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Alums Share How They "Care for Our Common Home" at Laudato Si' Panel

On Wednesday, February 15, a panel of four alums in environmental work shared how they "care for our common home" and put the wisdom of Pope Francis' Laudato Si' into action each day. Kaley Beins '10, Environmental Working Group Senior Scientist, Caroline Whitehead '94, Marketing Manager: Federal Research and Analysis, Olivia Fielding ‘16, Program Coordinator at International Peace Institute, and Christine Estes ‘95, Water Resources Engineer spoke to students on the Nolan Center stage, with questions moderated by Rick Thomas, AP Environmental Science teacher.

  • Beins' work focuses on consumers and research on chemicals and safety. She previously had worked with Thomas in a prior role. 
  • Fielding's work at a think tank helps her connect science to the political sphere, considering how climate change affects conflict in the world.
  • Whitehead translates federal policy into actionable language for her company. 
  • Estes was inspired by rain garden work at UVA to become a water resources engineer; now in project management, she's most excited about working with DC to build a better storm water infrastructure.

"It's an exciting time to be in this industry," said Whitehead, noting the legislation at work to protect the environment.

"Conditions are getting worse, but I work with intelligent, smart people. They are passionate," said Estes. "There are new techniques every day. We are using our brains to solve these problems, and that makes me hopeful."

Beins recommended students "look for actions we can take as individuals ... Being able to take them yourself assuages yourself from the overwhelming doom that can be a part of climate conversations," she said.

"The planet is our planet," said Fielding. "If something happens on the other side of the world, that does not personally affect me, but I feel a sense of urgency."

All panelists encouraged students to research and educate themselves on the issues related to the environment.

"Spend more time outside," Estes recommended. "The more time we spend outside in nature, the more we can get passionate about the environment."

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