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Former Staff & Interns

Mindy Granley (2008 - 2020)

mindy granley

Professional title



Mindy Granley grew up in the outdoors, just north of Duluth, MN. Most of her childhood days were spent in the woods, observing water flow and freeze and thaw in the forests surrounding her home. This inspired her to study hydrogeology in undergraduate school (B.S. in Geology/Hydrogeology, University of Minnesota-Duluth), work on runoff and sediment data collection in theArctic Circle (via the University of Massachusetts Amherst) and to study nutrient dynamics and water quality of Valley Creek, a high-quality trout stream in southeastern Washington County (M.S., Water Resources Science, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities).  In 2019, she became a Certified Energy Manager, through the Association of Energy Engineers. As Sustainability Director, Mindy works to advance energy initiatives to comply with the Board of Regents policy on Energy Efficiency and Sustainability and meet goals identified in our campus Carbon Commitment. She champions campus projects and leads outreach to promote energy and greenhouse gas emission reductions. The Office of Sustainability also connects students to learning opportunities via partnerships with staff and faculty in academics, operations, co-curricular units, and the local community.

Favorite thing about working in the Sustainability Office: Connecting UMD students with projects that help reduce waste and save energy on campus and knowing that their exposure to sustainability will follow them into whatever career field they venture into.  Helping include sustainability concepts in student projects, coursework, or research.  Communicating the sustainable changes my UMD colleagues have made in campus operations.  Planning for future changes on campus that will reduce our carbon emissions.

Why sustainability is important: The biggest reason sustainability is important to me is because I care about the future of my friends, family and people around the world. We all depend on the Earth’s environment to provide clean air, drinkable water, food and a stable climate. However, these environmental systems are impacted by the choices we make every day in society: what we buy, what powers us, what we throw away, what we use. Balancing environmental impacts while meeting the needs of society in an economically efficient way is a big challenge, but it is one we have to face in order to sustain our lives and our future.

Responsibilities: My job is to help inspire and coordinate sustainability efforts, communicate our progress, and assess the changes UMD is making to be more sustainable.

Most recent publication: Christiansen, Mary U., A. Hoxie, M. Granley, J. Slick, “Shines!: University Engineering, Students Advancing Duluth’s Sustainable Development.” Sustainability: The Journal of Record. December 2017.

Where is she now? Mindy left UMD to become the first Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Duluth. Her new email contact is

Dave Herrera (2016-2019)


Background: I am originally from Medellin, Colombia, but now reside in St. Louis Park, a suburb of Mpls, where I went to high school. Being from Minneapolis, I grew up doing a lot of road biking in the city and around the lakes, enjoying tea and coffee at local coffee shops, and enjoying the green spaces that Minneapolis has to offer. I also enjoy doing a lot of camping and hiking when able (and any other outdoor activity).

I am in the Social Work program here at UMD, which has opened my mind on how I view a lot of everyday topics, including sustainability. I am interested in sustainability because I believe having a sustainable future is a human right. Clean water, air, and a sturdy and fair economy should be a right; these all fit under the term of “sustainability.” I hope to include people from many different backgrounds into the sustainability conversation with my social work degree.

When I am not in the office, you can find me in any of the other extracurricular activities I am a part of,  hiking and camping in random areas, biking through traffic in Minneapolis streets,  enjoying coffee and pastries from local shops, or sitting in my desk while sipping freshly steeped tea. 

Cole Grotting (2017-2019)


Background: Hailing from NE Minneapolis, MN, Cole was introduced at a young age to the joys of the natural world and the importance of protecting it. He and his dad enjoyed annual canoe trips to voyageurs national park and with his entire family, explored many other national parks around the country throughout his formative years. Additionally, Cole is a veteran composter bringing more than a decade of experience bringing buckets of compost behind his garage to the sustainability team. In his free time, Cole enjoys rock climbing, surfing, hanging out with vegetables at the SAP Farm, and rocking out with his dream pop/noise rock band “Just Birds.” After bouncing around majors for a while Cole finally settled on an Environment and Sustainability B.A and he couldn’t be happier. He is excited at the opportunity to keep working to reduce our carbon footprint, minimize our waste, keep our waters clean, transform our food system, and protect our wild land for future generations. 

Beca Livermont (2018 - 2019)


Background: Originally I am from Fargo, ND, but I crossed the river to Minnesota in 2018. Graphic Design major. The environment has been a passion of mine since I was little, because I love being outdoors and feeling connected with nature. We take so much of this earth for granted, and it’s time we start giving back to it! When I’m not at the office you can find me at my other job giving tours at Glensheen, exploring the great outdoors, downing some coffee or watching Vines with friends (RIP Vine). 

Amy Bendtsen (2018-2019)


Background: I grew up in a suburb of the Twin Cities, doing the traditional Minnesotan sport of hockey and enjoying time outside going camping and fishing with my dad from the time I could hold myself up. In high school, I attended the School of Environmental Studies (SES) or better known as “the zoo school” as the school is located on Minnesota Zoo grounds. This school taught me about environmental issues and inspired me to become an Environment and Sustainability major. Through my passion for nature I have joined the Office of Sustainability as an intern working on the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS) in an attempting to get UMD’s campus to a Gold rating in sustainability. 

Juliana Epstein (2018-2019)


Background: I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin but was originally born in Romania and adopted when I was very young. I hadn’t been to Minnesota much before coming to UMD but decided to choose here because of all the nature. I am a Public Health Major. My roommates and I frequently go hiking and exploring in parks throughout Minnesota and northern Wisconsin. I love sustainability and work to improve the earth because I know we all have a responsibility to do our part. I’ve seen my lakes in Madison get polluted and seen what not putting the earth first has done across the world. I want to help in all the ways I can to put the earth first and incorporate sustainability into my community. 

Victor Chuol (2016-2018)


Background:  In addition to working at the Office of Sustainability, I also work in the Swenson College of Science and Engineering Outreach/Communication office as a student worker, and the UMD Statesman as a Business & Logistics Intern. I was born in Nairobi, Kenya. My family and I moved to Minnesota in 2003 and I grew up in Rochester, MN. I enjoy being outdoors and listening/producing music in my free time.

Why sustainability is important: Sustainability is important to me because its main focus, in my opinion, is a shared responsibility for our surroundings. I am also a very logical thinker and I think that it’s only logical that our society becomes more responsible and starts working towards ways to produce the same goods & provide the same services in cleaner ways. There are smarter and cleaner ways to do things but getting rid of a bad habit is always challenging.

What I do: I help the office with website development, management, and maintenance. 

Molly McKeen (Fall 2018)

Molly McKeen perched on a rock near a lake with mountains in the background

As an Environment and Sustainability major, Molly has been involved in our projects for many years -- volunteering for trash audits and integrating compost bins into student organization offices. In her final semester at UMD, she helped us put on our first Free Store Winter Pop-up which provided winter jackets, mittens, hats, socks, and sweaters to UMD students, for FREE! It was an extension of our first ever free store pop-up that happened on Move-In Day 2018. Molly helped organize the donation drive which provided the stock for the store. 

Kelsey Omariba (Fall 2018)

Kelsey Omariba

I am originally from Rogers, Minnesota, which is a small suburban town about 30 mins west of Minneapolis. Kelsey was our marketing department during the Fall 2018 semester. She maintained our social media feeds and kept things lively, as well as dabbled in graphic design for posters, events, and digital signage. She transferred to the Twin Cities campus and we wish her the best in finishing her undergraduate degree! 

Maddie Sinclair (2016-2018)

Maddie Sinclair with #GreenBulldog sign

I grew up in a smaller city in Great Falls, Montana. My family and I have always enjoyed spending time outdoors and especially visiting Glacier National Park. For me, sustainability is a no brainer. It’s amazing what a large impact small actions and differences in your everyday life can make.

Currently, I am working as a Financial Analyst at IBM in Rochester, MN.

Jordan Woodland (2016-2018)

I am originally from Lake Mills Wisconsin and a senior in the graphic design and marketing program. I was introduced to sustainability my freshman year on the sustainability floor with lots of other students sharing the same passion. I have been designing for the Office of Sustainability since my sophomore year and made many different items including the chico bags sold in the school store. I enjoy sea glass hunting on the shores of Lake Superior, you never know what you will find! I am interested in sustainable design and how I can make a difference even in my digital work.

Samantha Johnston (2017-2018)

I come from a very small town from northern Wisconsin named Sayner, actually where the first model and idea of the famous snowmobile came from! Growing up there being active outdoors and doing things like hunting and fishing lead me to want find something like home here in Duluth. As a senior at UMD I am a Communication major with a minor in Environment and Sustainability. I am interested in sustainability, because I not only think we should preserve what we have for future generations, but we are only gifted with one beautiful earth and we should try to keep it that way as long as we can. Joining the crew at the Office of Sustainability helps me to be able to make a change I want to be seen to keep our community thriving. When I’m not in the office though, I can be seen helping out with the Love Your Melon campus crew, volunteering with the Friends of the Boundary Waters association and exploring the north shore.

Colin Nowicki (Spring 2018)

Colin Nowicki with Sustainability Staff during food waste event

Colin Nowicki pushed for some amazing projects during his final semester at UMD including a food waste awareness event, an extensive data collection initiative to track which areas/departments of campus are generating what levels of waste, and also helped update a 16 page sustainability brochure for Dining Services. His work has launched continued effort to monitor and reduce food waste, identify ways to reduce general trash levels from targeted areas of campus, and better communicate sustainability efforts. 

Tamara Schmidt (Spring 2018)

Hi! I’m Tamara Schmidt. I am a Public Health Education and Promotion major. I have had a passion for sustainability since I was a small kid. I’m from a small town in central Minnesota called Parkers Prairie. Since I basically grew up in a village, there wasn’t a garbage man that came and took our recycling or compost from our house. Therefore, at age 10, little Tamara would collect all of the house recycling, put it in a tote on a wagon, hook it to the bicycle, and bring it out to the recycling center once a week. My dad let me turn in the cans for money and I would take uneaten food and feed it to the animals outside. That is where my passion sparked. I took these sustainability habits with me to college, bringing a bag with me on my walk to school and picking up litter along with way. I love the outdoors and enjoy year round hiking, biking, and camping.  I spend a lot of time up the Northshore taking my nieces and nephews out to adventure. I am a minimalist and have recently converted a van that I lived in for a month last summer. I love encouraging others to make small sustainability habits like bringing a reusable cup to the coffee shop or reusable grocery bag to the grocery store.

Synneva Hackman (Spring 2018)

I am originally from La Crosse, WI and I have always enjoyed the outdoors, especially growing up surrounded by the La Crosse Bluffs and next to the Mississippi River. I am a senior at the UMD studying Public Health Education and Promotion with a community basis. I am passionate about environmental, global, and women's health. I am interning at the Office of Sustainability to promote sustainability and environmental health through the idea that a healthy planet means for healthy individuals and communities. I am working to present this idea through informing the public of ways to live a sustainable lifestyle that also is a healthier lifestyle. In my off time I love enjoying the Duluth outdoors hiking, snowboarding, trail running, taking walks along Lake Superior, and exploring the North Shore.

Nathan Thomas (Fall 2017)

Position: Sustainability Intern - Energy 

Bio: I grew up in a small city called Circle Pines, it’s right next to Blaine. Growing up the outdoors have always been a big part of my life from hunting and fishing to making maple syrup and beekeeping, I’ve experienced so many awesome things that I want future generations to be able to enjoy. I am currently a senior majoring in Civil Engineering with a focus on water resources and environmental engineering. I’m interested in sustainability because we have a lot of work to do, and we have an opportunity to create new jobs and secure a feasible sustainable future. My favorite shade of green is dark green.

Ryan Hueffmeier

ryan hueffmeier

Postion: Sustainability Education Coordinator 

Bio: I’m interested in understanding the components that make up sustainability in a diverse research facility such as the NRRI. For example I’m interested in understanding the processes that lead to behavior change, defining research questions that move a sustainability initiative forward, or building sustainability into the research process itself.

Why sustainability is important: We reside on a spinning rock with finite resources and that alone
should demand the wise use of those resources. The most compelling reason for me to be a good
steward though is the next generation. Furthermore, sustainability research by its very nature builds
Interdisciplinary teams that are finding creative ways to utilize and preserve our natural resources
while developing an informed citizenry and creating solid economies that ultimately lead to sustainable communities.

Nicholas Olsen (Fall 2017)

Nick Olsen, student intern, tabling in Kirby Student Center for UMD Sustainability

Position: Sustainability Intern - Waste Reduction and Recycling

Description: I worked to reduce waste through raising awareness for students, staff, and faculty on campus.  I led behavior change campaigns to reduce, reuse, and recycle materials properly, both on campus and in the community. 

Linda Peterson

Postion: Sustainability Intern - Carbon Accounting

Description: I worked to update the UMD greenhouse gas inventory for 2016, collecting Scope 1 (direct emissions), Scope 2 (purchased energy), and Scope 3 (commuting, landfill waste, air travel, etc.) data, to account for carbon emissions due to the existence of UMD.

Brinda Dewan

brinda dewan

Bio: Brinda Dewan is a Graduate student at the Environmental Education Program at UMD. She is an International student from Nepal and loves to explore the outdoors in her free time. She is passionate about helping young children get engaged in environmentally friendly practices and getting close to nature.

Why sustainability is important: Sustainability is important to me, because it is time that we started taking care of our planet before it is too late. As a very famous saying says “We Do Not Inherit the Earth from Our Ancestors; We Borrow It from Our Children”

Project: My role as a member of the UMD Sustainability Office is to plan education and outreach events and campaigns. I also design learning outcomes and educational lessons to engage students both on-campus and in the community around sustainability issues.

Cassandra Ortberg

cassandra Ortberg

Bio: Cassandra is a Junior at UMD and loves loves cooking, country music, traveling to new places and almost any outdoor activities. Duluth has been one of Cassie’s favorite cities since she was a little girl and she is thrilled to be learning more about sustainability in such a beautiful and unique area. She has always been passionate about sustainability and has specific interests in renewable energy.

Why sustainability is important to me:  We live on a beautiful planet that has provided us with the resources necessary for life. In return, it is our job not to abuse that gift and to work constructively with the Earth to maintain our delicate ecosystem and the health of both our planet and its people.

What I do: Assist in planning and creating educational materials and events for the UMD campus, specializing in energy progress and issues.

Austin Paul

austin paulProfessional title: Sustainability Waste and Recycling Assistant

Bio: I am a senior at UMD majoring in Public Health Education and Promotion with a minor in Environment and Sustainability. I like to spend my free time outdoors whether it be taking a hike up the North Shore, playing sports with friends, or snowboarding at spirit mountain. When i’m not outdoors you can find me spending my free time cooking, watching sports, hanging out with friends or my cat Nemo. 

Why sustainability is important: Sustainability is important to me because with population on the rise our planet can no longer keep up with our current demand for coal, oil, and natural gas. We must all transition to a more sustainable lifestyle to save our planet that has given so much to us. I believe that such a transition would also increase the health and happiness of individuals throughout the world.

What I do: Assist in planning and creating educational and outreach programs dealing with waste reduction.

Corey Pletsch

corey pletschPosition: Student Researcher; Sustainability Outreach Specialist at the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI)

Background: Corey grew up in Minnetonka, MN. Frequent visits to the north shore and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area resulted in his love for the environment and for the city of Duluth. Witnessing the interactions between the environment and people led him to study Environment Sustainability and Geography. Understanding why someone wants to protect or use the environment is just as important as actually protecting that area. Interactions between every animal or organism must be taken into account before there can be long-term positive implications on our planet.

Why sustainability is important: Sustainability requires a diversified thought process. A problem is caused by more than one reason, and can be solved by combining different solution. There are many problems resulting from the human race’s ability to put one individual’s goals above everyone else. Learning to work together in order to sustain our resources for future generations is the backbone of sustainability. The ability to work alongside, instead of trying to control, nature and our environment is also important. The economical, social, political and environmental issues are all intertwined with one another and all factors must be focused on equally.

What I do: Currently conducting research on waste management, sustainability outreach and recycling habits at NRRI. This includes making the recycling program as efficient as possible, communicating with employees on any issues or ideas they have, and measuring the changes in waste output of in the building. One of the main goals is to show people how little changes in their daily habits can have massive positive effects on the environment and the surrounding communities. Another goal is to create an efficient work plan for the building that will be continually used by future students/staff. Finally, the most significant goal of mine is to show individuals the importance of using less and reducing their production of waste.

Makenzie Lamphere

mackenzie lamphere

Professional title: Sustainability Assistant

Bio: My name Is Makenzie Lamphere and I am a senior at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Some of my interest are exploring new places, thinking of new creative ideas, cooking, and hanging with friends. I also have a huge heart for animals and keeping the environment clean and safe.

Why sustainability is important to me: Over the past couple years, I have grown a passion for taking care of the environment along with showing others how easy it can be. I have always been interested in air pollution and climate change as it affects both the environment and human health. My goal is to help spread to others the importance of keeping this environment clean and safe to make it better each and every day.

What I do: Assist in planning and creating educational outreach programs and events on UMD campus dealing with waste reduction.

Kasey Smith

kasey smith

Professional title

Sustainability and Waste Management Intern


Background: I am a senior in Public Health Education and Promotion here at UMD. Some of my favorite things are traveling, being outside, working out, and being with friends. I am from a small town called Faribault, but will be living in the cities after I graduate this spring. My favorite food is a banana and my favorite drink is green tea.

Why sustainability is important to me: Sustainability is important to me because it provides us with everyday needs. If our world keeps using and consuming without being mindful, our children and generations after that will suffer from severely polluted air, scarce water supply and more. If we can make one change at a time and educate individuals and communities to come together and make a difference I think we can help reduce and prevent future sustainability issues. One of my favorite quotes from Ghandi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

What I do: Planning and coordinating programs dealing with waste reduction on UMD campus.

Alexis Weaver

alexis weaverPosition: Sustainability Waste Reduction Assistant

Major: Anthropology (Environment and Sustainability minor)


Background: I’m a senior at UMD and in the past 3 years I have been doing various projects around UMD and Duluth promoting sustainability. I have a passion for food systems especially, and recently worked alongside the Fair Food Access Campaign in promoting better access to fresh food in low income neighborhoods. I plan on continuing this work in the years to come by joining the Peace Corps to combat food insecurity in other countries. In my free time I love to cook (and eat), do yoga, go outside, and travel.

Why I care about sustainability: My passion for sustainability started with me going vegetarian almost 8 years ago. Over the years, that passion has blossomed and transformed many aspects of my life. I live and breath sustainability because I believe it is my, and everyone else’s, responsibility to make environmental choices. Contemplating environmental sustainability raises the question of what it means to be alive. If we don’t care about our planet, our home, then what do we care about? If you look out at the mountains or Lake Superior or a quiet forest and feel a connection to something bigger than yourself then you believe in sustainability. My goal is to bring awareness to that connection.

What I do: My goal is to lead waste reduction, recycling, and composting awareness campaigns. I focus on waste reduction outreach to encourage students, faculty/staff, and campus visitors to reuse, reduce, and recycle.

Adam Dingmann


Position: Sustainability Intern

Major: Public Health Education and Promotion 

Background: I grew up in a small town called Cold Spring, MN where most of my free time was spent outdoors. Some things that I enjoyed doing outside would be hunting, fishing, and playing sports with friends. Through this time spent outdoors I developed a love for out nature and habitat that only grew in my time spent in Duluth.

Why sustainability is important: There is so much that could be said with this answer it is hard to know where to begin. With my degree in Public Health I have learned how amazing people can be when they align for a common cause. Sustainability is that common cause that not only our community, State, and Country need to align to solve, but our planet. It has to be a collective effort that everyone needs to be on board for in order to preserve our planet and I would like to be a part of it any way that I can.

What I do: Through my internship with the Office of Sustainability here at UMD I have done a couple of different things. Mainly another classmate and I have worked on obtaining the information necessary to obtain a bike friendly campus designation from the League of American Bicyclist. This has been especially rewarding because of all of the support that we have received in our efforts. We have also worked to create an event that shows the documentary “Before the Flood”. This documentary talks about many aspects of climate change and what we can do as humans to prevent our planet from altering any more than it already has.

Hannah Smith


Position:  Climate Change Outreach Intern (Spring 2016)

Major: Environment and Sustainability

Project:  I led an effort to host a public input session at UMD about the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s prep work on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan rule.  I also hosted climate change outreach events, and fostered partnerships between UMD Sustainability and Environmental programs at Fon du Lac Tribal and Community College.

Janelle Kloth

Sustainability Intern Picture

Position: Sustainability Communications Assistant

Janelle Kloth is a UMD Senior, majoring in Communications and minoring in Spanish. She grew up in Chanhassen, Minnesota but has lived in both Illinois and Wisconsin. When not working on school or in the UMD Office of Sustainability, she can be found playing basketball, attending theater, enjoying winter, reading, hanging out with friends and family, and all things Harry Potter.

Why sustainability is important: I am very excited to take on this role as the sustainability intern! I have always been keen on going green, conserving, reusing, and promoting a healthy earth. I believe I will learn a lot and in return be able to leave my mark within sustainability here at UMD!

Responsibilities: My job is to create and communicate UMD Office of Sustainability events.  I am a point person for sustainability tabling, postering, and planning a wide range of events on campus.  I also contribute to the UMD Sustainability website and social media platforms.

Shannon Murphy

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Project: I am working on my LiNCS (Learning initiatives Needing Community Settings) project through the UMD Sustainability office. As a member of the UMD Sustainability office I will be promoting and pla0ingn events for Water Week 2016. Overall my project will raise awareness on the importance of water here on the UMD campus.

Background: Shannon is a Senior at UMD. She loves spending time outdoors, especially in the winter due to her love for snowboarding. She also enjoys cooking, painting/drawing, and spending time with her cat Lulu. Her passion is teaching others to live a healthy, happy, and fulfilling lifestyle.

Why sustainability is important: Sustainability is important to me because if we continue to live wastefully instead of resourcefully our future generations will suffer the consequences. Our planet is beautiful, let’s keep it that way!

Kyra Harty


Project: Through LiNCS (Learning initiatives Needing Community Settings) I am working with the Office of Sustainability. I will be designing a campaign to raise awareness of freshwater threats. Lake Superior is Duluth’s home!  Many students and staff take our ‘big drink o’ water’ for granted and neglect water quality issues globally, in the United States, and improvements locally. Our aim is to celebrate Mother Superior and raise awareness of issues dealing with water.

Background: Kyra, a Senior studying Public Health and Art, enjoys: camping, trail running and nearly anything outdoor related. She is excited about promoting and advocating for sustainable practices, urban planning, social justice, and other outdoor activities.

Why sustainability is important:  Letting people better understand that we share this space called Earth, is vital for Kyra. Protecting human roots and instilling a sense of being is found in nature. The world is in flux with many social and environmental factors in play. It is our job to improve the living quality for all and it starts with sustainability.

Abel Meseret


Position: Sustainable Development Research Opportunity Project (SDROP)

Major: Accounting

Minor: Environment and Sustainability

Background: Abel is currently a Junior at UMD, and working on his SDROP project. Abel is a graduate of Apple Valley High School and the School of Environmental Studies (SES, located next to the Minnesota Zoo). Attending SES was where Abel first learned about Environmental Sustainability and its importance. Abel’s goal is to graduate with an accounting degree and work at an environmental firm.

Project: Abel’s SDROP project is to create a non-financial report based on UMD’s sustainability data found on via STARS. Research will be conducted through the website STARS and will show how other universities are trying to be more sustainable. This report will help prioritize UMD’s sustainability efforts and can be compared to other educational institutions. This report will help determine if UMD is on the right track towards being more sustainable, and provide recommendations for future non-financial accounting measures.

Nikki Velch (Fall 2015)

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Position: Sustainability Intern – Environmental Health

Major: Public Health Education and Promotion

Background: Nikki Velch is a Senior at UMD who grew up in Loretto, MN, a small town 30 minutes West of the Twin Cities. When not working on school, she loves to go on nature hikes, cook, and practice yoga. Her passion is to motivate others to live a healthy life, conserve, and reuse resources.

Why sustainability is important: Sustainability is important to me, because we only have one place to live and we are running out of resources.

Project: My project as a member of the UMD Sustainability Office is to plan the Sustainability Fair! I am very excited to bring the Duluth community together to empower people to be a part of making a positive change for this world.

Carl Berwald

Carl Berwald

Position: Student Sustainability Assistant

Majors: Political Science and German

Projects: Creating content such as web pages, blog posts, signs and anything else to help spread the word about sustainability at UMD. Specializing in public relations, outreach, and energy and transportation issues.

Why sustainability is important: Sustainability is important because we only have one earth, and we have over 7bn people. We only get one earth and we need to be able to effectively use and allocate its resources but not deplete them. Climate change is one of the most challenging and immediate problems we face as a planet, and we need to work together in order to mitigate our environmental damages and reverse ones we have already made.

Eleva Potter


Position: Master’s of Environmental Education, Sustainability Assistant at NRRI

Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI)

5013 Miller Trunk Highway

Duluth MN, 55811

Graduate Work: I worked on a collaboration between the Sustainability Office, Marshall School and the Master’s of Environmental Education program.  My graduate research was around sustainability education at Environmental Learning Centers.

Where is she now?  Eleva accepted a Teaching Fellow position at Conserve School in Fall of 2015.

Matt Detjen

Use this one

I worked on a project that studied lighting improvements in the stairwells and hallways at NRRI. This involved moving towards more energy efficient LED lights, as well as installing motion sensors. The lights we are currently planning on switching to LED bulbs are left on both day and night, so these “ low hanging fruit” projects will provided the greatest energy savings for the institute. The project would be funded through the universities’ Revolving Green Fund, which supplies money for sustainability related projects.

Hannah Farmer


Position: Graphic Designer

245 Kirby Plaza, Student Life Offices

+1 (218) 726-6391

Majors: Graphic Design and Marketing

Favorite thing about working in the Sustainability Office:  My favorite thing about working in the Sustainability Office was being able to help shine a light on all the sustainable movements our office has introduced to UMD. Not only did I get to think creatively on a day-to-day basis, I also got the privilege to learn something new everyday. Oh, and my coworkers were pretty awesome as well.

Why sustainability is important: Sustainability is important because the little efforts we do now can create a huge impact in the future. Many people don’t realize how easy it is to be sustainable, and I think it’s important that we educate people on the little things that they can do everyday to help facilitate a greener lifestyle.

Responsibilities: I created graphics for virtually anything and everything related to the Sustainability Office, including: posters for events, digital signage for TV displays, brochures promoting the office, motion graphics, and much more!

Where is she now?  Hannah is working in Sales & Marketing for Toyota in southern California.

Chelsea Cansino

Puppy love

Position: Social Media

245 Kirby Plaza, Student Life Offices

+1 (218) 726-6391

Majors: Communications and Business

Favorite thing about working in the Sustainability Office: My favorite thing about working in the Sustainability office is becoming more educated on sustainability. Everyday I am inspired to become more sustainable for the best interest of the community and the environment.

Why is sustainability important: Sustainability is important because it affects the world that we live in. We have to be mindful of our decisions, it directly affects the environment in numerous ways. Being sustainable improves the environment and improves the amount of expenses we have.

Responsibilities: My job entails creating press releases, managing the website, creating blogs about sustainability, and promoting the Office of Sustainability via a variety of social media outlets.

Where is she now?  Chelsea started her career in New York City, with a communications and marketing internship in 2015.

Kate Strassman


Position: Events and Outreach Assistant

Major: Environment and Sustainability

Minor: Psychology

Responsibilities: Sustainability education and outreach initiatives.

Favorite thing about working in the Sustainability Office: Being able to connect with students, faculty, and community members alike to further UMD’s efforts in reducing our environmental impact. This opportunity has allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges we face in solving some of today’s most pressing environmental issues. Through campus and community outreach I hope to instill a stronger connection and awareness for sustainability among the student body.  I’m enjoying the work being done at the Office of Sustainability and with my optimistic and inspirational team by my side I know UMD will be left in a better place than I had found it.

Why sustainability is important: Sustainability is important because all the choices we pursue and all the actions that we make today will affect our future. In essence, sustainability is the ability to be sustained or to endure, therefore in order to sustain our beautiful planet we need to make sound decisions at present in order to avoid limiting the choices of generations to come.

Where is she now?  Kate is an Event Specialist at Camargo Events, in Cincinnati, OH.

Dan Onken

Handsome Dan

Position: Social Media Assistant

Major: Environment and Sustainability

Minor: Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Responsibilities: I manage and operate the Office’s Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr accounts. I also blog about all things sustainability, mainly focusing on campus and local issues and events.

Favorite thing about working in the Sustainability Office: Getting the chance to share and utilize the knowledge I have learned from my time at UMD has shown me just how useful and important sustainability really is. Being able to work within an office that oversees so many unique initiatives makes me feel a strong connection to my work and allows me to focus on applying sustainability to grander objectives outside the classroom. It also helps that I get to work with some really driven and creative people that truly exemplify teamwork.

Why sustainability is important: Understanding how our environment has been taken advantage of without regard for others has made me very passionate about its protection. I also am concerned about the many people lacking the resources and infrastructure to protect their communities from pollution. This has made me a very strong advocate for environmental justice. Realizing how sustainability fits into human and environmental health is the first step in addressing these challenges.

Where is he now?  Dan is an Account Coordinator at Pep Promotions, in Denver, CO.

Brian Bluhm



Position: Sustainability Assistant

M.Ed. Environmental Education Candidate

Responsibilities: Coordinate sustainability education and outreach initiatives.

Favorite thing about working in the Sustainability Office: Working in the Office of Sustainability provides me with the opportunity to develop my knowledge and abilities while also helping to solve some of the most profound challenges facing humanity. The university is a place where people come together to expand their knowledge and understanding of the world. I am excited to be working with passionate people to promote sustainability in such a dynamic place as UMD while also empowering students to lead more balanced lives.

Why sustainability is important: The focus on interrelationships between economics, society and environment is what makes sustainability such an important and timely topic. By learning to live in ways that promote the well-being of our economies, our people and our planet, we can ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the same (or better) quality of life that current generations enjoy!

Where is he now?  Brian he has worked at Ecolibrium3 in Duluth, on energy and community sustainability issues, and is currently working on sustainability efforts on the Iron Range.  He is employed by the Iron Range Partnership for Sustainability (IRPS), a non-profit organization facilitating collaboration towards a sustainable and thriving Iron Range.  Brian also works for the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA) coordinating efforts to make local food more accessible and affordable for people who experience food insecurity.  In addition, Brian serves on the northeast MN Regional Sustainable Development Partnership’s Food Working Group.


Natalie Brown


Position: Sustainability Energy Outreach Assistant

Major: Environmental Studies

Minor: Geographic Information Science, Spanish

Favorite thing about working in the Sustainability Office: I enjoy working at  the Sustainability Office because I know that I’m actually doing something to  make a change at UMD and locally. It is excellent to have the opportunity to  work with amazing, inspired people. Being able to interact with the UMD  community in its efforts to become more sustainable gives me a positive  outlook for the future of Duluth and the rest of the world.

Why sustainability is important: Many reasons there are so many pressing global issues, such as economic downturns in once-thriving nations, poverty, and hunger, are due largely in part to ecological deterioration. Being sustainable means happily living within one’s own means. It is not necessary to buy, buy, buy in order to be satisfied, and right now is a turning point in society to realize this. I’m excited to be part of such a revolution!

Responsibilities: Outreach efforts, such as posters, e-mails, displays, and promotional events to further engage the campus community.

Where is she now?  Natalie works as a Program Coordinator at the non-profit organization Minnesota Brownfields. She also served for a year in the Minnesota GreenCorps program in Rochester, MN working on planning and promotion of sustainable transportation options.

Nate Levendoski


Position: Communications Assistant

Majors: Biochemistry and Writing Studies

Responsibilities:  Outreach and communications, including blogging, graphic design, and website management.  As part of his efforts, Nate presented at a national conference on “Developing an effective sustainability communications program without breaking your budget“, Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, 2011, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Why sustainability is important: To Nate, sustainability is about acknowledging that everyone is a part of something greater than themselves, whether it’s the UMD campus, Duluth, or the world in its entirety.  He believes that these larger systems deserve our stewardship and strives have an impact on making UMD an even greater, more sustainable campus.

Where is he now?  Nate is a science writer for a pharmaceutical research company in Wisconsin.

Cody Lund (Spring 2015)


Major: Public Health Education and Promotion

Project: Increase positive recycling behaviors within UMD’s on-campus Residence Halls, by developing a program that focuses on awareness and effective communication.

Where is he now?   Cody began working as an Environmental Health Specialist for Mason County Public Health, starting in August 2015, in Shelton, WA.

Addy Scrimgeour (Spring 2015 and Fall 2014)


Major: Community Health Education Major, Psychology Minor

Project:  Recycling behaviors in UMD Housing Residence Halls, improving Food Court composting/recycling signage, and other education/programs (World Water Week, Earth Hour, etc.)

Where is she now?  Addy is working in Duluth and planning to apply for an Occupational Therapy graduate program.

Xueming Ba (Spring 2015)


Major: Environment and Sustainability

Project: Research and write-up campus energy stories, improve and create new energy communication strategies

Anna Norcutt-Preuss (Fall 2014)

Major:  International Studies and Communications major

Internship Project:  I am working on calculating commuting carbon emissions for students and faculty/staff of UMD!


Abby Lattu (Fall 2014)

Major:  Public Health Education and Promotion Major

Project:  Recycling behaviors in UMD Housing Residence Halls:  create materials and awareness activities to promote recycling with a focus in the dorms and also help with campus-wide awareness.

Philip Galloway  (Summer 2014)

Major: Environmental Engineering

Project:  Stormwater research and outreach for Ianni Hall and Civil Engineering buildings

Megan Marren (2013)IMG_0009-001

Major: Environment and Sustainability

Internship Project: Produce, film, and edit the “UMD Bike to Campus Program” video.

Ashley Ellefson (2013)

Major: Graphic Design – SFA

Internship/Project:  UMD Sustainability re-branding project, and first annual World Water Week.

Joel Welinksi


Position: Energy Engineering Assistant

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Minors: Energy Engineering and Math

Responsibilities: My job is to relate how we are being sustainable and efficient, from an engineering standpoint, to the people it affects on campus and in our community.

Favorite thing about working in the Sustainability Office: There are a lot of things that happen behind the scenes at larger colleges such as our own.  My job is to help the students, staff and community become more aware of what we can do from an engineering standpoint, to better where we live.  While there are a lot of physical systems working to make this school a healthy place, we are all also a part of what the University is.  All of us can make choices to live healthier and conscious lives and we can start right here at UMD.  Working here allows me to help the University as a whole to become a better understood and more efficient system.

Why sustainability is important: Sustainability is important because in order to be successful we must first become aware of what we can do to better our lives. Not only for the current generations, but for all of our future descendants. If we are to survive as a race we need to be very aware of how we affect our surroundings and what we can do to minimize our impact on the world.

Andrew Leider

Position: Sustainability GIS Intern

Major: Environmental Studies

Internship Project:  Creating a GIS-based sustainability layer on the UMD Campus Map that identifies key sustainability features and descriptions.

Judy Breuer


Position: Sustainability Intern/LiNCS Researcher

Major: Health Education with Community Concentration

Minors: Environmental Studies and Sustainability, Philosophy, and Psychology

Favorite thing about working in the Sustainability Office: Because this was a small 40 hour senior project, I had freedom to explore projects already in motion or bring in my own ideas. There were so many options I would have enjoyed taking on. I finally decided to consider water, bottled water and the need for water bottle filling stations in the dorms and around campus. I talked to and surveyed students about their daily water intake. I also discovered student concerns regarding access to drinking water when living in the dorms. As much as I loved my project itself, I very much enjoyed brainstorming ideas and digging into the possibilities of next steps. My intention is to continue working on these issues in some capacity while I’m at UMD. The need doesn’t end when the senior project is over. Thank you for the opportunity.

Why sustainability is important: Sustainability is important because this world, though amazing at providing us a place to live, is being taxed by our fast paced and amazing progress. The consequences of our actions as people, businesses and institutions are important to consider. We benefit by learning how we might lighten the load in what ever way we can. This is undoubtedly a complex balancing act. Sustainability is a huge interwoven and connected subject. When you look at one topic there are five other considerations that pop out that we need to consider. This shouldn’t discourage us but excite us in the discovery of how we can rise to the challenge of finding even small actions allowing us to continue appreciating all the wonderful things we are able to utilize and benefit from.

Where is she now?  Judy bought a farm, Foolish Raven Farms, and is happily learning the ropes on growing local food!

Sam Domeier

Arapahoe BasinPosition: Minnesota GreenCorps Energy Conservation Member (2011)

Read more about Sam in this 2015 feature from UMD Bridge Magazine

Responsibilities: Researching, creating, implementing, and coordinating energy conservation and education programs on campus, conducting public relations outreach through advertisements, press releases, brochures, and presentations, and administering energy assessments for campus students, staff, and faculty members.

Favorite thing about working in the Sustainability Office: The Office of Sustainability is committed to integrating sustainability into all aspects of campus life, and that is why I am so excited to be a part of this office. I am also gaining valuable experience in the field of energy conservation, and this will greatly help me as I look forward to finding a career. UMD has signed onto the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and agreed to work to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions over time, eventually reaching climate neutrality, and it is great to know that the Sustainability Office and the UMD campus are so committed to sustainability and the future of our environment.

Why they believe sustainability is important: Sustainability issues are some of the most important issues facing our world today, and without a willingness to change our way of thinking concerning the environment, we may be putting ourselves and future generations in harm’s way. Practicing sustainability is the only way that we will be able to continue enjoying our natural environment for years to come. Individual behaviors, attitudes, and choices are vital components in the reduction of our energy use and carbon output, and if we each take small actions every day, the results will add up.

Where is he now?  Sam worked as a Product Portfolio Manager with Xcel Energy in Denver, Colorado; managing multiple energy efficiency marketing programs for Xcel Energy’s business customers. He is currently an Environmental Sustainability Specialist for the non-profit Mercy House.

anneAnne Rittgers

Read more about Anne in this feature from the 2015 UMD Bridge Magazine

2010 UMD Student Employee of the Year

Position: Sustainability Assistant

Major: Economics

Minor: Environmental Studies

Responsibilities: Tracking, interpreting, and reporting raw operations and research data on greenhouse gas emissions, transportation trends, recycling, stormwater management, and more; designing and preparing sustainability communications (posters, presentations, displays, brochures) to the campus and community; and helping plan and promote various sustainability events, including the bi-annual Sustainability Fairs.

Favorite thing about working in the Sustainability Office: Gaining valuable career experience working with a large variety of people on a large variety of projects to benefit the campus community; working daily to expand the definition of sustainability for myself and for campus; and working with knowledgeable, passionate people like Mindy.

Why they believe sustainability is important: Sustainability is important because, in the words of Albert Einstein, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” We are faced with heavy-hitting global issues that our generation is going to be forced to deal with- energy, water, food, etc. crises. The best way to overcome these challenges is to take a sustainability-based approach, considering economic, environmental, and social factors, in order to overcome these issues and provide future generations with a better quality of life on a healthy planet.

Where is she now?  Anne served as a Program Coordinator with GeoFORCE Alaska, a geoscience education outreach program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She managed the program budget, recruits students from eight villages across Alaska’s North Slope, developed relationships with program donors in the oil and gas industry, createed outreach materials, and led 10-day academy trips across Alaska and the Lower 48. She completed a Master's in Arctic and Northern Studies and works and resides in Fairbanks, AK.

Hannah Bauer (formerly Hannah Schoof)


Position: Health Education Intern

Description: Hannah focused on an energy and greenhouse gas emission awareness program.  She also developed the UMD Energy Pledge to gain commitments from students on saving energy and other resources.

Major: Health Education – Community Health

Minor: Psychology; Foreign Studies

Favorite thing about working in the Sustainability Office: The enthusiasm that Mindy has for her work.

Why I believe sustainability if important: Because we live on such an amazing planet, I believe it is important to reduce waste and use our resources wisely in order to keep our earth beautiful for as long as possible.

Where is she now?  Hannah is living in Ninilchik, Alaska with her family, and is currently at home full-time with two small children.

Nicholas Benz

Position: STARS Intern

Major: Environmental Studies

Project: I collected data for the Sustainability Tracking and Assessment Reporting Tool. This involved many hours of data collection including interviewing department directors and many hours of online research.

Why I believe sustainability if important: It is the way the world will continue to thrive. The best part is that sustainability doesn’t have to been really complex to see effects. By simply turning off lights and computers at the end of the day we save large amounts of energy. The other cool part is that sustainability can be very complex and thought provoking. There are always new ways to increase sustainability and improve the current system.

Ali Naqvi

Position: Engineering Assistant

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Minor: Math

Favorite thing about working in the Sustainability Office: The fact that this is not just another job that will pay my bills and then it is history. The things I am learning through this office go way beyond the paycheck. It is redefining my lifestyle.

Why I believe sustainability is important: I think waste is nasty. Using up more resources than an individual, a firm, a city or a country needs leaves less for the others and cost of living goes up ultimately affecting everyone. Sustainable resources help offset this damage.

Responsibilities: My duties include researching on sustainable alternatives and practices and to spread awareness regarding the same through writing.

Where is he now? Ali’s education at UMD and work in sustainability helped him find a job as an engineer for a company that makes heating, ventilation, and cooling equipment.  It meets his strong interest in HVAC, and making systems work most efficiently.

Jimmy Peterson

James (on right)

Position: Sustainability Assessment Intern

Description: Jimmy gathered data for Sustainability Tracking and Assessment Reporting at UMD.

Major: Environmental Studies, Focus on Environmental Science and Economics

Favorite thing about working with Sustainability Office: Gaining a better   understanding about current projects being done to make a more sustainable campus. Connecting with campus facilities and finding collaborative ways to address current sustainability issues at UMD. Working with the Sustainability Office was an amazing experience and has helped me onto my path of working towards a sustainable future.

Why Sustainability is Important: We are all part a part of our environment and every citizen is a steward. As a society we have lost our ability to listen to what the earth is telling us, whether it is something small like wild flowers blooming in a healthy forest or being able to eat fish from our lakes and rivers. With many ecosystems reaching a tipping point, it is imperative to work towards a more sustainable culture so that our children and our childrens children will be able to experience the natural wonders of the world, instead of just hearing about them in the past tense.

Where is he now? I currently work with the Watershed Stewards Project, which is a program of AmeriCorps. I am stationed at the Mid Klamath Watershed Council, a non-profit in the Klamath Mountains of Northern California. I work predominantly in watershed restoration of salmon bearing rivers and streams. During the winter I teach watershed education to local school children, grades K-8th. I spend much of my time in the field collecting data and implementing restoration projects designed by my placement site. A few examples of my work are salmon spawner surveys, off channel habitat enhancement, invasive weed control/riparian restoration, counseling for environmental education camps and creek mouth enhancement. I am very passionate about my work and have fallen in love with the sound of salmon swimming upstream. I plan on following the fish and work towards a career in fisheries biology and watershed restoration.

Evan Engman

Position: Environmental Studies Intern

Major: Environmental Studies

Project Description: Conducting a fume hood energy use study, to look for safety (ventilation effectiveness) and energy-conservation opportunities at laboratories at UMD.

Where is he now? Evan works as an Industrial Hygienist at Newport News Shipbuilding, in Newport News, Virginia.

Stacy Gerths


Position: Sustainability Development Opportunity Research Project  Intern

Major: Economics

Description: Stacy led the effort to establish the UMD Green Revolving Fund.

Where is she now?  Stacy is a planner for Sierra Club Trading Post.

David Rosen

Position: Transportation Intern

Project Description: David worked on the early phase of developing a bike-friendly UMD.  His coordination, planning, and efforts were presented in a poster at the AASHE 2010 conference in Denver, CO.  David also arranged a bike repair station at the UMD Market Day in the Plaza and presented on Bicycle Safety at multiple sustainability events.

Major: Economics

Minor: Environmental Studies

Carly Haas

Position: Health Information intern

Project Description: Carly surveyed motivations and behaviors of people who ride the elevator vs. take the stairs.  She compiled her research to inform a “ Take the Stairs” campaign using the results, to help conserve energy at UMD and encourage healthy habits.

Major: Community Health Education


Bryanna Raiche

Position: Documentary Filmmaker (July  2009 – August 2010)

Major: Anthropology

Project Description: Creating a  documentary film about the construction of the Bagley Outdoor Classroom.  Organized a project plan for a forty-minute documentary film about the construction of a new LEED Platinum building on the University of MN, Duluth campus. Independently developed ideas for film content and layout, contacted key experts for interviews, filmed building process, conducted and filmed interviews, edited all content using Final Cut Pro, and created a final product for university use.  (Contact to check out the 40 minute full-length film on DVD)

Update (June 2013):  Bryanna is soon finishing up two years of service in the Peace Corps, in Togo, Africa.  She continues to work on video production.

Former Staff

Bryan French

1-IMG_0675Position: Sustainability Programs Coordinator

Responsibilities: My duties included managing the Bike to Campus Program, teaching a section of Sustainability Seminar, and helping deliver various sustainability programming.

Why sustainability is important: I want my kids to be able to have the opportunity to experience as much of the wonder of our planet as I have been able to experience. I believe that everyone wants to live in a world that is beautiful and clean. Helping remind folks of this is a fun and engaging challenge.