Prescott College recently invited Annie Baker ’21 to fill a newly-created position at the college—Sustainability Coordinator—through the Arizona Serve program. In this new role, Annie will assess sustainability practices on campus, develop proposals for improvements, and build social sustainability by engaging community members. In addition, she is collaborating with other organizations and programs to support individuals in the larger community who find themselves in need, underserved, or underrepresented.
“We’re thrilled to have Annie in this position,” said Dr. Laird Christensen, Director of the Green Mountain Center for Sustainability at Prescott College, “because this was absolutely the highest priority based on the comments we received from students at public meetings this past year.” Christensen points out that it was the creation of a similar position, also through Americorps, that put Green Mountain College on a path that eventually led the campus to be recognized as a national leader in sustainability.
In the fall of 2019, Annie transferred to Prescott from Green Mountain College, where she studied Environmental Science and worked as an intern in the College’s Sustainability Office. Through this experience, she conducted greenhouse gas inventories, local food reporting, planning, reporting and data analysis, and more—all of which helped to prepare her for her new role at Prescott College, where she will work closely with both Dr. Christensen and the Director of Facilities, Brad Sinn.
In addition to identifying ways to limit energy consumption at Prescott College, Annie will also continue working toward reducing waste. “I've worked a lot with waste diversion in the past through research and working hands-on collecting, sorting, and auditing,” she explained. “These experiences at the end of the consumption chain inspire me to find ways to reduce waste at the very beginning—both in production and packaging.” While working with other Sustainability Center students this past year, Annie had the opportunity to help with waste-diversion projects such as creating a system for campus-wide composting, creating a Free Store, and hosting DIY events.
Through her internship with the Yavapai Climate Change Coalition and Northern Arizona Climate Change Alliance this past spring, Annie planned Earth Day/week initiatives and activities, engaging a team of youth from across the city of Prescott. When the emerging COVID-19 virus made in-person events impossible, she and her team conceptualized and created three virtual events to continue the Earth Day celebration. She piloted an online Prescott Area Earth Day Challenge, which encouraged area students to create a project involving climate advocacy in relation to their communities, with submissions ranging from poems and art to gardens and community cleanup events. She also researched, designed, and released three infographics for kids and families to learn about Earth Day (and are applicable year-round). “Through this amazing experience, I learned so much about empowerment and community organizing, the city of Prescott and its councilmembers and organizations, and what it takes to plan events like Earth Day,” stated Annie.
“Much of my personal research is on environmental and social justice issues, environmental law, and expansions of sustainable living practices and how to make them inclusive to every person.” Annie is currently working on finding ways to use her passion for art to further environmental and social activism and awareness. “Art in any form is a really powerful way to communicate with people and issues can cause a stressful build-up that I find art helps me express,” shares Annie.
Now in her senior year in the Environmental Studies program at Prescott, she fully understands that the problems we are causing on the planet will affect us greatly as humans and she wants to understand how and why these things are occurring as well as how to change that. “I have immense gratitude for the Earth and know that we can all thrive without harming the planet anymore. Through my studies I have kept expanding into more diverse topics because everything is so interconnected and that is really exciting to me,” added Annie.
As she enters the MS in Resilient and Sustainable Communities program through the Accelerated Masters program, Annie is excited to make positive change locally and expand from there—whether that be through working with municipalities, educational institutions, private organizations, or grassroots groups. “I also am interested in building and strengthening communities and believe that the MRSC program will provide me with the knowledge I was looking for—not to mention the advantages Prescott offers through accelerated degree programs,” shared Annie.
“The career path I am moving towards is one that integrates social justice, environmental respect, and economic stability on a small scale so that people can progress with me to a world where those qualities are large-scale.”