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Entergy Supports Environmental Justice Scholars at Loyola

By Loyola University on Wed, 02/21/2024 - 11:58

Student scholars will partner with local organizations on applied research and service-learning projects

Generous funding from the Entergy Charitable Foundation will support the applied research and service learning projects of five promising students within Loyola University New Orleans’ acclaimed Environment program for a second academic year. As Environmental Justice Scholars, these five students will develop community engagement projects focused on improving environmental sustainability, resilience, and justice within the greater New Orleans area.

“Loyola Environmental Justice Scholars will partner with a local community organization to bridge the knowledge they are learning in their classrooms with what's happening in their community,” said Dr. Aimee K. Thomas, Biology professor in the Environment Program. “The Environmental Justice Scholars at Loyola are tomorrow’s environmental leaders.”

The Environmental Justice Scholars program is in its second year at Loyola. A call for proposals went out to all students in the Environment Program in the fall. Each had the opportunity to competitively apply for the honor of being selected as an Environmental Justice Scholar.

Katie Buc (ENVB ‘26) is a second-year student from Madison, Mississippi, where she spent weekends hiking the Natchez Trace Parkway nature trails developing a deeper appreciation for the environment. She will spend the next year studying sustainability and litter on campus and surrounding neighborhoods. Partnering with Mark Tobler, she will work to increase sustainability initiatives and reduce litter on campus through Keep Loyola Beautiful. She will also be working with the 50-year-old Loyola University Community Action Program (LUCAP) to coordinate community enhancement through beautification and restoration projects.
Together, Taiyah “Tai” Murphy (ENVH ‘24) a senior from Destrehan, Louisiana, and Jacqueline “Jackie” Mutter (ENVH ‘24), a senior from Grayslake, Illinois, will build upon research they began two years ago with Loyola Religious Studies professor, Dr. Anne Daniell, interviewing local artist-performers about their connections to healing, spirituality and the environment. Their goal is to continue to study and learn from these creatives, who describe their work as related to “healing” at the intersection of individuals, community, and the natural environment.  Their research project explores the lives of people who are unequally affected by environmental injustices and how their resilient responses contribute to the healing in their communities.
Hilary Nguyen (ENVB ‘24), a senior from Mobile, Alabama, has gained experience working with underrepresented communities by volunteering with local non-profit organizations such as Glass Half Full NOLA, Recirculating Farms, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, and more. Working as an Intern with Recirculating Farms, focused on food justice, Hilary will head up the new Food Forward program, a program that collects food from local restaurants and businesses and packages them up to give out to local communities. They will also be working on various outreach and community engagement programs with Recirculating Farms.

Elizabeth “Ellie” Redeman (ENVB ‘24) is a senior from Madison, Wisconsin, where she developed an appreciation for nature through gardening and working on sustainable organic farms, including spending a significant time as a WWOOFer (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) sharing in daily life with her host and learning about organic agriculture. She will spend the next year developing the community gardens on campus, working with Research Associate Mark Tobler and Iggy’s Cupboard to bring fresh produce to Loyola students, and coordinate volunteers to give students from all majors the opportunity to help make Loyola more sustainable.

The Entergy Charitable Foundation will provide these promising students stipends of $3,000 each for the 2024 academic year, for a total of $15,000. Each Environmental Justice Scholar must perform hours of community service and participate in educational, social, and cultural activities each month. As part of their service, students will communicate the goals and outcomes of the community engagement project through social media, blog posts, and a community presentation.

“Entergy has continuously funded our initiatives and research in the Loyola Environment Program since 2016, and they’ve been wonderful partners,” Thomas said. “We are grateful for their support.”