Maddie Hansen ('13)


Why did you choose environmental studies for your major?

Since elementary school I have always been involved with the environment, going to nature camps or being a recycling captain. In high school, I received a scholarship and raised money to spend one semester in the Bahamas at the Island School. The purpose of the school was to develop young leaders in sustainable development. While there I studied marine biology, became scuba-diving certified and worked with research scientists on an archeology project. It was a life-changing experience! I came back knowing that I wanted to make a difference, especially with climate change.

What has been your favorite environmental studies class and why?

My favorite course was Tropical Carbonate Ecology. I was able to return to the Bahamas and study the marine ecosystem of the Caribbean and do a research project. In addition, I went to Costa Rica for spring break where I conducted sea turtle research and studied rainforest ecology. However, I've loved all of the classes I've taken.

What is the best part about being an environmental studies major?

Having class outside! Everyone is jealous of environmental studies majors! We get to go canoeing during labs, visit power plants, garden, and work in the Arboretum.

Where did you complete your ENVS 397: Internship requirement?

I worked in the Twin Cities for two summers with Summer of Solutions, a by-youth, for-youth social entrepreneurship venture. I interviewed restaurant owners for the Latino Economic Development Center on reducing water and energy use. I was also involved in a community garden. This past summer I was a research fellow for Dr. Troy Knight, who specializes in dendrochronology. We went to Colorado for ten days and collected core samples from pinyon trees. We then analyzed the tree rings from these samples. The oldest living tree we found dated back to 1340! It was an awesome experience and I really enjoyed it.

All Environmental Studies majors conduct senior thesis research. What kind of research are you working on?

I am currently working on my senior thesis, which will be about winter greenhouses. About ten students including myself have been involved in getting permission, funding, and support to build a passive solar green house at Saint Ben's. We are just waiting on the building permit to be approved. It will be called the Full Circle Greenhouse.

What are your future plans and goals?

I am looking at attending graduate school, possibly Western Washington University or University of Miami for coastal ecology and sustainability.

 What advice do you have for future students?

Work to see how environmental studies can fit into your other areas of interest. If you are thinking about graduate school, check out requirements early enough to fit them into your schedule.