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Selected Stories from Sustainability Studies Alumni


Jenna Davis

I am now 21 months into my Peace Corps service in Zambia as a food security specialist. My work here is to promote conservation agriculture, agroforestry, and various income generating activities to community members where I live. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to gain experience in community-based environmental work and learn firsthand about the ways climate change, population growth and agricultural markets effect rural subsistence farmers in the developing world.
Climate change and population growth are tangible problems villagers experience and the consequent deforestation that occurs as people make charcoal and expand their fields and villages only compounds resource and sustainability issues.
It has been an incredible opportunity to gain a firsthand perspective of environmental issues and barriers to development on the ground, as experienced by rural farmers in the developing world. It certainly has opened my eyes even further to the complexities of environmental, social and economic sustainability on the global level. Amid all the struggles faced by community members their resiliency rests heavily upon their ability to depend upon one another in times of hardship. It’s a quality that I hope never fades from their culture and I feel holds a wealth of potential for successful and sustainable future development.

Chloe Bennett

Chloe recently graduated from the University of Florida with two B.A. degrees in Political Science and Sustainability Studies. During her time at UF Chloe volunteered with many groups and took classes outside her majors, trying to find the right career fit. When Marty Mesh, executive director of FOG, spoke in Dr. Thiele’s Facets of Sustainability class, Chloe began looking into organic agriculture as a career opportunity. She started volunteering at the UF Community Farm and was soon hooked. For her capstone course in the sustainability studies major, she interned with Florida Organic Growers, the very organization that inspired her plans for the future. Chloe was interning in the education and outreach department and FOG offered her a job after graduation. She started as an assistant summit coordinator helping plan an Organic Food & Farming Summit in September 2017. Chloe then applied for a crop certification reviewer position within Quality Certification Services, FOG’s accredited organic certifying agency and has held this position since the beginning of October. She plans on pursuing her masters in agroecology or a related field so she can spend her life helping increase the amount of organic agriculture and access to organic products worldwide. In her free time she can be found biking the Hawthorne Trail or eating good food with even better friends.

Justin Fisch

Justin graduated with a major in Sustainability Studies from UF in Spring 2012. His UF Sustainability education quickly paid off in law school, landing him a Associate Editorship with the McGill International Journal of Sustainable Development Law and Policy.  Justin currently teaches environmental law to budding conservationists at the University of Ottawa.  A lawyer by trade and outdoor adventurer by passion, Justin works in renewable energy and environmental law and in his spare time, makes his way to the Arctic and Antarctic regions as a naturalist and lecturer with Quark Expeditions. Justin is also completing a documentary titled Hello Ukkusiksalik, filmed in the remote and threatened arctic tundra of one of Canada’s newest parks, Ukkusiksalik National Park in Nunavut. The film explores the conservation efforts of Inuit peoples while simultaneously uncovering the opportunity the park has to safeguard Inuit traditions, connect youth to their culture and create sustainable tourism-based economic opportunities for the local community. Justin was recently chosen as one of Canada’s “Top 30 Under 30 in Sustainability,” a prestigious national recognition of Canada’s emerging leadership in sustainability-oriented change.

Nazmi Ahmed

Nazmi Ahmed graduated from UF in spring 2016 with a degree in Sustainability Studies and a minor in International Development and Humanitarian Assistance. During her time at UF for her undergraduate years, Nazmi was actively engaged with International Student Organizations (BSA, PSA, IOC, SJP, ASA), did community service with Project Downtown, was choreographer of Bangladeshi Classical Dance and All Female Dance Group Entropy, and was the Conservation Management intern at Conservation Trust for Florida. After graduating, Nazmi began graduate school in August 2016 studying Sustainable Development Practice at the University of Florida. She is now specializing in Water Resource Management to aid her in her practicum for summer 2017 in Bangladesh with the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development of Bangladesh Rural Action Committee (BRAC)..

Maria Martinez

Maria graduated from the University of Florida in Spring of 2014 with degrees in Political Science and Sustainability Studies. During her time at UF she was actively engaged with the College Democrats, the Office of Sustainability, and Gators Going Green where she planned the annual Student Sustainability Summit. She also worked with the County Commission, served as Sustainability Coordinator for the Young Entrepreneurs for Leadership & Sustainability (YELS) Program at UF and served as undergraduate Research Assistant for Dr. Thiele. Upon graduation, Maria moved to Washington D.C. and worked briefly for the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council before settling into  her current job with the International Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. She plans to attend graduate school in the coming years before heading back to her native Florida.

Jennifer Winter

Jennifer Winter graduated from UF in Spring 2013 with degrees in Sustainability Studies and Political Science. During her time at UF, Jennifer was a marketing and communications intern for We Are Neutral and was also involved with I.D.E.A.S. for UF, where she helped work on obtaining a green fee on campus. After graduating, she moved back to St. Petersburg and spent her summer interning with the Sierra Club on the Greenlight Pinellas campaign, which involved getting a mass transit system on the ballot. Currently, she is the first and only sustainability coordinator for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, and she is working on obtaining a grant that would supply the campus with  a 100-kilowatt system of solar power. Other projects include creating a sustainability website for the university and helping students with projects ranging from butterfly gardens to creating new clubs. In the future, she would like to go back to school to get a master’s degree and an LEED certification.

Loren Parra

Loren graduated from UF in December 2012, with a Dual Degree in Sustainability Studies and Political Science. Shortly after, she moved to Tallahassee, FL and was a full-time staff intern for Miami Representative Rodriguez, Deputy Whip to the Democratic Party, throughout the 2013 legislative session. She currently finds herself back in South Florida and is now working for The Everglades Foundation, a policy and science driven organization pioneering Everglades restoration. Loren is forever grateful to her Sustainability Studies degree, as it has helped her find her niche within the Florida political sphere. She is heavily involved in the Broward Young Democrats and Broward County Gator Club.

Natalie Lyons

imageNatalie became interested in Florida’s water issues while taking classes at UF for a minor in Sustainability Studies. During the capstone course she served as an intern for Florida’s Eden, a non-profit organization that recognizes water as the singular key environmental treasure of North Florida and its over 1000 natural springs. She credits that internship for the introduction that led to her being elected as an officer to the board of directors for Silver Springs Alliance, Inc. and the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, Inc. She is pursuing her M.A. in Leadership and Management, with an expected date of graduation in fall 2014.

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan Davis graduated from UF in 2012 with a BA in Sustainability Studies and a BS in Accounting. While at Florida, Jonathan interned with the consulting firm Carbon Solutions, serving as a research assistant to the Gainesville-based firm that specializes in carbon accounting and management. Prior to studying abroad in Argentina, Jonathan sat on the board of UF Hillel, served as an editor for the Fisher School of Accounting Newspaper, and participated in the United Way’s Alternative Spring Break. Jonathan is now a Fellow at Dasra, a strategic philanthropy NGO based in Mumbai, India. By combining rigorous research, organizational consulting and capacity building, and a more strategic approach to giving, Dasra serves to bridge the work of philanthropists and social entrepreneurs in order to create large scale social change. Jonathan is presently conducting research and analysis on non-profits throughout India and is creating case studies of the organizations that have been in Dasra’s portfolio for over a year, highlighting their achievements in India’s social sector. Jonathan is excited to fuse his degrees by building a career that fosters sustainable economic development, true corporate responsibility, and a global commitment to social justice.

Alice Stankovitch 

After studying English and Sustainability at the University of Florida, Alice Stankovitch has headed for Latin America, ready to make her impact on the world. A deep respect and appreciation for tropical ecosystems, combined with a desire to spread environmental awareness, has led her to team up with Kalu Yala, a company "set in a Panamanian rainforest valley where entrepreneurs and tropical cowboys are busy building the ultimate sustainable lifestyle." From trailblazing to crop rotation, from river clean-ups to classroom demonstrations, Alice has contributed to fostering sustainable communities that are not only environmentally and economically viable, but ethically and spiritually fulfilling as well.

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Sustainability Studies

Professor Thiele, Director        302 Anderson Hall
P.O. Box 117325
Gainesville, FL 32611-7325          352.273.2380