Mariko Hermerding '23 (she/her/hers)

Where do you call home?

Brainerd, MN

What are your major(s) and minor(s)?

Environmental Studies and Peace Studies double major

What is your favorite outdoor activity?

Hammocking and hiking!

Why did you decide to major in Environmental Studies?

I grew up with the Mississippi running right through my backyard. I studied and memorized fish species, I captured water bugs in mason jars, and I waded my feet into her cool waters. I held that passion and desire to nurture the environment throughout high school. While I wasn't sure of it right away, it wasn't long before I knew I wanted to major in Environmental Studies. The easy accessibility to the outdoors and the friendly, knowledgeable faculty/staff introduced me to the wonders of ES and the opportunities it brings.

What environmental issue are you most passionate about?

I feel like my answer to this is always changing. Recently, I've been interested in making nature more accessible and welcoming to marginalized groups. Women, BIPOC, queer folks, etc. have been cut off from the outdoors. Working for the IWL, I have the unique opportunity to center all of my programming around the outdoors. I hope to incorporate this passion into my career one day.

What is your favorite Environmental Studies class and why?

U.S. Environmental History with Derek Larson. While I'm passionate about the environment, I'm also a huge history buff. I enjoy learning about past historical figures and events, and how they impacted the world we know today. Professor Larson does a great job at keeping the content interesting and keeps his lectures engaging.

What was the focus of your research for ENVR 320? What were your findings?

For ENVR 320, I studied how youth activists maintain joy in the environmental justice movement. I interviewed members of the CSB+SJU Climate Justice Club and through my research I discovered that social media, relationship building, and community action are effective tactics to help alleviate the burden of climate change.

What advice do you have for first year students and majors?

My advice for first-year students and ES majors is to find a balance early. Starting a new chapter of life in a new place is extremely exciting and you want to try everything. Take time to try new things and find your passion, and when you do, put your time and energy into that one thing. Become knowledgeable in your passion. Teach others about your passion. Not only will this help avoid burnout, but it will lead you to a great group of passionate, like-minded friends.