Leah Graham

As a student in the Environmental Studies Program , Leah Graham helped to organize and promote Ohio University’s annual RecycleMania program as part of her work as a graduate assistant with the Office of Sustainability . Now, she leads that program and several others at the University of Mount Union and Kent State University , where she works as sustainability outreach coordinator and outreach recycling coordinator respectively.

Sustainability outreach and environmental education have long been among Graham’s many passions. While a Master’s of Science in Environmental Studies student, Graham worked with biology professor Willem Roosenberg to research nesting habits and over-winter ecology of diamondback terrapin turtles. After she graduated in 2009, Graham went on to teach high school students about sea turtles and marine life as an instructor for several academic study abroad trips. Broadreach and Rustic Pathways, two prestigious study abroad programs, hosted these programs, which took Graham to Costa Rica, Vancouver, and Australia.

While at Ohio University and after her graduation, Graham had the chance to incorporate another passion into her work: art. Working with the Office of Sustainability gave Graham a chance to use her artistic creativity to enrich campus-wide campaigns for sustainability programs. After she graduated from the Environmental Studies Program, Graham spent time in Athens putting together her first combined art show, which was featured at Arts West. Graham also worked with the local NGO Rural Action through the AmeriCorps Program . When her time with AmeriCorps came to an end, Graham attended a scientific illustration program at the University of Washington, where she had the chance to further blend her interest in art with her interests in science and the environment.

Graham said what she learned in the Environmental Studies Program gave her an edge at the University of Washington and has strengthened the skills she has applied in all of her other pursuits. “It gave me background and research experience and information,” she said; “really everything I’m using today.”

Graham, who was back in Athens this fall for a Sustainability Summit, also had heavy praise for her advisors and professors at the Environmental Studies Program. She said the program community gave her constant energy and motivation.

“Just being around that energy and environment helped continue to propel me to do what I wanted to do,” she said. “It helped keep fueling my passion for a lot of different things.”

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