Sarah Coffey, a third year Environmental Science and Geography major at Stetson University, is a committed campus and community leader in the issues of environmental sustainability and food justice. As a first-year student, Sarah became the first Environmental Values Fellow, through which she coordinates on-campus environmental awareness programs, manages a campus community garden, and works with students and faculty to conduct a bi-annual campus carbon audit in order to reduce campus emissions and water usage. Her actions have not been limited to campus, though; Sarah's work in the greater DeLand community includes developing environmental education programs and community gardens in local Title I elementary schools, organizing ten Days of Service to connect students with local non-profit organizations focusing on education and environment, advocating for educational and environmental policy change with the Florida Legislature, and leading community conversations about food deserts. Sarah has also completed environmental fieldwork across the world, including vegetation surveys in the San Juan Islands and biodiversity surveys in Costa Rica. Upon graduation, Sarah intends to pursue a doctoral program in environmental justice in the areas of food justice in marginalized communities or sustainable water governance among indigenous peoples.
In a world where the future seems more uncertain than ever, what brings me the greatest comfort is the power of community. I believe that any community that demonstrates determination and support of one another can create a better environment, so it is my goal to facilitate-using the community's knowledge of their local environment and people-sustainable community building.
These problems of having good food and clean water will become increasingly challenging as climate change progresses and we continue to use our in unsustainable ways. As a student of Environmental Science and Geography, I have been introduced to several academic disciplines and their approaches to understanding the world. Based on my studies and my observations of the world, I believe that my purpose in life is to help bridge the gap between scientific knowledge/technology and its implementation in society. We have large strides to make in correcting social injustice, and I believe that viewing nature as "right here" rather than "somewhere else," that is valuing and respecting every part of this Earth and its inhabitants, is necessary to accomplish this goal.