B Lauer is a Minnesota GreenCorps Member serving at Freshwater this year. Her background is in biogeochemistry and ecology, but she is most interested in the complex relationships between humans and the environment. Her general interests include climate change adaptation and building capacity and resilience through community engagement; socio-ecological systems research; and public health as it pertains to climate change and natural resource management. She holds a BA in biology from St. Olaf College with a concentration in environmental studies.
We recently sat down to interview B about her path and about her experience here at Freshwater. Meet B!
Q: How did you become interested in the Minnesota GreenCorps program?
After spending the majority of my college career in labs, I began to notice a pattern. The pattern was one of neglecting the human component of the work being done. In many instances, the research was conducted, written up, and published and not pushed further to find applications that benefit people. After graduation I wanted to find an opportunity to work in either a small government agency or a nonprofit to get a feeling for what it’s like to be on the action side of research.
Q: How did you choose your course of study in college?
Both of my parents are scientists so it was almost predetermined that I would study science. In middle and high school I was very active in the theatre and thought that I could see myself performing as a career, but eventually I attended an ecology field course and fell in love with studying the natural world and its complex and nuanced systems. From there, I knew I would study ecology. My degree in biology gave me a solid foundation and introduction to all things living and the processes through which they live. Environmental studies gave me an outlet to start connecting natural science with social science, art, and humanities. The world is one big, endless puzzle. If I get to put a few pieces together in my life, I will be happy.
Q: Why are you interested in water?
Water is the one thing that is vital to every process, being, and abiotic system on earth. It is the great connector. It can be studied through natural science, social science, art, or a combination of the three. It connects all people everywhere regardless of geographic location, language, or time. It connects us inexplicably to the natural world. Water is the essence of life. Without clean, reliable, healthy water, the systems begin to break down. It is crucial that we protect water like our lives depend on it, because they do.
Q: How has Freshwater made an impact on you?
Even though I have only been at Freshwater for six months, I feel as if I have a home. I have been given the freedom explore many of my interests and the support to pursue them. Each person on the Freshwater team has such an immense capacity to make change. My time here has helped me see what is possible when a small group of dedicated people come together with a shared goal. Freshwater has helped me develop as a professional, given me needed hands-on experience, and made me a stronger communicator, educator, and team member. I will also carry with me, for the rest of my life, the relationships I have made within and outside of the Freshwater office, and the inspiration to keep working for what I believe in.
Q: What is next for you? What do you hope to accomplish in your work?
The big question, huh?! I plan to attend graduate school within the next two years for either global public health or socio-ecological systems (or both J). I have always wanted to work in the gap between science and the general public, but my time at Freshwater has helped me see what that actually looks like. I want to help people determine how they fit into the global ecology, discover the mutualistic relationship we have with the environment, asses the very real threats of climate change, and create ways that we can adapt to benefit humans and the environment.
Q: When you think of healthy water in Minnesota, what do you see?
I think of aquifers filled with clean water. Lakes, streams, and rivers are full of clean water and teeming with aquatic life. Minnesotans are constantly in and on the water. Minnesotans trust their supplies of reliable, clean, healthy drinking water. They treat water as an old friend instead of an expendable consumable.
The Minnesota GreenCorps program is a statewide initiative, coordinated by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, to preserve and protect Minnesota’s environment while training a new generation of environmental professionals. The program places AmeriCorps members with host organizations around the state to assist communities and local governments in addressing a variety of statewide environmental needs.
B is the fifth GreenCorps member who has worked at Freshwater. We estimate that Minnesota GreenCorps members have contributed over _____ hours valued at $_____. Thank you so much to B and the GreenCorps program for the impact you make in our communities.