Mary Knothe ’19 is spreading sustainability

Mary Knothe ’19, an Environmental Science and Policy alumna, spoke with Office of Sustainability Digital Media Intern Lorna Probasco ’20 to talk about how she’s using what she learned at St. Edward’s University, in the classroom and out of it, to help her take on her world.

What shaped your passion for sustainability? When did you first become interested and how have you continued to work within the sustainability realm, not only in your professional life, but personal life?
I feel like I get more passionate about sustainability every day. I continue to realize how connected everything and everyone is and realize that as a human population overall we are not living in harmony with the earth and are at the root of our climate crisis. I think it is important to live and work cohesively with the earth thanking it for all that it provides us with and teaches us and in my personal life, I am continuously trying to work at that. Right now I am working with a lot of children and I love seeing how excited they get over an ant or a worm. I feel like I am relearning how to marvel over nature again and makes me want to continue fighting for change even more.

During your time at St. Edward’s University you were involved in Students for Sustainability (SFS). What made you join the organization?
I remember going to my first SFS meeting when I was a freshman. It was at Sorin Oak. It seemed like such a cool community of super-passionate people excited to spend time outside together and make some real changes on campus. I slowly got more involved during my next three years of college, having different officer positions and finally as president/co-president my senior year. Also, most of my best friends were also in the group which made it more fun.

How did your time with SFS impact or shape your time in St. Edward’s and ultimately what you’d be doing post-graduation?
Looking back SFS was a huge part of my college experience, especially during my senior year. The community that we built together in SFS made me understand how important having a support system like this one was for me. The friends I have from SFS are people who not only care deeply for each other but also for the earth and our impact on it. It was so special in college to have a group like this. I now live in a community with 9 other people that also work in environmental education and I see a direct correlation from my involvement in the SFS community to where I am now. Additionally, when I held the role of president, so much of my passion and joy was in planning events that brought the community together to discuss important topics and do activities together.

I now live and work on an educational organic farm, Hidden Villa, that focuses on teaching our community about social justice and the environment as the community programs intern at an environmental non-profit and see a direct correlation to this role and SFS. St. Edward’s definitely prepared me for the work I do now as the community programs intern, both in the classroom and socially in the organizations I was a part of. I think the work that I did as SFS president/co-president gave me a lot of confidence that I could facilitate events and teach groups of people about these issues that I care so deeply about.

What are some pieces of advice you would give to current students in regards to making the most out of their time here at St. Edwards?
First of all, talk to your professors! They are there to support you. Ask all the questions. I would not have the job I do now if I hadn’t gone and talked to Dr. Concilio about what I should do after I graduated. I really don’t think it ever hurts to ask for some advice from professors, especially because all the ENSP professors have done so many cool things! Also, try to keep an open mind and not judge people off your first interaction with them, you could be turning down a lot of really cool new friendships. And lastly, put yourself out there. Join new organizations, try to get elected as the president of one, even if you’re really scared. The more you try new, scary things the easier it will get the next time.

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