When Abby Pardick '10 entered Knox College in fall 2006, she had her sights set on being a biology teacher and a growing interest in politics. By the end of her first year, she was a full-fledged environmental advocate with a career goal of working with non-profit organizations to educate minority communities on environmental issues.
What set Pardick's interests in politics and biology aflame and allowed her to see how they were connected was an Environmental Racism course taught by Professors Peter Schwarztman and Konrad Hamilton.
Class discussions about environmental injustices inspired Pardick to get involved with student environmental group KARES. She now serves on the President's Task Force for Sustainability.
In a spring 2008 at meeting of the Task Force, President Roger Taylor '63 signed the Talloires Declaraion, an institutional commitment to environmental sustainability that has been adopted by colleges and universities worldwide.
Pardick says students are on-board with sustainability initiatives on campus, such as using reusable take-out containers instead of styrofoam and eliminating trays in the College's dining facilities to cut back on food and water consumption. Students look forward to helping Knox get more green in other ways, too.
"It's exciting that there's so much feedback from students wanting to get involved," Pardick says
Pardick spends two hours each weekday gathering recyclables from campus housing, is working towards campus-wide composting and expansion of the campus recycling program, and spoke at the first-ever EquiKnox Picnic in fall 2008.
In Pardick's small hometown of Gibson City in Central Illinois, things like recycling were not a way of life. Discussions about climate change and alternative energies were rare.
"Growing up in a small town, you don't feel like you can make a change," Pardick says. "The realization that I could was a big one for me."
She is known among her peers at Knox for her environmental expertise and for advising and encouraging others to fall into habits that will make the Earth a better place for future generations.
"That's what the whole movement of sustainability is about -- falling into a habit and seeing the change," Pardick says.