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Environmental March Madness Tournament: CSU Profile & Q&A

As part of our sponsorship of Enviance’s first-ever Environmental March Madness Tournament for environmental studies, Environmental Leader is publishing Enviance-penned profiles of the winning schools as well as Q&As with students from the individual programs. Congratulations to Rochester Institute of Technology, Colorado State University, Purdue and overall winner Colby College.

Name: Josh Alley
School: Colorado State University
Major: B.S. in Agricultural Sciences, emphasis in International Soils, Minor in Global Environmental Sustainability and International Development

Colorado State University (CSU) features one of the most comprehensive academic, research, and outreach programs for environmental studies in the country. Providing over 100 majors and with environmental concentrations in 31 of its 55 departments, CSU encourages campus-wide participation in environmental science and management. Thanks to interdisciplinary research, teaching and service, the University’s environmental science program is constantly improving and providing amazing hands-on learning opportunities to its students.

As a result of its program’s excellence, CSU placed in the Final Four of Enviance’s first-ever Environmental March Madness Tournament for environmental studies, designed to evaluate colleges and universities on their academic and sustainability prowess as it relates to the environment. To advance in the tournament, each university relied on its faculty and students to submit photos, essays and videos explaining why their university should be crowned the National Champion. One of the students who helped CSU advance to the final round was Josh Alley.

Growing up between the beaches of Miami, FL and his great grandfather’s farm in Tennessee gave Josh both an appreciation for varying ecosystems and a connection with the environment. Josh was drawn to agriculture and fishing and that environmental connection that would later resurface when he began considering a new career path.

After taking an 18 year hiatus from school to pursue carpentry, Josh, who was then living and working in Fort Collins, CO, began looking into courses at CSU. Ultimately, the school’s diverse course offerings, excellent facilities and for a strong environmental studies program convinced Josh that CSU was the right place for him.

Josh is majoring in Agricultural Sciences with an emphasis in International Soils and a minor in Global Environmental Sustainability and International Development. He is most interested in agriculture as he believes it defines, transforms, frees, and binds countries. After graduating, Josh is looking to pursue at least one graduate degree before starting a sustainable development consulting firm with a focus on coastal Latin America and the Caribbean.

We took some time to speak with Josh to hear more about his experience at CSU, his thoughts on the Environmental March Madness Tournament, the future of environmental legislation, and much more.

Q: What was the reaction from you and your peers after Colorado State was named to the Final Four?

Josh Alley: I was thrilled and proud. It was a nice pat on the back for our programs which are driven by a passion for our world.

Q: Why do you think your school did so well?

JA: CSU has a long tradition of work within natural resources, biology, agriculture, engineering, ecology, and social sciences. This gives our university a strong background in all aspects related to the environment, thus attracting talented students and faculty who were able to share that experience and excitement.

Q: What projects have you been most passionate about working on while at Colorado State?

JA: I have been most passionate about my position as director of the Student Sustainability Center and our work on the student powered, all organic, Student Sustainable Garden on campus.

At the center, we work with various groups both on and off campus. We regularly host events, films, workshops, and clinics to educate and engage both our student population and the surrounding community. As a student organization we identify initiatives that will have the greatest impact and then carry the ideas through development to implementation. Often these initiatives are collaborations with other groups that are seeking the resources they need to implement their own programs and projects.

Q: Do you think they will play a role in your future career?

JA: Most definitely, I am already able to work on many of the types of programs that I envision for my future on a smaller and less risky scale; learning by doing.

Q: What would be an ideal job for you after you graduate?

JA: Working with the U.N. on sustainable development.

Q: If you had to pick one positive impact you could make on the environment, what would it be?

JA: The reinvention of agriculture as something to which all of us are intimately connected. The way that we think about our food reveals a lot about how we perceive ourselves.

Q: If you could pick one piece of environmental legislation, real or hypothetical, to be passed in the next five years, what would it be and why?

JA: Agricultural Land Reform. It could completely change the way we think about land ownership/value and have a global effect in shifting our present export of agricultural practices.

Q: What advice do you have for students researching environmental studies programs?

JA: Look for universities/institutions that address environmental issues from all three aspects of sustainability; social equity, environment, and economic. These three aspects are so intimately connected that long-term solutions cannot be realized without addressing all three equally.

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