Science & Discovery 

Cultivating a greener career

Environmental and sustainability studies Green Fund Interdisciplinary Global Programs Spanish

Genevieve Conley established the roots of her ambitions at Northern Arizona University.

She had planned on attending a different university with a different major, but she has treasured her time at NAU. “I think I’ve gotten an amazing education here and a really personalized education. I was able to create relationships with professors,” she said. “And I think—it’s cheesy—but everything happens for a reason. And I’m here for a reason.”

Integrating and advancing what she learned in her Environmental and Sustainability Studies and Spanish programs, Genevieve hopes to have a career in conservation and environmental policy. Her work at NAU demonstrates her passion for conservation and she has made a difference in many areas on campus.

As co-chair for NAU’s Green Fund—supported by a Green Fee from Flagstaff students—she helps determine, along with the Green Fund Committee, where those fee dollars will be allocated.

I feel really ready to go into the world after NAU.

Genevieve is proud of the projects the Green Fund has supported. A recent program aimed at reducing landfill waste allowed the fund to purchase and distribute non-waste menstrual cups for women. These cups are now available through Health Promotion at Campus Health Services.

For another project, Genevieve explained that the Green Fund hopes to obtain an energy-efficient refrigerator for Louie’s Cupboard, a campus food pantry that started out as a class assignment and is now a major service offered by the university.  

“I think it’s really important, in terms of social sustainability, to give students the opportunity—students, faculty, and staff all have access to Louie’s Cupboard—to have vegetables and meat, if they want it, that are fresh and not canned,” she said. “So, we’re working with them to get an environmentally friendly refrigerator this semester.”

Genevieve wearing a green NAU polo and listening intently

Beyond her interest in social justice on campus, Genevieve has broadened her experience with a year abroad in Argentina through NAU’s Interdisciplinary Global Programs (IGP). During the first six months, she studied biology at the Universidad Nacional de Tucumán and spent the second half of the program in an internship working in wetland ecosystems. “I was able to really immerse myself in the language and culture,” she said. “I think it was probably the most genuine study abroad experience I could have had.”

She credits a team for helping her through her undergraduate career, including Matthew Muchna, Manager of the Office of Sustainability, Clare Aslan, Associate Director of the Landscape Conservation Initiative (LCI), and numerous other mentors from IGP and LCI.  “I have been lucky to have a lot of support from many different people,” Genevieve said.

Her experiences at NAU have allowed Genevieve to be a leader. Not only has she co-chaired the Green Fund and led projects through that organization, she also started a club, Girls Teaching Girls, that partners with Killip Elementary School in Flagstaff and has students working on projects that promote women in STEM. “I think I found a passion in doing something that involves me doing the project, not just sitting on a computer, but talking with people and creating relationships and really seeing a project come alive,” Genevieve said. “So that—with my international experience—has really shaped who I am and given me the ability to move forward. And I feel really ready to go into the world after NAU.”

Student photographers at the Grand Canyon.