Samantha Theisen is the Sustainability Coordinator for the Environmental Resources Center at Purdue University Fort Wayne. She came to Purdue Fort Wayne after obtaining her Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) with a focus in Natural Resources Planning and Sustainable Energy. Her degree concentrated largely in Land Use Planning and Social and Policy Sciences.
“My heart is in higher education and I’m excited to be in a position that combines both my education and what I do in my free time. When I’m not in the office you can find me cooking, hiking, basking in the sun, binging reality TV shows, hammocking, or tending to my houseplants.”
Samantha has held several university setting positions during her time at UWSP and also has a wide array of experience in local government settings working on projects surrounding aquatic invasive species, brownfield redevelopment, bicycle and pedestrian route planning, agrotourism, nature-based recreation, and water quality monitoring, just to name a few. She is passionate about all things outdoors and preserving public open space so much that she lived a leave-no-trace lifestyle solely in U.S. National Parks for the first 5 months following graduation. She used this experience as a time to visit the backcountry of 22 national parks all while being an advocate of public lands and natural resource conservation. When you see her on campus or around the community, give her a warm welcome!
The ERC is assisting professor Sherrie Steiner and her Environmental Sociology students to produce maps of industrial sites and environmental hazards in Blackford County, 50 miles south of Fort Wayne. According to the 2013 County Health Rankings, Blackford County ranks 89 out of 92 for Health Outcomes. In particular, residents suffer from elevated rates of certain cancers and neurologic diseases. Residents formed Blackford County Concerned Citizens in 1999 over concerns about the county’s rates of cancer and neurological illnesses with a desire to improve the quality of life through citizen action to investigate the diseases that are prevalent and by advocating to have these diseases investigated. They recently partnered with Hoosier Environmental Council to assess the environmental health risks in the area.
There is a substantial industrial history in Blackford County beginning with the 1880s oil and gas boom. This has raised questions of whether there might be links between health and environmental conditions. With the assistance of the ERC, Steiner’s environmental sociology students will begin the process of mapping the industrial legacy of Blackford County. Using ArcGIS software, students will create a series of maps that depict the location of various industries over time, their industrial legacy, and the current buildings on those industrial sites.
“The mapping expertise that the university brings to this project are a tremendous benefit for the community,” said Dr. Indra Frank, the Hoosier Environmental Council’s environmental health project director. “This will help us have a clearer picture of possible environmental hazards.”
“This project has been collaboratively designed and implemented with our community partners,” said Sherrie Steiner, Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology at IPFW. “I am hoping that this experience will strengthen a sense of civic responsibility and personal efficacy within students and among members of the community as pertains to environmental engagement.”
Steiner’s unique class is made possible through the collaborative community efforts of Blackford County Concerned Citizens, Blackford County Historical Society, and Hoosier Environmental Council. This service learning course is made possible by the generous support from Indiana Campus Compact with matching funds from the IPFW Sociology Department. Opinions or points of view expressed here do not necessarily reflect the official position of Indiana Campus Compact.
With an apology to those who are getting this message in multiple ways (sorry), I want to point out the new link below (left) to the sign up for our email subscription list.
We will use this list to provide updates about our activities, periodic e-newsletters, upcoming events, environmentally related activities of others that we think might be of interest you, and opportunities to contribute.
I anticipate that we might send several messages per month, so traffic will not be great. And our subscription list will not be shared outside of the ERC.
You can also go to http://eepurl.com/bad3U9 to sign up if you prefer.
Please forward this information to anyone you think would be interested, and please let me know if you hit any glitches so I can fix them!!