The Keys to Sustainability with Dr. Holly Myers
by Sam Farabaugh - Sustainability Intern
The Eco-Hero Spotlight is an initiative started by Campus Sustainability to actively seek out and recognize individuals or groups that make an eco-friendly impact on BGSU. Anyone can be an Eco-Hero, so long as they are willing to do what it takes to promote sustainability. In this month's newsletter, our Eco-Hero is BGSU’s Dr. Holly Myers. She has been a professor at BGSU in the School of Earth, Environment and Society for over 20 years now and has been very impactful to BGSU students.
Being a child of the late 60s and growing up amidst a world of change, Dr. Holly Myers was surrounded by the environmental movement from a young age. It wasn’t until college, however, that she truly started to become passionate about environmentalism. During graduate school at University of Washington in Seattle, she says the environmental movement had grown so much that the university made it easy to support it. She remembers her time in Seattle very fondly, including the bike paths throughout the city and the supportive, eco-friendly community.
Dr. Myers has been working at BGSU since 1996, not only as a professor, but as an advisor to the Environmental Action Group for a number of years, a faculty representative for the GreenFund Committee for the past 9 years, a facilitator to service-learning projects, field trips, Bowling Green Alternative Breaks, and a volunteer to Wood County Parks over the years. Her favorite part of these experiences was seeing the involvement and passion for the environment from the students. She also liked seeing the changes they were able to make on campus as she says, “I just like feeling a part of the community.” She would always meet fun people at the volunteer opportunities, and it gave her a chance to take time outside that day.
She has taught many environmental policy courses, including Introduction to Environmental Studies, Environmental Planning, and Environmental Justice. Dr. Myers can see a future of many jobs in the environmental planning field. Additionally, she sees environmental justice as a very important class as it is “at the heart of sustainability.” She believes that people should understand all aspects of sustainability, an important one being equity. We should do this through looking at the environment; improving people’s lives stems from improving our relationship with the environment first and foremost.
Dr. Myers thinks that climate change is our most pressing environmental issue, and one that can be significantly changed if we put more of our focus on alternative, renewable energy. She can see a future where renewable energy creates more jobs, safer working conditions, and adds to richer lives. She explained that current situations of coal workers are unsafe and lead to cancer or other health issues. These communities that rely on coal have shorter life spans and workers are at a higher risk of death at their jobs. If we create an economic base independent of coal and develop more alternative energy, these communities can become richer, safer, and more sustainable.
Educated on a wide range of sustainability topics, Dr. Myers has a lot of advice to give about being sustainable but is able to keep it simply stated with, “Just do it.” In her personal life, Dr. Myers keeps a composting bin and does what she can to be sustainable, like driving less when possible, gardening, recycling, and bundling trips. She encourages students who live close to campus to bike as much as they can instead of driving.
Looking at the current generation and the future of the environment, Dr. Myers sees promise in Gen Z and hopes that they are able to find compromises with people in power. She thinks getting involved within our communities and regaining that communication and opportunity to raise awareness about issues would help us put our heads together to come up with the best compromises. Our human actions affect humans, so it is important to see the linkages between our actions and public health. As we know, “You can’t fool Mother Earth.” Dr. Myers encourages us all to do what we can, even if it’s small or at the local level, to sustainably improve our quality of life.
Thank you, Dr. Myers, for being an Eco-Hero and for all that you have done to teach and model sustainability at BGSU.