2013: Member - Katelyn Larsen

About me. I first became interested in environmental issues after taking a few classes in college. Of course, I was always a fan of nature and being outside, but I didn’t start to really care about the world I was living in until college. After taking a few courses that discussed water rights and other environmental issues, I decided to pick up an environmental studies minor to fully engage myself in the subject. I traveled to Yellowstone National Park with a group of students from an environmental policy class, and that further solidified my interest in environmental policy. However, I wasn’t satisfied by only getting a minor in environmental studies. I wanted more. Much more. So, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in the subject, focusing on policy and planning. This path of life took me all the way up to Bemidji, where I met lots of other students and faculty passionate about the environment. It also led me to my current position as a GreenCorps member, which has been completely satisfying thus far.

About my service. I serve for the Recycling Association of Minnesota, which is an organization dedicated to promoting resource conservation through waste prevention, reuse, recycling, composting, and purchasing practices. During my project term, my main focus is on making carton recycling possible in Becker, Douglas, and Otter Tail counties. Within these counties, there are several interested schools and organizations wanting to recycle cartons, but the infrastructure in their areas is not currently set up. Within the target area, there are a few schools and businesses that have Waste Management as their hauler, so their recycling is already going to the metro area, which already has the infrastructure set up to recycle cartons. Although I will be helping to ensure the entire target area receives the infrastructure for carton recycling, I will be focusing on the schools and businesses that already have infrastructure in place. In addition to helping organizations with carton recycling, I am also working on education and outreach for Minnesota.

Why I serve. I joined the Minnesota GreenCorps in order to gain experience in the environmental field and network with professionals. After completing my master’s degree,one of my thesis committee members recommended that I look into the GreenCorps program, especially since my thesis was on the topic of waste prevention and recycling, a core area of the program. After researching what the GreenCorps program was about, I decided it sounded like a great way to gain experience in the field and network with professionals in the field. I’m hoping that by serving in this program, it will open some doors for future job opportunities.

My favorite place to visit in Minnesota. Dorset. If you haven’t heard of Dorset, Minn., I’m not surprised. It’s a small town halfway between Park Rapids and Nevis and only operates during the tourist season. Even though it shuts down for the majority of the year, it’s always full of people when the businesses are open. Known as the restaurant capital of the world, it’s home to one of my favorite restaurants: La Pasta. When I was attending school in Bemidji, I would frequently bring people down to Dorset or meet people there just to go to La Pasta. In northern Minnesota, Italian food doesn’t get much better than that. Not to mention that the town was run by Bobby Tufts, the world’s cutest three-year-old mayor for a year. Between La Pasta, the unique mayoral race, and some of Minnesota’s finest ice cream, it doesn’t get much better than a summer afternoon spent in Dorset.