Alumni Profiles

Environmental Studies

Maren (Anderson) Webb '07

Majors
Environmental Studies and French

As I started my time as Gustavus, my interest in environmental issues and social change led me to choose a major in Environmental Studies. Even back then I understood that we could no longer take the natural world for granted and that I wanted to work for change. Through my ES coursework, coupled with my activist work, study abroad, and internships, I gained a working knowledge of the main environmental issues that we face and tangible skills to work in this arena. I greatly benefited from Gustavus’ focus on learning inside and outside the classroom. As a leader with the Gustavus Greens, I developed leadership and grassroots organizing skills. I also was able to study abroad in Madagascar, marrying my interest in environmental sustainability and population growth through my research project on family planning programs.

Internships were important to my career development in this field. During my time as a student I spent a summer with the Lake County Health Department working with water quality issues, another as a Natural Resource Intern with the MN DNR at Tettegouche State Park, and another summer as an Air Quality Intern with the Nez Perce Tribe in Idaho (through the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals at Northern Arizona University). After completing my studies at Gustavus, I joined the Lutheran Volunteer Corps and worked for a nonprofit (Women's Funding Network) in San Francisco for one year. I then decided to return to school and continued my studies at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. I received my Master of Public Policy in 2010, with a concentration in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy. I am now living in Chicago and pursuing a career in environmental policy and advocacy, and working at REI on the side.

Ingrid (Vick) Schwingler, '07

Majors
Environmental Studies and Political Science

I attended Gustavus Adolphus College knowing I'd major in Environmental Studies. To solidify that decision, I contacted ES alumni to see where life had taken them post GAC. I liked what I heard and I knew ES was the right decision for me. I was also able to double major in Political Science. I was very happy with the course topics and instructors in the ES Department! I remember many great course discussions, field trips and challenging homework assignments. I studied abroad junior year with GAC's Social Justice, Peace and Development (SJPD): A Semester in India program, which complemented my majors extremely well. Choosing to study abroad with the SJPD program was one of the best decisions I ever made.

My senior year I completed an internship with Clean Up the River Environment during J-Term, followed by a spring semester internship with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy's Rural Communities Program to complement my Political Science thesis topic. By the time I graduated, I made many great connections with folks involved in environmentally-related careers. After graduation, I headed to Minneapolis, MN to complete an internship with Windustry. Growing up near Buffalo Ridge, and learning about various aspects of wind energy during ES courses and field trips, I knew that somehow someway I'd end up in the wind industry, just like I "knew" an ES major was right for me. After Windustry, I became the Creation Care Coordinator for the Lutheran Coalition for Public Policy in Minnesota. In May 2008 I began as an Environmental Scientist for HDR Engineering, Inc. in Minneapolis, MN. At HDR I work with clients to comply with local, state and federal laws for their power and energy development projects (wind, transmission, solar etc.) across the country. I help prepare permit applications, conduct environmental research, biological field work, and coordinate with agencies. I love my job and am proud to say I use my ES major every day.

Aaron Crowell, '03

Major
Biology
Minor
Environmental Studies

My education as a Biology major and Environmental Studies minor at Gustavus closely ties to my current science policy work as a contractor to the Department of Energy's Biomass Program. I took a circuitous path to arrive here though. My years at Gustavus gave me the opportunity to explore topics on science, the environment, religion, and politics and instilled in me a passion to continuing exploring broad ideas through work, service, and education.

One of my most formative mentors at Gustavus that encouraged me to explore was my professor, research supervisor, and friend, Dr. Cindy Johnson. Our research team pursued knowledge about the ecosystem and biology of rare ferns called Moonworts, spending countless hours crawling on forest floors and staring into laboratory microscopes. We started a book club to discuss the state of the environment, the ethics of conservation, and the policies and politics that could safeguard ecosystems in the future. And most importantly, we closely supported each other during the daunting task of deciding what to do and where to go after graduation.

I wanted to explore vast landscapes and the put the world of ideas into action after college. A fellow Gustie, Phil Graeve, and I decided to put a twist on the classic post-graduation road trip; we converted a 1980 diesel Volkswagon truck to run off of used vegetable oil and drove across the American West, stopping to filter fuel out of the grease barrels behind restaurants. Soon after, I joined the Lutheran Volunteer Corps for a year, working at the Government Accountability Project, an environmental nonprofit in Seattle that safeguarded the Columbia River and protected the rights of whistleblowers at the Hanford Nuclear Waste site. Next, I decided to attend United Theological Seminary in Minnesota and focused my studies on the Christian tradition of creation care and ethics of environmental stewardship. Then, to improve my skills in the political arena, I studied Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute. Now I'm gaining valuable experience working on sustainability issues like greenhouse gas emissions, water quality, and land-use, as the federal government helps develop the domestic biofuels industry. It's difficult for me to predict where my career path will head next, but I am thankful that my experiences at Gustavus made me eager to explore new possibilities.