Earth Day, April 22, is an important celebration for University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point student Taylor Christiansen. She hopes to teach at a high school or college, tend to her own farm and share what she knows about agriculture with peers, friends and colleagues.
These might seem like very diverse fields to pursue within a single career, but they have a uniting factor. They all appeal to Christiansen’s passion for sustainability.
“Earth Day, for me, is a day to recalibrate and remember that everything I do has a direct correlation to the entire Earth,” Christiansen said. “It’s more important than just recycling or planting trees because everything we do affects something else. I believe Earth Day is a great way to make students aware of sustainability and help them make better decisions.”
Christiansen, of New Berlin, Wis., said she developed an interest in the green movement when she was in high school. As a result, UW-Stevens Point’s reputation for sustainability – in research, practice, student-body interest and classroom teaching – intrigued her so much she visited and applied only to UW-Stevens Point.
“Initially, I wanted to come here to save the pandas,” Christiansen said with a smile, confirming her early interest in wildlife ecology
. However, her priorities evolved, leading her to major in land-use planning
and study the roles of food and local agriculture in sustainability.
“As I progressed through my studies, I found I’m definitely more of a people person,” she said. “When I improved my social skills, I realized I have the potential to help people make better choices. I realized I could study land-use management on a bigger scale.
“I find food to be a great connecting point,” Christiansen added. “Everybody eats. Everybody can relate, and not only to what we eat, but to how that food is getting to us. Our food hits on all aspects of sustainability.”
As a UW-Stevens Point student, Christiansen has held positions as the secretary, vice president and president of Students for Sustainable Communities, now called Students for Sustainability. She also was the garden manager for the Sustainable Agriculture in Communities Society, and she’s been the rock climbing president of the Adventure Club.
She currently serves as an AmeriCorps Member-Volunteer Coordinator with Central Rivers Farmshed and hopes to continue that role after her May graduation if it receives full-time funding in fall. She also will pursue graduate school and a doctoral degree.