I’ve recently finished studying in Saudi Arabia, where I completed my M.S. degree in Environmental Science and Engineering. I moved back to Northern Colorado because I consider it my home, and its natural beauty was what motivated me to pursue the environmental sciences – making it the perfect location for me to pause and consider where next to go. I’m grateful to intern with Nourish the Planet because of its relation to engineering sustainable and appropriate technologies; the application of such solutions to needful communities in the Majority World has motivated my scholarly interests, and continues to help guide where next I may live, work, and explore. 

When did you first become interested in sustainability?

Sustainability has always been defined in my mind as the proper stewarding of our natural environment. The first time I really appreciated nature in its pristine state was my first hike into Rocky Mountain National Park. Western Colorado’s mountainous region contains vistas worthy enough to convince anyone that environmental stewarding is a significant endeavor.

What are the most interesting/important things that you’ve learned since being an intern at Nourish the Planet?

I have always assumed that agriculture, be it natural or hydroponically-grown, consumes a large amount of water. Maintaining the modular aquaponic systems here at NTP has taught me that crops can be grown with astonishingly efficient water usage.

How do you incorporate sustainability into your life?

I utilize my purchasing power carefully. The United States, as with much of the world, is a society dominated by consumerism. All products, regardless of production location and efficiency, stress the planet’s resources. Some, like home-grown herb gardens, stress the soil marginally, and yield the payback of reducing commercial pesticide use, transportation costs, and packaging. Others, like many of the latest high-tech gadgets, distress literally all parts of nature’s resource cycle. Consumerism is powerful, and holds the potential for both the greatest preservation of our planet, and its expedited demise. By considering all of my purchases carefully, and by researching their production methods, I affect the sustainability of our planet’s resources with literally every dollar I spend.

What do you want to see change in the world in the next 10 years?

What do I want to see change in the world in the next 10 years? Too many things. But I’ll settle for something smaller, for the immediate future: Stereotypes. Categorization is very necessary for daily living, and we (me and you, likely) all classify the people we meet every day into different social bins. I am no psychology major, but I’ve heard its actually quite necessary for daily functioning. What I would like to see continue to change is people’s willingness to challenge those self-proscribed stereotypes more often.

What are your goals for the future?

I could put something inspirational here, but honestly, I don’t have a list of goals. I try to live in each day as it comes, loving others and working productively as best I can for the day. 

If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Be with people. Don’t allow yourself to be captured by the lull of entertainment media. Meet someone new each day, re-connect with old friends more frequently, and go deeper in the friendships you have already. Don’t quit the day until you’ve broached the skin of superficiality with at least one person in your path.

What do you do to “get away from it all” or what is your passion?

The Iron and Steel. Never mind the fact that it’s actually mostly steel and hardened rubber; when I need to get away from it all, I turn to the tension-releasing activity of lifting weights against gravity. The simplicity of concept and motion found in weight-training pulls me back to the gym daily.

What is your favorite book that you’ve read in the past year?

The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. Some have said that he’s the J.R.R. Tolkien of the century. I’m not quite sure I agree; the book is much easier to start reading. You don’t have to wade through dozens of pages of insomnia-curing Hobbit-lore to get to the meaty, delightful story.

Name one thing that you could not live without?

Books. Having traveled the world since my early youth – and spent several hours in long waiting-lines – I propose that books are a person’s greatest inanimate companion.

When you are feeling unmotivated, how do you inspire yourself?

I read the words of Dave Draper, the Blond Bomber, who is my favorite bodybuilder. Being a former Mr. America, Mr. Olympia, and Mr. Universe, not only is Draper a great worker of the body, but he’s an incredibly creative, funny, and inspirational writer. Having worked through some of the lowest lows and highest highs of life, his writing reflects all that is most important to keep in mind when you’re feeling unmotivated. God’s love, a can of tuna, and plenty of water. Enough said.

What is one sentence that describes the philosophy by which you live your life?

There is no single sentence that encapsulates the entire philosophy by which I live my life. There is a relationship that does, but that’s with a Person, and not with a sentence. There is a sentence that describes some of how I choose to live my life, however:

I believe individuals to be of more value than things, quality of more value than happiness, forgiveness of more value than pride, sincerity of more value than artificiality, and beauty of more value than adornment.