Student Spotlight: Grace Neumiller and the Environmental Humanities Student Advisory Board

The Environmental Humanities (EH) Student Advisory Board is a central component of the Center’s EH initiative. Student members work with the EH Program Coordinator Ayla Fudala to create editions of FAUNA, an EH literary and art magazine which showcases the work of talented student artists and writers. They also have the opportunity to meet with the EH Distinguished Fellow (in 2019, this was artist Mark Dion, and in the coming year, it will be author and activist Naomi Klein). Today we highlight Grace Neumiller ’21 (pictured left), who has been an active member of the EH Student Advisory Board since the spring 2019 semester. Grace is an Environmental Science major and English minor.

What encouraged you to first join the EH Student Advisory Board (SAB)?

I was very interested in EH. I first got interested at the end of my freshman year when I first took Assistant Professor of English Chris Walker’s “Environment and Society” course. I’d never thought about environmental issues from a humanities standpoint before. I talked to Chris and he encouraged me to join his “Intro to Environmental Humanities” course the fall of my sophomore year. Then Chris encouraged me to join the EH SAB.

What projects have you worked on as part of the SAB?

The project that sticks out to me the most was my sophomore year, when we first launched FAUNA. It was fun because we had a really engaged group of students. It was really cool getting the submissions from other students, and seeing how passionate they were about the same material. I loved the broad range of art and writing we received. It was really inspiring to see all the creative things people came up with.

I also had a lot of fun in my sophomore spring working on a semester long project in Chris Walker’s “Life in Times of Extinction” course. I was doing a project on black ash trees, on how they’re endangered by the emerald ash borer, and how Indigenous people use them to create these beautiful woven baskets. I wrote an article about it with Tommaso Wagner ‘19 and Keller Leet-Otley ‘19 for FAUNA. I was really proud when we put that in the magazine. We had such a cool platform for discussing these intersectional issues. Different versions of the black ash article were also published in local Maine newspapers. You can read one of these articles on “The County” website here.

How do you feel about the Environmental Humanities at Colby?

I love that Colby has such a large EH program. I talk to friends at other schools, and they’re intrigued by EH, but they don’t really know what it is, because their schools don’t offer it. I think it’s unique that we have dedicated EH faculty and staff. I’m super grateful that I’ve been exposed to this branch, this intersection of English and Environmental Science. It really rounds out my Environmental Studies education. I wish we had an EH major because I would definitely major in EH.

What are your plans for the future?

Ideally, I’d like to work for an environmental nonprofit, such as the Nature Conservancy or the Sierra Club—there are so many different organizations. I want to eventually go to grad school for ecology or ecosystem science. It would be cool to further explore the environmental humanities in grad school.

We are very grateful to all of the incredible work Grace has done as a member of the EH Student Advisory Board, and for her generosity in taking the time to share her experience. The SAB is still working to create new editions of FAUNA and enhance the Environmental Humanities at Colby. If you are interested in joining, please email EH Program Coordinator Ayla Fudala at [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you!