Service year 2014-2015

In service year 2014-2015, 38 Minnesota GreenCorps members served at 36 host sites around the state.

GreenCorps members are engaged on projects involving energy conservation, green transportation, stormwater, urban forestry, waste prevention and recycling, and living green outreach.

PDF icon Minnesota GreenCorps: Project Summaries: Program year 2014-2015

Minnesota GreenCorps members from service year 2014-2015

Featured profiles. GreenCorps members have interesting tales to tell even before they serve. Here are a few features that introduce who they are, what they do, and why they are serving as GreenCorps members.

2014: Member - Alison Cole

About me. I grew up in Saint Paul and attended the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities for undergrad. I graduated in 2013 with a degree in Biology. Studying abroad in New Zealand got me interested in the world of environmental science and sustainability. I love backpacking, rock climbing, and generally just being outdoors.

About my service. I am a Living Green member at Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa near Cloquet. I work with the Natural Resources department and am involved in a variety of different projects pertaining to the outreach and education of many different environmental issues. Among these are waste reduction and recycling, implementing composting and milk carton recycling at the Ojibwe school, doing environmental activities and projects with students at the Ojibwe school, testing water quality and surveying plant species of the reservation’s lakes and streams, working on energy conservation through solar panel projects at various government buildings, and helping with community gardens and local foods production.

Why I serve. When I found out about Minnesota GreenCorps, it sounded perfect for me. As someone interested in the environment and sustainability but not quite knowing exactly what I want to focus on for future education, I knew the GreenCorps would provide me with invaluable experience in areas that I am passionate about. Not only will I learn a lot, I will also be able to make a difference in the community and use the knowledge and skills I gained in school to educate others and to hopefully instill motivation and interest in making the Fond du Lac reservation a more sustainable place. As humans who use countless amounts of the world’s resources, it is our duty to use them responsibly and make sure every aspect of the environment is in good health, not only now but in future generations as well.

My favorite place to visit in Minnesota. Anywhere along the North Shore and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Anywhere that I can enjoy nature! Northern Minnesota is a beautiful place and I especially love being up there in the fall.

2014: Member - Allison Granos

About me. I’ve lived in Minnesota my whole life, growing up in Excelsior then attending St. Olaf College (Northfield). I graduated in 2014 with a degree in Chemistry and an even greater interest in pursuing a career in environmental health after experiencing all of St. Olaf’s green initiatives and taking many environmentally focused classes. In my free time I love to enjoy Minnesota’s lakes, read, rock climb, and hike.

About my service. I am a Green Transportation Member hosted by Three Rivers Park District, an organization that serves suburban Hennepin County by promoting environmental stewardship through its 27,000 acres of parks and trails. My service focuses on Three Rivers’ continually expanding network of regional trails. I will be working on analyzing gaps between the trails and locations such as Metro Transit stops, Park and Ride lots, schools, and large corporations, in hopes of making bike commuting via the trails feasible for more people. Additionally, I will focus on promoting the use of the regional trails for bike commuting through community outreach to the people of suburban Hennepin County, including kids, people working near the trails, and Three Rivers employees.

Why I serve. After graduating from college, I wasn’t sure what my next step should be, but I knew I was passionate about the environment and wanted to make a difference however possible. So when I stumbled upon the GreenCorps program, I thought it sounded like a perfect opportunity for me to explore the environmental field while gaining valuable work experience and significantly impacting my community. The GreenCorps program’s emphasis on professional development will prepare me for a future environmental career, and hopefully by the end of my service I will be able to determine what career that will be.

My favorite place to visit in Minnesota. Gooseberry Falls State Park and the North Shore of Lake Superior in general. I love the endless hiking and exploring possibilities!

2014: Member - Amber Brooks-Mohler

About me. As someone who enjoys the outdoors my passion lies in natural resources management and conservation. I graduated from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities where I majored in fisheries and wildlife with an emphasis in wildlife biology and a minor in environmental science policy and management. I have lived in the Twin Cities area for 15 years and consider Minnesota my home. I enjoy camping, fishing, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

About my service. As a Green Infrastructure – Urban Forestry member serving at the City of Prior Lake, I work with the city and local community to ensure the health and sustainability of area forests. In this position I work closely with volunteer groups and other organizations to develop sustainable forestry programs and practices that will continue past my service. I also work closely with our stormwater engineer on public outreach.

Why I serve. As a Minnesota resident and outdoor enthusiast I understand the importance of natural resources management and conservation. I believe that as environmental ambassadors, environmental professionals are responsible for educating their community. I serve because I want to give back to my community and to the outdoors. I am driven to educate the public on environmental issues and to serve as an environmental ambassador. I am honored to work alongside environmental professionals in the City of Prior Lake and the Minnesota GreenCorps to ensure a greener tomorrow.

My favorite place to visit in Minnesota. The bluffs in the southern part of the state. The impressive and unique geology of this area is unlike anything else in the state and is a natural gem for our state.

2014: Member - Andrew Hagmann

About me. Born and raised in the Twin Cities, I graduated from college in 2013 with a B.A. in Public Health from the University of St. Thomas. During my studies I was involved in numerous "green" initiatives on campus and my greatest interests were, and still are, related to the environment and sustainability. I now live in St. Paul where you can often find me enjoying the many bike trails, parks, green spaces, and awesome restaurants.

About my service. I am an energy conservation member hosted by Independent School District 197 in Mendota Heights. Ultimately, my goal is to reduce energy use and produce measurable savings district wide. This will result in numerous benefits from a smaller carbon footprint to increased fund availability in the district education budget. I will be attempting to accomplish this through the implementation of behavior change programs for students and staff, and by analyzing energy tracking systems such as B3 Benchmarking and EnergyPrint.

Why I serve. Serving in the GreenCorps program provides me with an incredible opportunity to explore my environmental interests in a professional setting. There is an immense amount of support from GreenCorps staff and from the members at my host site, which has allowed me to learn about energy, community engagement, and so much more. As a recent graduate I wanted to finally put my education to work in an area that I was passionate about and I found that in the GreenCorps program. It gives me the opportunity to make a positive impact in my community and to see that impact play out over the course of my service.

My favorite place to visit in Minnesota. I don't think I could pick just one. Some of my top picks are the bluffs of Red Wing, the North Shore of Lake Superior near Lutsen and the Split Rock Lighthouse, and the waters of Lake Minnetonka.

2014: Member - Aubrey Fonfara

About me. I grew up in rural Wisconsin, next to the Mississippi River surrounded by bluffs and farmland. I graduated from Hamline University in 2009 with a double major in Communication Studies and Environmental studies, and afterwards spent a year abroad teaching English in Europe. I’m really interested in the social side of sustainability, and working directly with people on how to be more conscious about our impact on the environment.

About my service. I’m currently serving with the city of Minneapolis, where I’m working on several projects related to waste reduction and recycling. My main project is to revamp the city’s internal recycling program by making assessments and providing better recycling infrastructure for all fire departments, police precincts, maintenance facilities, and Minneapolis City Hall. A huge part of this job includes creating and providing education to employees and custodians to make sure everyone understands why recycling is important, and to teach people to recycle effectively so we can all work together to reduce waste. Minneapolis is also getting ready to launch a city-wide organics collection program, so I am also helping to provide outreach to the Minneapolis community on organics and recycling education - including planning a big Minneapolis Earth Day event in the spring.

Why I serve. I serve because I believe that every small thing we do can make a huge difference. Environmental issues often seem big and overwhelming, but GreenCorps is a testament to the idea that by being involved in our community, and inspiring others to value ideas like recycling and green living, can ultimately create collective and effective change. My service is giving me the opportunity to focus my interests on social sustainability and work directly in community outreach and education to share my passion for environmental preservation.

My favorite place to visit in Minnesota. It’s so hard to choose… I’m still becoming acquainted with the Twin Cities as it seems like I discover something new here every day. But I think my favorite places are the North Shore or the bluffs of the Mississippi in the southern half of the state.

2014: Member - Brian Downing

About me. Duluth has always been my home. The beautiful great lake, the balance between big city and small town, the easy access to outdoor activities, and the defined, reliable rotation of seasons keep me energized and inspired. Nature and the nearby unknowns draw me to the woods in my open time. Hiking, skiing, ice hockey, road and mountain bicycling, and Boundary Waters adventures are some common activities for me. I developed a travel itch a few years ago after a train ride to Oregon. Now I find myself constantly thinking about where to go next and what new experiences I can have.

About my service. Through a general interest in bicycling and the effect that people have on the environment by moving from place to place, I focused my undergrad studies on transportation issues and alternatives. Add a transportation planning internship, and it was natural for me to work on bicycling initiatives in Duluth as an Air Quality - Green Transportation member. My service time will be spent working on two main projects. Last autumn, Duluth was awarded Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community status by the League of American Bicyclists. Related to this, I will help Duluth establish a sustainable City Bicycle Committee which will guide efforts to take steps to create a more bicycle-friendly atmosphere and environment in Duluth. I will also work to expand the multi-use paved trail network in Duluth by joining the Lowell to Lakewalk Trail team in an effort to extend the Lakewalk up the hill and through business districts, educational institutions, and neighborhoods. This work will involve promoting the ability of non-motorized transportation and urban design to increase health, business, and community connectedness, as well as to decrease GHG emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.

Why I serve. Minnesota GreenCorps provides me with a unique opportunity to connect with community leaders who work on socially, economically, and environmentally responsible projects. This service allows me to make a meaningful impact on the resiliency of my hometown of Duluth and to affect change at a local, community level. Additionally, it will provide me with the connections, training, and experience to develop into an effective community leader myself and to pass those onto others and grow our network of educated, aware, responsible, and motivated local and global citizens.

My favorite place to visit in Minnesota. This will probably be a popular one, and it will be for a reason. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is the most magical place to visit for a northern Minnesota person like myself, and I imagine for many others. A week spent getting lost and finding myself in the North woods is all I need to rejuvenate, replenish, and energize my soul.

2014: Member - Taylor Hays

About me. I grew up in Hastings and attended the University of Minnesota - Morris where I fell in love with the environment. I learned that there were a lot of important issues surrounding the environment and felt a sense of urgency at needing to be a part of the solutions. I graduated with a degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in Anthropology. I then worked for one summer as a crew leader with Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa and lived in Minnesota state parks all summer, hanging out with youth, living in tents and cooking our meals over a camp stove. It was a fantastic experience! I love to be outdoors, to learn new things, and to teach others what I've learned!

About my service. I am serving Carver County as a Waste Prevention and Recycling GreenCorps Member. My first task this service term is working with around five schools to improve or implement a recycling and organics composting program within their school. This means tracking pre-and-post implementation waste data, setting up bins, and (my favorite part) educating students and staff in the school about why our waste is so important, and what we can do with it to make it useful. My next two tasks will start up more in the spring and summer – first, I will be working with Carver County Parks to establish similar programs within the parks system; at campgrounds, beaches and dog parks. Secondly, I’ll be working with the county to determine the best way to reduce waste at county events (such as the County Fair), turning these community events into low-waste gatherings called Green Gatherings.

Why I serve. I originally wanted to be a GreenCorps member because it was directly related to my field of study, which is rare for someone just getting out of college! I also feel that I am obligated to serve (and do so gladly) simply because I have the ability to. Since starting my service, GreenCorps has been great in helping me develop professional skills, communicate proficiently, and to get a good feel for what life is like in the professional environmental field.

My favorite place to visit in Minnesota. Gooseberry Falls State Park. I spent three weeks up there with a crew this summer, tenting 15 feet from the shore of Lake Superior. Additionally, Shovel Point up on the North Shore has the most amazing sunrise! Lake Superior is just so neat – there is so much history and so much to see!