Ben graduated with a B.S. in Sociology from the University of Oregon in June of 2017. He was both an honors student and a McNair Scholar. His honors thesis and McNair Scholars research focused on undocumented indigenous women migrating to the U.S. from Latin America. He grew up in Southern California and spent many years living Mexico. He speaks Spanish fluently and worked locally here in Eugene for many years at Centro Latino Americano, a social services agency for the Hispanic population. His research to date has helped articulate some of the strategies of survival deployed by indigenous women as both lifesaving mechanisms and forms of resistance while migrating through Latin America.
Currently, Ben chairs the Policy and Evaluation Committee (through the county health department) for youth substance abuse in Lane County and provides research based information to legislators, parents and youths. He is also the Cultural Development Chair at Buena Vista Spanish Immersion where he has created a cultural garden space that challenges traditional American ideologies of colonialism.
His interests include social justice, in particular indigenous and environmental justice. Ben is part Native American ( ¼ Seminole) and is interested in continuing research with indigenous communities, primarily the blending of indigenous knowledge (traditional forms of ecological knowledge) with current research based science. More specifically, he is interested in indigenous forms of farming, as well as indigenous forms of forest, soil and water management and how they can reshape the mainstream understanding of farming and ecosystem management. Ben believes that bringing this knowledge into the elementary classrooms will help legitimize indigenous knowledge and work towards decolonizing the minds of our children.
Ben is pursuing concurrent Masters degrees in both Environmental Studies and Sustainable Business Practices. He is the first Environmental Studies student to partner with the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business. He began researching social businesses and social enterprises in 2013 after he left a career in grocery management. Because social businesses can use their profits for a “greater good” in pursuit of their mission statement, he believes this is a better business model to operate within the capitalist framework for generating positive social impact as well as long term sustainability.
Ben is married and has three children. He has lived in Eugene for almost 20 years. Ben is vegan, as is most of his family and they own a small organic farm that focuses primarily on heirloom and landrace varieties and strains. He hopes to someday retire on a sanctuary farm that offers children, seniors and all people free weekly trips out to spend time with the animals and learn about indigenous forms of gardening.
Laura Johnson was born and raised in Lincoln, NE. Although the Midwest is not widely known for its wilderness opportunities, the open farm fields and streams near her home cultivated in Laura a love of the outdoors. Laura translated this love into her educational pursuits and moved to Eugene, Oregon in 2007 to pursue her B.S. in environmental science and biology from the University of Oregon. During her time at the U of O, Laura participated in the Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) as a member of the Stream Stewardship team. As part of the stream team Laura discovered her passion for field biology while learning in-stream survey methodologies and collecting field data.
After graduation Laura returned to Nebraska for one summer to satisfy her dream of being a camp counselor at the YMCA camp she grew up attending. Afterwards, she returned to Oregon and sought field biology experience in any capacity available: she completed volunteer work for the Long Tom Watershed Council’s cutthroat trout migration study, interned at the Friends of Buford Park and Mt. Pisgah’s native plant nursery, and collected snails in southern Oregon for the BLM and U.S. Forest Service.
Laura has worked for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) for the past two years in both the Rogue and Umpqua watersheds conducting stream surveys and monitoring both juvenile and adult salmonids. Working for the ODFW spurred Laura’s interest in learning about how ecological population models and GIS mapping are developed for use in land management. In graduate school Laura plans to explore these two research topics in addition to her interests in ecosystem ecology, ecological restoration, stream and wetland ecology, and natural resource management.
Kaelyn grew up in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area and in May 2016, graduated from Arizona State University’s Barrett, the Honors College. Studying Sustainability and Women & Gender Studies, Kaelyn also worked on a number of projects and held several positions in student organizations and departments.
Specifically, Kaelyn served as the Director of Sustainability for the Undergraduate Student Government – working on environmental education projects and campaigns. During her senior year, she coordinated a number of events, most notably the Climate Leadership Summit, sponsored by Defend Our Future.
Kaelyn also worked as a Sexual Wellness Peer educator, developing curricula and programming for Arizona State. Sexual violence prevention and comprehensive sexuality education, consequently, became focal points of Kaelyn’s undergraduate career. While working on advocacy campaigns, she became interested in the intersections of her two passions – environmentalism and gender.
Kaelyn’s undergraduate honors thesis, titled Hiking & Hegemony: Destabilizing the Nature/Culture and Gender Binaries through Outdoor Recreation, explored the ways in which binary oppositions serve to hinder progress for those seeking environmental and gender justice. It also explored the many parallels between the social constructions – gender and “the environment” – themselves.
When she’s not studying, Kaelyn enjoys backpacking, exploring, collecting vinyl records and political organizing. She has always been drawn to Eugene’s unique culture and will continue to explore the interconnectivity of gender and the environment while studying at the University of Oregon.
I grew up in Los Angeles and attended college in Portland, OR. After receiving a BA in Anthropology from Reed College, I worked in a variety of fields ranging from outdoor education to film production to paralegal work for the public defender. In continuing my academic work at the UO, I intend to incorporate multi-media techniques into my social studies research, in turn contributing to growing arenas in the digital humanities. I look forward to working across the physical and social sciences, asking questions related to water resource management practices and tracing the social and environmental impacts of urban growth. I am an avid skier, climber, and very much enjoy integrating the two in ascents/descents of the Pacific Northwest volcanoes.
I grew up in the suburbs of Beaverton and the forests of western Oregon amidst a patchwork of wetlands and housing developments, old growth forests and clear cuts. These were formative places of joy, connection, and controversy. I moved to Eugene in 2002 to attend the University of Oregon and complete a BA in Planning, Public Policy, and Management with minors in Spanish and Latin American Studies. After graduating I worked in community development and youth-related nonprofit organizations throughout Oregon.
In 2010 I became involved with a YMCA leadership camp for incoming high school freshman. At this camp and others I witnessed the power of story-telling to build empathy, trust, and connection, and the transformative experiences that young people can have when they are outdoors and in a supportive environment. To deepen my work as a youth program facilitator, in 2013 I completed an intensive course with Partners for Youth Empowerment (PYE) called The Heart of Facilitation. PYE’s emphasis on creativity for personal and social change has been very influential in my life and youth work.
For the past few years I worked with the Willamette National Forest and Northwest Youth Corps on youth and community engagement programs. It was during this time that I began to study environmental and institutional racism to better understand access and exclusion on public lands, and in outdoor education and recreation opportunities. I’m thrilled to be joining this program, and interested in youth outdoor programs, pacific northwest forest management, environmental justice, and questions around what it means to heal ourselves and our environments.
Krysta graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2013, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Philosophy, and a minor in Sociology. During her time as an undergraduate, she served as the student director of an environmental ethics outreach program for underserved youth. She was inspired by how enthusiastic and insightful young people were regarding philosophical questions. Thus she discovered an appreciation for environmental education with a primarily philosophical approach.
After graduating college, she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA in southwestern Colorado, collaborating with other creative minds in the community to develop a program through which youth learned about sustainable agriculture and food justice by growing food for rural, low-income communities. During this time she also had the pleasure of working as a volunteer naturalist, leading first graders on hikes at the local nature center. Both of these experiences affirmed in her a love of working with children.
For Krysta, the sunrises, orioles, snow-covered pastures, and mountains of Colorado’s Western Slope, the work of 19th century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, and the poetry of Mary Oliver (among many things) all contributed to a growing interest in the philosophical study of aesthetics and phenomenology, including and especially, environmental aesthetics and ecophenomenology. Just a few months into her year and a half working for St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance in northern Arizona, Krysta became fiercely interested in existentialism, but desired an existentialist philosophy that did not make any claim of human superiority to the natural world. She knew that it was officially time to formally explore these questions, and that is what she is doing while pursuing concurrent Masters degrees in Environmental Studies and Philosophy at the University of Oregon. She hopes to explore the possibility of an environmental education that is both arts-based and philosophical.
Krysta has spent most of her life in the arid Southwest, but, being from the Caribbean, prefers the climate of the Pacific Northwest. In her spare time, she can be found singing, listening to records, reading poetry, and learning about vintage fashion.
Growing up in a small remote town tucked away in the Siskiyou Mountains and nestled along the Klamath River in the heart of Karuk territory, I spent nearly all of my time outdoors as a kid—fishing, swimming, camping, you name it. With a population of just 200 and the nearest grocery store being a two hour drive away, I imagine visiting my slow-paced hometown would be like travelling back in time for some.
My tribe has lived there since time immemorial, and with such deeply rooted connections to my community and environment, I developed an early childhood appreciation for my natural surroundings. My passion for protecting and helping heal the world has lead me a wide range of interests in environmental health and community development. I landed at UC Berkeley as a first generation college student and my experience at Cal shaped my views on the challenges and limitations American Indian students face in higher education, I dedicated much of my time to making it a more attainable goal for youth from rural areas like that in which I grew up.
Upon graduating, I spent some time teaching at the small elementary school in my hometown and grew increasingly aware of how constraining early childhood education curricula can be to students whose cultural worldview doesn’t reflect those of the institutions that created them. In the summers, I would stay busy outdoors as a wildland firefighter for the Forest Service in an effort to expand my knowledge of federal land management practices and fire suppression tactics. Not so coincidentally, my research interests involve understanding the impacts of wildfires as they relate to the loss of traditional burning and other management practices; as well as why recognizing the importance of traditional ecological knowledge is critical for maintaining access to traditional diets and medicine.
In my free time you might catch me out taking advantage of the beautiful hiking and fishing spots around Eugene, or playing basketball at the rec center.
From a young age, I have always enjoyed adventuring in the outdoors. In early elementary school I was fortunate to have an inspiring science teacher who took every opportunity to engage students in the many mysteries of the natural world. During summers, I paddled the lakes and rivers of Ontario and northern Minnesota. As an undergraduate at Macalester College, I continued to gain an understanding of the natural world through coursework and research in Geology and Biology. My fascination with relationships between the biotic and abiotic, led me to study abroad in the rain forests and reefs of Queensland, Australia. From snorkel research on the Great Barrier Reef to organic farming in Vermont and Thailand, I have had the opportunity to explore the world through an always changing lens. These types of outdoor experiences inspired me to provide similar opportunities for kids. I spent the past four years teaching at The Ecology School in Saco, Maine, and at Sempervirens Outdoor School in Boulder Creek, California, helping children make connections to nature through hands-on, ecosystem based education.
It was through my work in Environmental Education that I discovered Permaculture, a landscape design theory that applies ecological knowledge to create thriving perennial food systems. The systems that humans rely upon for survival alter the physical and biological landscape, often leading to disastrous unintended ecological consequences. As I travel through cities, suburbs, and farmland, I find myself thinking about the quantity of misused and underutilized space. There is an opportunity to implement designs that increase resiliency of landscapes, require fewer fertilizers, and promote nutrient deposition and water infiltration. While Permaculture practices are unlikely to completely reshape our food economy, I believe that through community outreach programs we can turn urban landscapes into more productive, beautiful and functional ecosystems. Aside from my interests in Ecology and Landscape Architecture, I love spending my time making music, playing sports, biking, hiking, paddling, swimming, cooking vegetables, composting, and planting seeds.
As a kid visiting relatives in India, it was not uncommon to see children my own age walking the streets in tattered clothing, without shoes, asking for something to eat. As I grew older, I began to wonder why I had been given a family that loved me and bought me nice clothes and good food, yet another person just like me had been given so little. It was only when I delved into environmental science in my senior year of college that I realized these economic disparities translated into environmental disparities as well. While some have the benefit of plentiful resources, clean air and water, and the enjoyment of nature, others are relegated to the slums of cities or infertile farmland where they must struggle for survival.
However, learning about innovative solutions in sustainability such as aquaculture and green urban infrastructure is extremely heartening. There are many such creative ideas that could help ensure an equal distribution of resources for everyone. I also hope to intertwine a global perspective into my studies, as there are many people in the world who do not have voices that are speaking out for them. My main goal at UO is to learn how to write and analyze policy in order to promote these innovations while clearing away policies that are no longer effective.
When I’m not working, I enjoy kayaking, riding my bike, baking terribly inedible desserts, and reading. As an east-coaster relocating, I also hope to hike part of the PCT during my time out west.
I grew up in the town of Kearney which is located in south central Nebraska. After finishing high school, I attended Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa where I studied social work and Spanish. As I became involved with student groups and campus initiatives to reduce resource use and divert waste streams on campus, I grew increasingly concerned about the impacts humans were having on the natural environment. Toward the end of my undergraduate studies, I decided that I wanted to continue to work on both social and environmental issues in the future.
After graduating from Buena Vista, I worked for two years in Cedar Rapids, Iowa as the Education Coordinator with Green Iowa AmeriCorps – an AmeriCorps program whose mission is to make Iowans more energy efficient. As the Education Coordinator, I provided and organized energy and environmental education programs and events for various community groups. As a team of five members, we also performed home energy audits, low-impact home weatherizations, and participated in community outreach events. Additionally, our team worked with Matthew 25 (a local nonprofit and our team host site) to maintain an urban farm on the northwest side of the city, rehabilitate old and neglected homes, and run a tool library program. Furthermore, I was involved with BikeCR – a group of citizens and municipal employees helping the Cedar Rapids area to become more bicycle-friendly.
My research interests include: urbanism, bikeability and walkability, energy and efficiency, resource use and consumption, and social and environmental justice. In my free time I enjoy keeping up with current events, listening to podcasts, learning languages, and being active in the community.
Growing up in the suburbs of DC in Northern VA, I spent my time training in taekwondo, being active in my high school theater group and in the fall, banding hawks. All three of these activities, though very different, shaped my adolescence and instilled in me a sense curiosity about both culture and nature. This set me on my path to volunteer at an ecological park in Guatemala shortly after graduating high school. Here, I learned the importance of listening and engaging local communities to create more sustainable stewardship practices that are in service of both the people that rely on natural resources and wildlife that rely on intact habitat. This propelled me to study Biology at the University of Virginia and after graduating, I worked for a time at the Water Resource Department for Albemarle County where I supported stormwater BMP inspections, monitored groundwater and managed a grant encouraging private landowners to vegetate riparian buffers along perennial streams. Soon though, I grew restless and yearned to see something new. My natural tendency to take the scenic route, manifested itself into a seven year journey in the Ecuadorian Andes. I arrived as a Natural Resource Peace Corps volunteer working with rural communities in co-developing an integrated watershed management plan. Living in the Andes left me feeling both humbled and intrigued. I was humbled by the vastness of my surroundings and intrigued by the varied ecosystems tucked in every nook created by the irregular topography. So I stayed as a scientist and explored high altitude stream ecology and carbon flows and fluxes through an iconic Andean woodland. Through these experiences, I have seen a rift between the “wilderness” and “human” worlds, but this rift is construct; clearly there is only one world, one earth. My aim as a graduate student and beyond is to contribute to the development of more stable, sustainable and resilient socio-ecological systems. Given my training as a biologist, I am interested in the roles green space and green infrastructure play within urban environments and how we interact with and within these spaces. Specifically, I would like to explore how these spaces contribute to the biodiversity of the urban ecosystem, how citizen science can be a valuable way in which residents interact with these spaces and how policy can support the development of both. My experience developing environmental education programs and being a citizen scientist has exposed me to the role citizen science can play in not only fostering pro-environmental behaviors, but also in facilitating a much needed dialogue between citizens and scientists.
I come to the University of Oregon from Oakland, CA, where I worked as a crew leader for the Student Conservation Association. I led high school students in conservation work projects throughout the Bay Area, as well as in North Cascades and Yosemite National Parks. My academic interests center on what answer the humanities have for the question of how to live well in an age of environmental catastrophe. I am also interested in finding new ways to incorporate core humanistic values—empathy, the importance of community, thinking not limited to oneself—into environmental education curricula. I have a BA in English from the University of Michigan. In my spare time, I like to coach and play soccer.
I would like to think that I have always had some sort of environmental consciousness. As a child, this amounted to things like keeping my showers under five minutes and obsessively shutting off the lights as I left a room (which may have helped the earth somewhat but mostly seemed to result in me stubbing my toes as I rooted around in the dark for the hall light).
As a student at Macalester College, I chose to minor in Environmental Studies in favor of a German Studies major, due in equal parts to my love of the language and my desire to participate in the 6 month study abroad program offered by the department. Upon graduation, I became an English teaching assistant in Austria. I was placed at an agricultural secondary school in Wieselburg, a town so small that most Austrians have never even heard of it (although many are well acquainted with Wieselburger beer). The vast majority of my students had grown up on farms, and they were bitterly disappointed to learn that, despite hailing from Nebraska, I came from the city and did not own my own tractor.
In interacting with my students, who gave presentations on such topics as the many uses of sugar beets and the most viable way to slaughter a cow, I came to realize just how far removed I and so many others like me were from the process of my own food production. I could not name the country most of my food comes from, let alone the farmers themselves. This is something that I deeply wish to help change about our society. Now, exactly how I am going to do that is something I’m eager to discover during my time at the University of Oregon.