University of Minnesota Duluth
University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota Duluth
UMD Sustainability

Mindy Granley


Position: Director

245 Kirby Plaza, Student Life Offices
+1 (218) 726 8198

Mindy Granley grew up in the outdoors, just north of Duluth, MN. Most of her childhood days were spent in the woods, observing water flow and freeze and thaw in the forests surrounding her home. This inspired her to study hydrogeology in undergraduate school (B.S. in Geology/Hydrogeology, University of Minnesota-Duluth), work on runoff and sediment data collection in the Arctic Circle (via the University of Massachusetts Amherst) and to study nutrient dynamics and water quality of Valley Creek, a high-quality trout stream in southeastern Washington County (M.S., Water Resources Science, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities).

Favorite thing about working in the Sustainability Office: Connecting UMD students with projects that help reduce waste and save energy on campus and knowing that their exposure to sustainability will follow them into whatever career field they venture into.  Helping include sustainability concepts in student projects, coursework, or research.  Communicating the sustainable changes my UMD colleagues have made in campus operations.  Planning for future changes on campus that will reduce our carbon emissions.

Why sustainability is important: The biggest reason sustainability is important to me is because I care about the future of my friends, family and people around the world. We all depend on the Earth’s environment to provide clean air, drinkable water, food and a stable climate. However, these environmental systems are impacted by the choices we make every day in society: what we buy, what powers us, what we throw away, what we use. Balancing environmental impacts while meeting the needs of society in an economically efficient way is a big challenge, but it is one we have to face in order to sustain our lives and our future.

Responsibilities: My job is to help inspire and coordinate sustainability efforts, communicate our progress, and assess the changes UMD is making to be more sustainable.


Ryan Hueffmeier

1-DSC02433Position: Sustainability Education Coordinator (25% time), NRRI

Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI)
5013 Miller Trunk Highway
Duluth MN, 55811

I’m interested in understanding the components that make up sustainability in a diverse research facility such as the NRRI. For example I’m interested in understanding the processes that lead to behavior change, defining research questions that move a sustainability initiative forward, or building sustainability into the research process itself.

Why sustainability is important: We reside on a spinning rock with finite resources and that alone
should demand the wise use of those resources. The most compelling reason for me to be a good
steward though is the next generation. Furthermore, sustainability research by its very nature builds
Interdisciplinary teams that are finding creative ways to utilize and preserve our natural resources
while developing an informed citizenry and creating solid economies that ultimately lead to sustainable communities.

Brinda Dewan

BrindaDPosition: Sustainability Education Assistant


Brinda Dewan is a Graduate student at the Environmental Education Program at UMD. She is an International student from Nepal and loves to explore the outdoors in her free time. She is passionate about helping young children get engaged in environmentally friendly practices and getting close to nature.

Why sustainability is important: Sustainability is important to me, because it is time that we started taking care of our planet before it is too late. As a very famous saying says “We Do Not Inherit the Earth from Our Ancestors; We Borrow It from Our Children”

Project: My role as a member of the UMD Sustainability Office is to plan education and outreach events and campaigns. I also design learning outcomes and educational lessons to engage students both on-campus and in the community around sustainability issues.

Madelaine Sinclair


Position: Sustainability Assistant

Major: Finance and German Studies

Background: I am a sophomore at UMD and grew up in Great Falls, Montana. I have worked previously with my peers on promoting sustainability by serving as secretary of the Student Sustainability Coalition. I am currently working with the SUN (Solar University Network) Delegation on learning about how solar power can be more influential here on campus. Additionally, I am a student member of the UMD Storm Water Steering Pollution Prevention board.

Why sustainability is important: Sustainability is important to me because it revolves around the community coming together to discuss topics that effect us all. Often, people do not realize how the small alterations we make in our everyday lives can have a substantial impact on our community and environment.

Project:  I help create plan events to advocate for sustainability around the campus and community. I focus on both social media, web updates, and working with students and faculty in UMD Housing & Residence Life to encourage sustainable choices everyday on campus.

Cassandra Ortberg

DSCN0060 (3)

Position: Sustainability Energy Assistant

Major: Environmental Science

Background: Cassandra is a Senior at UMD and loves cooking, country music, traveling to new places and almost any outdoor activities. Duluth has been one of Cassie’s favorite cities since she was a little girl and she is thrilled to be learning more about sustainability in such a beautiful and unique area. She has always been passionate about sustainability and has specific interests in renewable energy.

Why sustainability is important to me:  We live on a beautiful planet that has provided us with the resources necessary for life. In return, it is our job not to abuse that gift and to work constructively with the Earth to maintain our delicate ecosystem and the health of both our planet and its people.

What I do: Assist in planning and creating educational materials and events for the UMD campus, specializing in energy progress and issues.

Victor Chuol

Position: Sustainability Web and Social Media Assistant

Major: I am a Sophomore at UMD, studying Computer Science with a minor in Math.

Background:  In addition to working at the Office of Sustainability, I also work in the Swenson College of Science and Engineering Outreach office as a student worker, and the UMD Statesman as a Business & Logistics Intern. I was born in Nairobi, Kenya. My family and I moved to Minnesota in 2003 and I grew up in Rochester, MN. I enjoy being outdoors and listening to music in my free time.

Why sustainability is important: Sustainability is important to me because its main focus, in my opinion, is a shared responsibility for our surroundings. I am also a very logical thinker and I think that it’s only logical that our society becomes more responsible and starts working towards ways to produce the same goods & provide the same services in cleaner ways. There are smarter and cleaner ways to do things but getting rid of a bad habit is always challenging.

Kasey Smith

Kasey SmithPosition: Sustainability and Waste Management Intern

Major: Public Health Education and Promotion

Background: I am a senior in Public Health Education and Promotion here at UMD. Some of my favorite things are traveling, being outside, working out, and being with friends. I am from a small town called Faribault, but will be living in the cities after I graduate this spring. My favorite food is a banana and my favorite drink is green tea.

Why sustainability is important to me: Sustainability is important to me because it provides us with everyday needs. If our world keeps using and consuming without being mindful, our children and generations after that will suffer from severely polluted air, scarce water supply and more. If we can make one change at a time and educate individuals and communities to come together and make a difference I think we can help reduce and prevent future sustainability issues. One of my favorite quotes from Ghandi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

What I do: Planning and coordinating programs dealing with waste reduction on UMD campus.

Makenzie Lamphere

Position: Sustainability Assistant

Major: Public Health Education and Promotion

Background: My name Is Makenzie Lamphere and I am a senior at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Some of my interest are exploring new places, thinking of new creative ideas, cooking, and hanging with friends. I also have a huge heart for animals and keeping the environment clean and safe.

Why sustainability is important to me: Over the past couple years, I have grown a passion for taking care of the environment along with showing others how easy it can be. I have always been interested in air pollution and climate change as it affects both the environment and human health. My goal is to help spread to others the importance of keeping this environment clean and safe to make it better each and every day.

What I do: Assist in planning and creating educational outreach programs and events on UMD campus dealing with waste reduction.

Alex Nelson

AlexNelson_HeadshotPosition: Sustainability Data Assistant

Major: Urban and Regional Studies, with an emphasis on spatial analysis

Background: Alex Nelson is a Junior at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. In addition to working at the Office of Sustainability he works for facilities management as a custodian as well as the Geospatial Analysis Center as a GIS technician. He was raised in the twin cities and has traveled widely throughout the United States.

Why sustainability is important to me: Environmental sustainability is critical to maintaining a habitable Earth and a just global society. Unless we alter contemporary urban practices we are unlikely to find sustainability in our environment, society or economies. I am excited to work with the Office of Sustainability so that I may critically analyze the campus and develop skills that can be applied to larger urban systems.

What I do: As an intern with the Office of Sustainability I am investigating campus waste management practices. I will be looking for areas where design changes can be made, both upstream and downstream, to promote recycling and composting. I will combine my experience working for facilities management with geospatial analysis methods to find ways to make these systems operate more effectively.

Corey Pletsch

IMG_1093Position: Student Researcher; Sustainability Outreach Specialist at the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI)

Background: Corey grew up in Minnetonka, MN. Frequent visits to the north shore and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area resulted in his love for the environment and for the city of Duluth. Witnessing the interactions between the environment and people led him to study Environment Sustainability and Geography. Understanding why someone wants to protect or use the environment is just as important as actually protecting that area. Interactions between every animal or organism must be taken into account before there can be long-term positive implications on our planet.

Why sustainability is important: Sustainability requires a diversified thought process. A problem is caused by more than one reason, and can be solved by combining different solution. There are many problems resulting from the human race’s ability to put one individual’s goals above everyone else. Learning to work together in order to sustain our resources for future generations is the backbone of sustainability. The ability to work alongside, instead of trying to control, nature and our environment is also important. The economical, social, political and environmental issues are all intertwined with one another and all factors must be focused on equally.

What I do: Currently conducting research on waste management, sustainability outreach and recycling habits at NRRI. This includes making the recycling program as efficient as possible, communicating with employees on any issues or ideas they have, and measuring the changes in waste output of in the building. One of the main goals is to show people how little changes in their daily habits can have massive positive effects on the environment and the surrounding communities. Another goal is to create an efficient work plan for the building that will be continually used by future students/staff. Finally, the most significant goal of mine is to show individuals the importance of using less and reducing their production of waste.

Austin Paul


Position: Sustainability Waste and Recycling Assistant

Major: Public Health Education and Promotion

Background: I am a senior at UMD majoring in Public Health Education and Promotion with a minor in Environment and Sustainability. I like to spend my free time outdoors whether it be taking a hike up the North Shore, playing sports with friends, or snowboarding at spirit mountain. When i’m not outdoors you can find me spending my free time cooking, watching sports, hanging out with friends or my cat Nemo.
Why sustainability is important: Sustainability is important to me because with population on the rise our planet can no longer keep up with our current demand for coal, oil, and natural gas. We must all transition to a more sustainable lifestyle to save our planet that has given so much to us. I believe that such a transition would also increase the health and happiness of individuals throughout the world.
What I do: Assist in planning and creating educational and outreach programs dealing with waste reduction.

Chris Gass


Position: Waste Analysis and Recycling Intern

Major: Environmental and Sustainability Studies, GIS minor

Background: Chris hails from Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where he was born and raised. Currently a junior at UMD, he is actively engaged in studies and related undergraduate projects to promote sustainability and environmental consciousness. His patronage to the environment started at a young age where he often spent substantial amounts of time outdoors both with friends and family. He feels that in all his exploring and playing outside, he grew an appreciation for the natural world which has continued to grow into a deeply committed passion and interest.. He aims to educate, advocate, and foster the importance the environment holds for society throughout his career and hopes to instill related passion into others. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and baking with friends, biking, running, playing guitar, riding and caring for his motorcycle, and most of all learning.

Why sustainability is important: Sustainability, by definition, is the ability to last or endure for an extended period of time. To me, this should inherently be the continuing goal of any given community or individual. It only makes sense to strive for lasting existence and any action thereby contradicting that notion would be counterintuitive. Additionally to this, from what I have found and learned, our ability to live fruitfully and happily directly relates to the state of our surrounding ecosystem. When it is stressed or exhausted, our communities suffer as all materials and commodities come exclusively from the earth. Hence, managing our give and take relation with the natural world is crucial for our long term success.

What I do: My work at the Sustainability Office is reviewing waste habits on campus and forming a foundation in how outreach and education efforts can best be done. Specifically speaking, I, along with other members of the office, am conducting waste audits of trash bins and compiling the data to see how passersby are disposing of material. This is data can then be used to address and curtail poor waste behaviors at given locals.


Celebrating Earth Day 2016!

Former staff and interns of the UMD Office of Sustainability

UMD Sustainability
The UMD Sustainability website is administered by the University of Minnesota Duluth's Office of Sustainability.
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