By: Alexa Geider, Water Events Intern
Are you looking for a career in environmental advocacy?
Do you think that because your academic talents or career interests do not lie in the STEM fields (the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math), you can’t make a difference or make a career in environmental advocacy? Actually, environmental advocacy is more encompassing than these disciplines and you are needed to respond to today’s environmental concerns. Though professionals in the STEM fields are absolutely necessary and important for the betterment of our communities, many may be surprised by the many paths one may take to “work for the environment.” Here are some academic and experiential learning opportunities that can lead to working for WMEAC or another environmentally-focused organization:
Love being outside?
Outdoor recreation and education is a wonderful way to educate youth about connecting to the natural world. Working for a summer camp can be a pathway to instructing wilderness trips for organizations like the Women’s Wilderness Institute, Outward Bound, or The National Outdoor Leadership School. Check out the American Camp Association to find seasonal or summer jobs at a camp. A bonus? Most camp job benefits include housing and food on top of a weekly wage. Find a summer camp in near you or adventure far from home!
Enjoy planning and organization?
Each event like the Grand River Cleanup takes months of planning and plenty of volunteer coordinating. If you’re one of those people who love color coordination, lists, and a mixture of working alone and with others, event coordinating is a career for you. In addition, if you can plan a water festival, you could probably be a wedding planner for a friend too, right?
Artistic expression is often used a means of cultural critique. Through various mediums, artists are able to raise awareness for social and environmental issues. Create artwork to be displayed during Grand Rapids’ ArtPrize. In addition, graphic design, photography, and film are all necessary promotion tools for organizations like WMEAC.
Write grants to raise money for organizational initiatives or look into environmental literature. Place-based poetry and books like The Legend of Sleeping Bear by Kathy-Jo Wargin teaches readers about geography and stories that connect people, memorable life stories, and places.
Interested in business?
Some colleges and universities offer degrees that combine business, economics, and entrepreneurship. Check out Aquinas College’s Sustainable Business major or Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo Valley Community College who, according to MLive, are creating “the nation’s first higher education programs in sustainable brewing.” Yes, that’s right, you can now study how to make craft beer that you could then bring back to Michigan’s Beer City!
Are you an advocate for human equity and justice?
A career in environmental advocacy isn’t all about ecology. WMEAC recognizes that environmental deterioration often impacts underrepresented communities the most. Environmental justice is a social movement that continues to bring community-focused people together to create healthy spaces for living, working, and playing. Volunteer at a community garden and get involved in local partnerships. Or pursue public policy and law!
These are just a few “alternative” pathways to Remember that all of our hands and talents are needed in creating a “greener” earth!
Research sources and resources: