CSU Monterey Bay’s true environmental legacy is its people. | Monterey County NOW Intro

Good morning, and happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and people who act as moms!

Speaking of mothers — Pam Marino here, thinking about how there must be some pretty proud moms of some CSU Monterey Bay students and grads who are making a real difference in the world thanks to the knowledge and skills they learned as Otters.

I’m talking about the student leaders and professionals who sought out an education from CSUMB precisely because of its history of leading the way in sustainability. The cover story I wrote that appears in this week’s paper details some of that history and how it’s led to a huge commitment to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and become carbon neutral by 2030. Two other big goals are included: planting 2,030 trees and diverting 90 percent of its waste from landfills.

These three core goals are included in CSUMB’s Inclusive Sustainability Plan, adopted in 2020. The pandemic waylaid fanfare around its unveiling — that fanfare came on Wednesday, May 4, in a public ceremony called the “State of Sustainability.” The pandemic did not stop working on pursuing the plan’s goals, though. Since 2020, students have planted nearly 300 coast live oaks using seedlings nurtured by the volunteer group Return of the Natives.

My story details some of the ways CSUMB students, faculty and staff plan to meet the ambitious core goals. But as the longtime radio personality Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story is that while CSUMB strives to impact the future of the planet, it’s arguably already created a legacy of developing leaders in sustainability that are shaping both government and industry.

One of the former students I met while reporting the story was Carolyn Hinman who, after graduation, found a career as an environmental outreach coordinator in Santa Cruz County with Greenwaste. She told me the experience she gained at CSUMB along with the support of her professors and administrators led to a career she’s passionate about.

Graduates from the environmental and sustainability-focused programs at CSUMB are populating numerous local and state agenciesincluding the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District, California State Parks, and the California Department of Fish and Game, says Fred Watson, an applied environmental science professor.

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“We look around the workforce around us and we see a lot of graduates. It’s good, ”he said. Watson says. “The graduates hire new graduates, so we’re serving our community in a circular way with positive feedback.” Once in the work world, CSUMB grads inform their former professors about what they need out of future employees.

Students, faculty and staff are also having an impact on the greater CSU system. Watson believes input from CSUMB influenced the CSU Board of Trustees to include for the first time wording promoting habitat restoration and biodiversity in amendments to its Sustainability Policy on March 23.

In my story you can also read about Ethan Quaranta, a graduating senior, who majored in environmental studies with a concentration in sustainable communities and a minor in environmental health policy. Last year, he led a successful effort to convince trustees to divest from fossil fuel companies. He’s planning on a career that focuses on sustainability.

Will CSUMB meet its big goals by 2030? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, it’s already successfully making a difference in protecting the environment through its people.

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