Green Changemakers

From alumni taking leadership positions in the sustainability field to faculty conducting cutting-edge research, USF Green Changemakers have a story to tell.

Gretchen Coffman

Dr. Gretchen Coffman, Professor of Environmental Management and Science, brings her classroom into the field. For example, Gretchen and environmental studies students are pioneering a community-based conservation project on the western slope of USF’s Hilltop campus. That is where they’ve seeded a native dune restoration initiative, now in its third year. Over 300 students, faculty, staff, and community volunteers have planted more than 1,500 native plants, including a federally endangered native manzanita shrub, to return the hillside to its native state and foster the micro-region’s wildlife. Gretchen explained, My students enjoy learning about environmental science and ecology through a more personal experience. We don’t just study theory. We take action, restoring ecosystems using a hands-on approach.”

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Marilyn DeLaure

Dr. Marilyn DeLaure, USF Associate Professor, has an interactive style of teaching, as highlighted in USF’s sustainability video Green Happens Here. Her research investigates how people effect social change, especially through embodied performance; she has published essays on dance, civil rights rhetoric, and environmental activism. She is co-editor of Culture Jamming: Activism and the Art of Cultural Resistance, forthcoming with NYU Press.  Among the courses she teaches at USF are "Environmental Communication" and "Rhetoric of Social Movements.”

Watch the Green Happens Here video

Deneb Karentz

Dr. Deneb Karentz, USF Professor of Biology and Environmental Science, researches the ecological implications of climate change in Antarctica, exploring how climate change is affecting organisms in the ocean. She has conducted research on the biological consequences of climate change in Antarctica for more than 25 years. Deneb teaches a course on the science of climate change for the USF masters program in Environmental Management. Deneb stressed, "I think it's important for people to realize that humans are actually changing the environment and doing it faster than evolutionary processes can allow organisms to adapt."

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Sara Lund

Sara Lund, Environmental Studies ’15, was declared an Environmental Studies major before she even started USF. Today she is studying at the Presidio School of Management’s Sustainable Management MBA Program. She knows that not everyone wants to be a vegetarian, but she hopes that more students will become aware of the problems with our food system. Her call to action:  “Ask yourself, how is this going to affect the planet, the people around you and generations to come?”

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Craig Petersen

Craig Petersen, Director of Operation, Facilities Management played a leadership role in launching USF’s new beehive, located in the USF Community Garden. When asked what sparked his interested in bees, Craig responded, “I was always fascinated by bees and appreciate their social/communal behavior.” After reading about the plight of the honeybee as it struggles to survive in an environment full of pollution, pesticides, predators, and a variety of diseases and disorders, Craig pitched the idea of USF starting its own hive. “I believe bees are often misunderstood and not fully appreciated for the significant impact they have on our food supply through their efforts to pollinate plants,” explained Craig.

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Brittany Rowles

Brittany Rowles, Environmental Studies ’11, launched USF’s first Earth Day. She now works with Rock the Bike, providing human-powered energy for events. Brittany’s call to action: “I would love for people to eat more locally sourced food, start gardens, and get more connected to the food they nourish their bodies with.”

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Ayrris Tate

Ayrris Tate, Health Services ’16, launched the USF chapter of the Food Recovery Network, which turns campus-produced food waste into meals for those in need. The chapter has grown into a strong volunteer-based group with a leadership team of six and over 20 volunteers. “I get a really happy high from this work. It makes everyone feel really good,” enthused Ayrris.

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Seth Wachtel

Seth Wachtel, Chair of the Department of Art + Architecture, uses local materials and skills to strengthen communities. He is passionate about community design and helping students gain skills and experience that can be used to enhance the world. He explained, “I’m getting students engaged with hands-on projects that hone professional skills for their chosen fields while building a strong desire and belief in helping underserved communities.” 

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Steve Zavestoski

Dr. Steve Zavestoski, Professor of Environmental Studies, is passionate about the connection between sustainability and public health. His work focuses on urban and transportation planning. As an avid bike advocate, Steve commutes to work on his bike-- he has never had a USF parking permit in 15 years! You can catch him defining sustainability at the beginning of USF’s sustainability video Green Happens Here. He teaches a variety of classes, including Environment and Society and the Capstone Practicum in Environmental Studies.

Watch the Green Happens Here video