My name is Olivia, and I’m an Environmental Ethics 2021 alum. I am currently a third-year student at the University of Vermont majoring in Environmental Studies, double minoring in Economics and Community & International Development, and working towards my Place-Based Education Certificate.
WRFI showed me the importance of hands-on, place-based learning. There are so many insights that community members can share with you that sitting in a classroom reading a textbook will never be able to teach you. Sharing your perspective of what your idea of a sustainable future would look like while you are standing in front of a glacial lake, with the mountains and melting glacier in the distance is so much more powerful and impactful than researching sustainable practices in a traditional classroom. For these reasons that WRFI showed me, I decided to pursue my certificate in place-based education so that I can help foster similar opportunities for others.
As for my economics minor, junior year of high school me sitting in my microeconomics class could never tell you that I’d have an interest in this field. However, from my WRFI experience, I met so many incredible people with diverse backgrounds, a few of which who were studying economics. During one of our discussions sitting on the forest floor in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana, one of my peers, Ben, mentioned how environmental studies show us where we want the world to be, but we live in a society operating in an economic worldview, so in order to see the outcomes we want, we must understand the system. Him showing me the importance of the intersection of these two fields was what made me declare economics as my minor right when I got back to UVM.
WRFI gives you the chance to meet people who you would never have met otherwise, gives you both academic and real-world experiences, challenges you physically and mentally, and allows you to explore yourself on a deeper level. This course and the people who learned beside me truly changed my perspective on life for the better, and for that, I will always be incredibly thankful for WRFI for giving me such a unique and impactful opportunity. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about the WRFI experience– I love talking about all things WRFI!