Hudson Echelard ('18)
What were your plans coming into college and how have they evolved since?
As a first year at St. Johns University I had high hopes of following the pre-med track to become a nurse. It did not take more than a week before I knew this was not for me. I then began to focus my studies on outdoor education; the outdoor programs and organization at CSBSJU had allowed me to become familiar with the topic and helped me solidify my future plans. However, it was not until my junior year that my interests changed yet again, and I focused on one area within environmental studies. I began to take classes with the political science department and realized my passions laid behind environmental policy. Although St. Johns University does not have an environmental policy major, I was able to take a variety of classes that were interdisciplinary and gave me a great understanding of the political side of environmentalism.
Why did you choose to study environmental studies?
Coming from the small town of Winona Minnesota, I had been introduced to the great outdoors at a young age. With a boathouse on the Mississippi within biking distance from my house and a long history in the Boy Scouts of America I developed an interest to the land and environment that surrounded. While beginning my career at St. Johns I was involved with many clubs and organizations that fell under the supervision of the environmental studies department, and Outdoor University. With the St. Johns Arboretum available for recreation and classes, I found it impossible not to major in something that allowed me to get outside every week.
Have you participated in any study abroad, ABE, or off campus learning experiences? How were they beneficial to the your major?
During the fall of my junior year I studied abroad in Cannes, France. Although my study abroad experience was full of long days spent on the Mediterranean sea eating fresh fruit and leaning to speak the romantic language, it was there that I began to take an interest in politics. This newfound interest in politics was a result of living in a county that had a completely differing government systems and styles from United States. Becoming interested in this topic has allowed me to shape my studies in the direction I feel most passionate.
What sort of extra-curricular activities are you involved in?
I am a member of the St. Johns University Varsity Swim & Dive Team. I will be commencing my fourth year on the swim team as a sprint and mid-distance free style swimmer. I am also a member of the Peer Resource Program where we conduct on-campus events, lead challenge courses, and facilitate wilderness trips. I am the manager of the Outdoor leadership Center (OLC) located at St. Johns University. The OLC is an organization that rents outdoor gear to students, free of charge! Finally, I am a resident of the St. John’s Eco-house; with a solar farm in the back yard and a green house in the front, the eco-house promotes a sustainable life style for college students.
Please describe your internship experience (past, current, or future).
This past summer I had the opportunity to intern at Geronimo Energy Located in Edina, Minnesota. Geronimo Energy is a renewable energy company that has developed over 1,500 MW of renewable energy in the Mid-West. I interned with the permitting team and primarily focused on permitting 1 MW solar farms in Minnesota. With many late nights on the road attending county board meetings, and long days in the field learning the environmental permitting process of renewable energy, I have been able to develop questions and ideas that I will be focusing on answering in my senior thesis.
Do you have any advice for current or future environmental studies majors?
My advice is to get involved. Getting involved and straying involved is just as important as getting good grades! I mean, still get good grades, but being involved shows employers and teachers that you want to learn and gain experience through more than just class.
What are your plans and goals for the future?
I would love to take a year of my life and volunteer. After I spend time giving back, I am interested in getting my foot in the door of the renewable energy industry. I am interested in working environmental permitting for a renewable energy company in the United States.
If you could be any animal, what would you be and where would you live?
I would like to be a baby goat living in the mountains of Switzerland!