On Wednesday October 14th, 2015 a group of environmentalist speakers were kind enough to join my class for a question-answer discussion. The speakers were George Payne, Ryan Loysen, Kate Frazer, and Adam Maurer. All four had diverse environmentalist jobs in the (local) Rochester area. I learned that sustainability is a possibility in the near future. These activists are already making improvements to the local area by peaceful protests, maintaining the beauty of Monroe County parks, creating partnerships with top corporations in the area to help others, and exploring new forms of clean energy.
The first speaker was George Payne, a non-violence activist and the CEO and founder of Gandhi Earth Keepers International. His non-profit organization uses non-violent forms of protest to protect the rights of people in need and the environment. This organization essentially fights for the people and things that don’t have a voice. Last year around this time Payne organized a peaceful protest in a public park in Rochester, NY to demand fair and safe housing for “hard to place” homeless. At one point they faced 40 Rochester police officers before the Mayor called them off. Ultimately their non-violent effort brought to the surface some very important concerns from the City of Rochester. This act by George Payne and his organization shows that people can make a difference where ever they are from and do.
The second speaker was Ryan Loysen, who is a Recreation & Environmental Education Coordinator at Monroe County Parks Department. He works for the Monroe County Parks Department (Environmental Services). Loysen has a tremendous amount of knowledge about environmental issues and services that need to be provided and solved for a park system to run functionally.
Kate Frazer was the third speaker to join my class and she leads communications and marketing for The Nature Conservancy’s Central and Western New York Chapter, raising the organization’s visibility through earned media, events, digital and print products, marketing partnerships and social media. Prior to this role, she held positions including senior writer and associate director of marketing for the organization’s New England region. Kate is a passionate writer who also conducts storytelling and messaging workshops for teams across the Conservancy. Her most influential impact on an environmental issue was when Wegmans Food Markets and The Nature Conservancy decided to work together on an April 2014 recycling initiative in celebration of Earth Day. They set an aspiring goal to break last April’s record of 177,200 pounds of recycled plastic bags. This is the correspondent of about 11 million new bags. For every pound recycled over that quantity, Wegmans would give 50 cents to The Nature Conservancy, the leading organization working around the world to protect lands and waters for nature and people.
The last speaker to join my class that day was Adam Maurer, who is the sustainability manager for Hobart William Smith College in Geneva, NY. Recently Hobart William Smith College has been working toward exploring solar energy. “This is an amazing opportunity for the Colleges to use a newly-acquired piece of property to offset emissions due to our electricity use, provide revenue for the institution, and provide curricular opportunities for HWS students and faculty,” says Adam Maurer, sustainability manager. Maurer continues, “We’re fortunate to have the necessary ingredients to make this project a reality here in Geneva.” In addition, Hobart and William Smith Colleges are projected to see roughly $75,000 in annual energy electric savings, and nearly $1.5 million over the 20-year-term of the projected project.
I want to thank the panel for taking time out of their busy career schedules to speak with my class and give my classmates and myself more information on their careers and the routes at which they had to take to achieve their positions and quality of life today. I was surprised to hear that most of the panel had not planned to be where they are as college graduates. Their jobs in a way found them. After the discussion of the panel I can’t see myself making a career in sustainability, but I can most certainly see myself respecting the earth in my day to day life and all of its inhabitants like this panel chooses to do everyday.