Introducing Shayna Steingard

— This article was originally printed in the Winter/Spring 2017 issue of our newsletter, The Twig. See a PDF of the complete newsletter.

I was raised in Phoenix, AZ, and attended the honors college at Arizona State University. I loved my science classes and sought out the courses that explored sustainability, the environment, and environmental justice. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, a minor in Nonprofit Administration, and a certificate in Environmental Humanities.

After graduation I was accepted into Teach For America. During my two years of service, I had the privilege of teaching physical and biological sciences to over 400 students, kindergarten through eighth grade, in downtown Kansas City. While teaching, I earned a Master of Elementary Education from the University of Missouri, St. Louis.

Ultimately, teaching in the inner city pushed me back toward environmental work because I saw how the impacts of environmental injustice compound and exacerbate educational inequality. I moved to Bloomington this fall to attend the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IU. In two years, I will graduate with a Master of Science in Environmental Science and a Master of Public Affairs. In my future career, I aim to help craft holistic environmental policy that incorporates and supports marginalized communities.

I also get to spend my time in Bloomington working as the Communications Fellow for Sycamore Land Trust, which upholds the shared value of protecting the environment forever and for everyone. I’m excited to help protect and restore land in southern Indiana, and particularly excited to improve my birding and naturalist skills, since my coworkers are birding pros. It’s inspiring to work at an organization with an established culture and legacy of environmental action.

We live that tradition every day at work, where our office is in the former home of Helen and Lynton Keith Caldwell, who helped author the first National Environmental Policy Act. At our recent open house, I snuck a chance to sit at Executive Director Christian Freitag’s desk, where Mr. Caldwell drafted portions of NEPA. It’s a salient reminder of why I’m here, the work to be done, and the potential to positively impact the environment.