Shannon Bodeau, a third year student at the University of North Carolina Asheville, has demonstrated exceptional ability to build relationships and to make our campus more environmentally sustainable. Through her work in the Student Environmental Center, she has focused on student outreach and on connecting environmentalism with social, economic, and gender issues. She is involved with Hyannis House, an organization that offers support networks to women and to the LGBTQ community, in an effort to bring gender and LGBTQ justice to environmentalism. Shannon also currently serves as the manager of ROOTS Garden, a role in which she educates the campus community on sustainable food production. In addition, she is involved with the University's active Divestment Coalition which encourages administrators to divest from fossil fuel corporations. Finally, Shannon has been involved with research on Western North Carolina's salamander population that will help predict the future success of high elevation species.
I have always been passionate about environmental issues, but it wasn't until I became involved with my university's Student Environmental Center that I realized the full range of factors at play in them. As a campus garden manager involved with other community gardens throughout the area, I was exposed not just to sustainable food-production practices, but also to the many food security issues present throughout our society. Although community gardens offer a valuable way to increase food sovereignty, I have also begun to delve into the many structural changes that must be made for lasting improvement to take place. In order to address this intersectional approach to environmental justice, I am with the Student Environmental Center to create partnerships between groups that focus on social issues as well as groups centered on the environment. Moving forward, I plan to develop both my own understanding and the understanding at my university of the ways in which environmentalism and society interact, both historically and currently. It is my firm belief that we all exist within one complex system, and therefore can only make meaningful change by acknowledging and addressing this interconnection of issues.