AU grad gains experience in environmental management

Tue, 2012-09-04 08:00 -- univcomm
September 4, 2012

After graduating in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in history and a cognate in environment justice, Anderson University alumna Caitlin Stuart began working as a park ranger and natural resource intern at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.

From May to September 2010, Stuart worked as an interpreter at the park. This position consisted of researching the history of Civil War battlefields, giving tours, presenting speeches to groups of about 350 people, and helping form new exhibits and activities in the park.

One of her favorite responsibilities was working with school groups and children. “I worked on designing new Junior Ranger books — educational companion books for kids — and worked significantly with a local sixth-grade art class on a Civil War project,” said Stuart.

Although she enjoyed the history of the park, her passion for environmental issues quickly led her to pursue environmental management. Stuart still remains at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, but her role has changed.

“I decided to learn what it meant to manage a park from the natural resource perspective, which is something I was interested in pursuing professionally. I have been monitoring our animal population in the park, as well as managing our invasive species,” said Stuart. “With an interest in the environment, but not much of a background in it, it has been an incredible opportunity to learn more of what it takes to manage what we typically consider to be the wild world.”

Stuart is currently applying to graduate schools to pursue a degree in environmental studies with a focus in nutrition. “I believe one of the key elements to sustaining the health of our environment, sustaining the nutritional health of our human race, and sustaining our economy is creating an environment where ‘local’ is the focus,” said Stuart. “One example of this would mean supporting our local farms as much as possible by purchasing local food rather than processed food material coming from far-off farms.”

Stuart hopes to be a connecting link between farmers and consumers through this new type of job. Although this position does not yet exist, Stuart hopes to create a focused career.

Her willingness to pursue her passions has always shone through Stuart’s work.

“Caitlin was so motivated and would find answers on her own,” said Dr. Brian Dirck, professor of history. “She would come to me with ideas and I would just let her run with them. It’s unusual to have gone as far and fast as she did.” One of these ideas was her cognate in environmental justice, which was a minor she created for herself because of her interest in the environment.

As well as being willing to chase her interests, Stuart also brought a new viewpoint to AU’s classroom environment in her years at the university. “Caitlin always brought a fresh perspective and excitement that energized every class,” said Dr. Joel Shrock, professor of history. “Whenever I teach the History of the American Family course, I wish she was present to provide her ‘outside of the box’ insight. Anyone who has ever met Caitlin also knows she is one of the most positive, pleasant people ever to pass through AU.”

Stuart fully believes it is her duty as a Christian to share with others about our part in caring for the environment. “Every choice we make, whether it is how far we drive today, what food we choose to eat, what restaurant we choose to eat it at, not to mention what leaders we choose to lead, inadvertently has an effect on the environment, which then, in turn, has an effect on the life of someone else,” said Stuart. “If we're all about loving God and loving others, I believe we should begin by loving what God has given us and educating ourselves on how our actions our seriously affecting the lives of other people.”

— Lydia Hawley is a sophomore from Homerville, Ohio, majoring in public relations and dance performance. Lydia is an associate with Fifth Street Communications, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.