Morgan Durbin

What were your plans coming into college and how have they evolved since? Why did you choose to study environmental studies?

I came into college aspiring to be in the Integrated Health Sciences Major with a focus in Nutrition. While I love food – really really love food – I realized that I was more passionate about social and environmental justice in tandem with food and agriculture than dietetics counseling. I changed my major going into my sophomore year to Environmental Studies. I’m passionate about sustainable agriculture and food security both in the United States and abroad, and I have had so many opportunities to communicate and connect with individuals from various fields


Have you participated in any study abroad, ABE, or off campus learning experiences? How were they beneficial to the your major?

I studied abroad in Kolkata, India during spring semester of my sophomore year and just south of the Yukon territories in British Columbia, Canada last summer. India taught me the importance of learning to be comfortable in discomfort and cross-cultural communication and understanding. My time in British Columbia was through an external program, Round River Conservation Studies, studying the impact of climate on alpine vegetation and human encroachment on ungulate (e.g. mountain goats, stone sheep and caribou) populations. I learned that I am not a conservation biologist, but I reaffirmed my passion for working with people towards the common goal of environmental stewardship.


What sort of extra-curricular activities are you involved in?

I run Cross Country and Track & Field at St. Ben’s, and I am the Co-President of Sustainability Alliance. I also live in an Eco House, and I work as a tour guide on both campuses.


Does living in an eco-house on campus reflect your environmental studies major?

While it isn’t required to be an Environmental Studies major to live in an Eco House, a lot of what I’ve learned in the last four years translates over to the experience I’ve had there. Because my education has a large focus on sustainability, I think I feel a stronger commitment to living mindfully in concerns to the environment.


Please describe your internship experience (past, current, or future).

I interned at the Steger Wilderness Center during the summer between my sophomore and junior years. I was a part of the Marie and Robert Jackson Fellowship on campus, one that focuses on the role of non-profits in policy and community engagement. My internship consisted of constructing what will be the Steger Wilderness Center, a non-profit environmental learning and collaboration center. I also attended workshops and learned about the importance of working in tandem with the environment, especially sustainable development.


Do you have any advice for current or future environmental studies majors?

The Environmental Studies major is multidisciplinary. Take that opportunity to find something that you are passionate about!! Give yourself the opportunity to learn about environmental issues that you might not otherwise. Sustainability and the environment is complex, and you will be able to explore those connections as an Environmental Studies major.


What are your plans and goals for the future?

I am currently applying for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant scholarship to Sri Lanka, a Conservation Education program through the Peace Corps, a naturalist program in Northern Minnesota and a few grad school programs for Environmental Education. I believe that education is a stimulus for environmental stewardship (and otherwise) and community engagement. It is important for me to work with people and facilitate cross-cultural understanding in hopes of achieving a common goal.


If you could be any animal, what would you be and where would you live?

I would be a Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)!! Check out a wingboom on YouTube and you’ll understand why. They live in rural and urban environments, and they have one of the longest migration routes from the Yukon territories of Canada to Central South America! They get to see so many places and environments every year, how cool!