skill sets and achievements back to the University, and is now actively involved with the Policy Engagement Program which works to connect CFANS students with Minnesota policy leaders through the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council (MAELC), working to not only play a great role in the future of Minnesota’s Agriculture policy, but empower and enable students to truly understand and impact the state and environment in which they live.


Q: You had a very business/marketing oriented major; how did you end up working in such a policy-oriented field?

A: Well, I always had some interest in politics. I remember my mother would always talk about the elections at home, and when I was at the U, the Franken/Coleman recounts were going on, so there was a lot of discussion around that on campus. I had always though I wanted to go into agriculture, into ag-business, that was kind of my big picture plan for things. When I graduated in 2010 though, the economy wasn’t that great for jobs, so I worked retail for a few years, just as a job. But then there was a major change in the U.S. Senate, and lots of new people who needed staff. So I applied there. Eventually, they had some legislative positions open up, for full-time, year-round positions. I ended up working for Senator Nelson, vice chair of the Minnesota Senate Education Committee– so again, the education theme- and worked for her for about a year. After that, I found an opening in the Agriculture Committee.

Q: How did you get involved in the CFANS Policy Engagement Program?

A: I actually read about it in The Daily, while I was working at the Senate, and I thought it was really cool, and I wanted to be involved. I went to a few meetings in 2013 and was asked to continue helping out in 2014. This version of the program is kind of new, because there are three of us that are new. We try to play to each other’s strengths. Last session, for example, I facilitated the discussion because I have some knowledge of the elections, especially local politics.

Q: What’s your vision for the CFANS Policy Engagement Program going forward? Is there anything you want to change?

A: I want to see students with a clear understanding of how these [political] processes work, so it’s not just showing up and doing some activities. People are devoting a lot of time to this, 3 hours each month, for no class credit. We have talked about having clear outcomes for a relevant and valuable experience. Last year we didn’t really get to focus on international, which is something we want to do.

Q: Why do you like your job? What makes you get up and come in to work every morning?

A: I think it’s the people and the variety of work. One day I could be working with high school students, Future Farmers of America kids and people who are interesting in maybe pursuing Ag-Ed…College students when I’m here in the office. Students are just really fun to work with. We also have a 16 person board with a lot of different backgrounds, we have 6 legislators, 2 farmers, someone from the FFA foundation, the president of the agriculture department. I get to interact with a wide variety of people there; our goal is to be the go-to source about legislation regarding Ag policy. We want to be that information source, so we end up in a lot of policy-oriented environments, we end up in the capitol about once a year. It’s nice because I get to have the policy side of things without the headache of the capitol schedule- sometimes we’d be up until 3 in the morning!

Q: So you’ve obviously been involved in policy that affects a lot of people. What advice would you give to a freshman College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences student today on how they could also become a world shaper?

A: If you’re interested in policy, make connections with people. And I know that sounds really difficult for a student. The senate offers a really great Minnesota Senate College Internship Program, and you don’t need to know a ton about policy to do it. I picked up a lot of it when I was there. It was all hands-on learning. There’s also usually a day dedicated for students to go to the capitol and gather, to have a rally. It could be union day, it could be University of Minnesota day, and basically any organization that has members has a day when they can meet with their legislators. It’s open to any student, and it’s a great opportunity.

Other than that, just watch the news! You have to go and seek it out, but it keeps you up to date and educated for when you have to talk to people about it. And the Minnesota State Capitol Building is always open –well, right now it’s under construction- but it’s the people’s building, and you can honestly call up any legislator, and depending on schedules you might not always get an appointment, but you can totally go and talk to one of your representative for 10 minutes and say ‘I want to talk about tuition freezing’ or whatever it is. That’s definitely something that’s unique about this country, and about Minnesota, it’s a really transparent system compared to a lot of other states.



You’re Invited! 2nd Annual Sustainability Fair Celebrating Sustainable and Vibrant Communities

October 15, 2014Kate FlickEvents, General, ResourcesComments Off on You’re Invited! 2nd Annual Sustainability Fair Celebrating Sustainable and Vibrant Communities


For residents, business leaders, community groups, and anyone interested in learning more about living a sustainable lifestyle. Presented by the Three Rivers Park District and the cities of Lauderdale, St. Anthony Village, and Falcon Heights.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

5:30-8:30 pm

Silverwood Park

2500 County Road E W

St. Anthony, MN 55421

FREE and open to the public

Family friendly! Activities for all ages will be provided

Riding public transportation, biking, or carpooling to the event is encouraged.

This event is also co-hosted by St. Anthony Village Citizens for Sustainability and by UMN Sustainability Education through the UMN Institute on the Environment.



This is a great event for vendors because it provides the opportunity to engage residents who share a common vision of trying to become more sustainable. It’s also a great event for community leaders and local residents because it gives the opportunity to learn, network and gain resources to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

                                    –Mark Casey, St. Anthony Village City Administrator

History of the event

Falcon Heights, Lauderdale, and St. Anthony Village have over twenty years of history collaborating through shared resources and ideas. In the winter of 2012, the three cities came together to build on their synergies and work toward the common goal of creating a more sustainable and vibrant community.

In fall of 2012, a sustainability plan was created for each city in conjunction with the University of Minnesota Sustainable Communities class. Students helped to collect data, determine city goals, and establish a starting point for a city sustainability vision and work plan.

Read the sustainability plan for Falcon Heights, Lauderdale, and St. Anthony Village as well as Three Rivers Park District

In fall of 2013, the cities’ visions moved from policy to practical. The first annual sustainability fair was hosted at Silverwood Park, a logical partner because of the park’s leadership in energy efficiency, water management, community engagement, and land stewardship. The fair provided resources on how the residents of three communities can be more sustainable and access the resources they need.”

In its second year, the event promises to be widely attended and more impactful. Resources providers will discuss and share information with residents and local leaders to build a community-wide call for action to make progress toward sustainability goals. Together, we can build a more sustainable community.

Food Day 2014

September 2, 2014Elizabeth HokeEvents, General, Graduate News, Undergraduate NewsComments Off on Food Day 2014

food day

The iconic turkey dinner at Thanksgiving. The classic birthday cake. A warm bowl of chicken noodle soup when you’re under the weather. These are just some of the ways great food has come to symbolize the many events of our lives. But for many peoples across Minnesota, America, and the world, food does not have these luxurious attachments. Every day, over half a million people in Minnesota are unsure when or where they will have their next meal. That’s where Food Day comes in.


Food Day is a national initiative that was created in 2010 in response animal cruelty and the growing number of people affected by obesity, diabetes, heart disease, environmental degradation, and unfair working conditions. Food Day prompts Americans to look at these problems and their relation to food in order to inspire solution-driven action. Specifically considering the recent deepening of socioeconomic gaps, Food Day 2014 will have a special focus on food access and justice for food and farm workers.

You are invited to this year’s Food Day UMN-TC event on October 24th at the University Recreation and Wellness Center. An artfully blended vinaigrette of education, advocacy, and free samples, UMN’s Food Day is a great opportunity to learn about delicious local food options and the privilege that is often required to have access to many of them.

Keep up with the event’s development and discuss food systems, policies surround them, and personal diet improvements on Facebook or Twitter, using the #FoodDay2014 hashtag.

Apply for the SELF Sustain Student Leadership Conference

February 10, 2014MadelineGeneral, Undergraduate NewsComments Off on Apply for the SELF Sustain Student Leadership Conference

self sustain

This April 11 and 12, the Institute on the Environment and University Services will host students from across the University system for the Student Engaged Leadership Forum (SELF) Sustain conference, a two-day summit for students of all disciplines to network and discuss sustainability and campus development. We are looking for students engaged in sustainability through clubs, internships, coursework, organizations, or research who aim to make meaningful contributions to sustainability in the future.

The conference will take place at the Twin Cities campus from 12:00 pm on Friday, April 11 to 4:00 pm on Saturday, April 12. After a visit to the Sustainability Symposium, students will be paired up to exchange ideas on campus sustainability, have dinner, and spend the evening exploring the Bell Museum of Natural History. On Saturday students will engage in roundtable discussions, prepare presentations on their own involvement in sustainability, and have time to network and continue their conversations on sustainability. To learn more about this experience and how it may impact your future as a sustainability leader, check out the recap from the 2012 SELF Sustain.

Accommodations for non-Twin Cities students will be provided at the University Inn.

Fill out this form to apply!
If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact:

Katie Lederman
Beth Mercer-Taylor: 612-624-9430

Students for Sustainability is Up, Running, and Welcoming New Members

October 28, 2013MadelineGeneral, Undergraduate NewsComments Off on Students for Sustainability is Up, Running, and Welcoming New Members


Abbey Seitz

In spring of 2013, Sustainability Education provided the opportunity for students across the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities to form a student group dedicated to promoting sustainability on campus and connecting students from a variety of fields to sustainability events. This summer the student officers of Students for Sustainability, or “SFORS” (pronounced “S-Force”), thought about how to engage UMN students before settling on their mission statement: “We are a student group aimed at providing leadership opportunities to University Students interested in becoming involved with sustainable events and programs on campus and in the surrounding Twin Cities communities.” They plan to live out this purpose by collaborating with students of a variety of interests through sustainable farm tours, zero waste events, Earth Day functions, and other activities.

Their first step was to communicate with students about both environmental concerns on campus and opportunities for them to be leaders in solving these problems.  The first event they were involved in was the “Sustainability Action!” Welcome Week event, at which the officers asked hundreds of incoming freshman about the issues and activities they would want to become involved in. Answers varied from tailgating at football games with compost bins to allying with other initiatives like the Children’s Water Festivals and Students Against Hunger. Later on September 20th, SFORS participated in Minneapolis’s (Park)ing Day to engage with students as well as the Twin Cities community. The officers are continuously seeking local events to take part in, and we have already taken part in Minnesota We Day, TCF Gameday recycling initiatives, and the Power Shift student energy conference in Pittsburgh. They have also teamed with Congressman Keith Ellison’s office to help host a citywide climate rally taking place on Wednesday, November 6th. They are enjoying a successful first year and hope you join them in making a more sustainable University of Minnesota!

SforS is open to students with a variety of interests and experiences. If you would like to become involved, below are a few ways to reach us:

Meetings are held every-other Wednesday with the next general meeting occurring on October 30th at 6:30 pm in STSS 330. Come and join!

The Sustainability Education website is administered by the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.

The University of Minnesota offers sustainability courses in most of its colleges and campuses around the state. These courses encompass biophysical sciences, social sciences, humanities, arts, design, engineering, business, and health. The Sustainability Studies minor is one of several interdisciplinary programs through which such diverse courses come together.