Leslie is a professor in the Environmental Science and Policy Department at SOU. She got her BA from Stanford University, with a major in Cultural and Social Anthropology and a minor in Psychology. She has a Master’s degree in Env Science and Management from UC Santa Barbara. Leslie has worked an assortment of jobs that relate to environmental science. She worked in Outdoor Education as an Outward Bound Wilderness Instructor and Watch Officer. She taught on traditional tall ships, crewing, and for semesters at sea. She sailed from Maine to Venezuela in a schooner for over one year. It was epic! As Leslie started working more on boats, she got interested in supporting science and got a job on an NOAA Oceanographic Research Vessel in Alaska. After grad school, Leslie got more involved with policy and worked on Capitol Hill in the US Senate for a year, then went to work for the National Marine Sanctuary Program, both in Santa Barbara and then San Francisco.
When connecting Leslie’s work and life to sustainability, Leslie aims to make little changes every day, such as riding her bike around Ashland, sourcing her produce and meat from local CSAs (The Farm at SOU of course!), and even leaving textbooks behind and moving to OERs (online e-readers). Leslie aspires to do the best she can and support students in their aspirations to being more sustainable. Leslie fills many roles when engaging with sustainability at SOU. She is on the Sustainability Council at SOU. She also serves on the Mt. Ashland Environment and Sustainability Committee and is the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commissioner. All of these positions help her connect to SOU and with the community to ensure sustainability is addressed on several levels.
Leslie’s favorite part about working with SOU is the students! She loves teaching ES 408: EcoAdventure series, which combines academic studies with field trip adventures all around the Rogue Valley and beyond. Students have camped in the Redwoods, whitewater paddled the Rogue and Smith Rivers, climbed volcanoes in Lassen National Park, snowshoed on Mt. Shasta, and spent summers in Costa Rica and Mexico. Leslie is an outstanding professor and wonderful active citizen. SOU is grateful to have her!
Rianna Koppel majors in Environmental Policy and Science, and she is an at-large member of the Environmental Affairs Committee at SOU. Rianna works for the Ashland Food Co-op as the Sustainability Coordinator, and at True South Solar as an administrative assistant. Rianna is also a regional organizer for the Oregon Clean Energy Campaign, which is helping to advocate for clean energy bills during the 2021 Oregon legislative session. Rianna’s work connects with sustainability at SOU because as a student, she wants to write more proposals for solar arrays at SOU.
A current project Rianna is working on with the Environmental Affairs Committee is with Becs Walker, SOU’s Sustainability Manager, to put a solar array on the barn at the SOU Farm. The Farm was awarded a grant for this project from the Oregon Department of Energy, and there is a $5,000 incentive from the City of Ashland. This solar array will be funded by the Department of Energy grant, the city incentive, and the Green Fund. Rianna is looking forward to more solar projects after this one! There are many opportunities to put more solar all over the SOU campus.
We asked Rianna what is an aspect of SOU’s values and approaches to sustainability and Rainna says, “I appreciate SOU’s growing educational focus on the indigenous peoples of America. Intersectional sustainability must include native history as well as address current, regional projects that have impacts on tribes today, for example, the LNG pipeline proposal or eventual Klamath Dam removal. I am happy to be a student at a university that values sustainable agriculture in practice just like at the SOU Farm. I’m also glad to work with staff like Becs Walker and professors like Vince Smith to work on projects that create lasting change at SOU.” Rianna is an excellent student and an active citizen in her area. Shout out to Rianna for being inspirational and motivating!
“Each one of us matters, has a role to play, and makes a difference. Each one of us must take responsibility for our own lives, and above all, show respect and love for living things around us, especially each other.”
~ Jane Goodall
Sustainability is not just about recycling and preserving natural resources, sustainability is also about taking care of the people who live on this Earth. There are many environmental crises impacting today’s planet, people, and economy, but more importantly, these crises are impacting marginalized communities the most. Environmental Equity means “protection from environmental hazards as well as access to environmental benefits, regardless of income, race, and other characteristics” (Gonzalez, Pierce. 2021). This includes integrating policies that support communities (specifically low-income households) to access clean technologies and infrastructure.
This is a difficult time for many communities suffering from racial injustice and environmental inequity. SOU wants to assure our campus and community that we are here for you and will provide the appropriate resources you need to stay safe and healthy. Follow the link below for SOU’s available resources.
Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Resources: https://edi.sou.edu/get-involved/