Get to Know: Jenny Washam

Categories: News

Meet Jenny Washam, engagement coordinator for the Office of Sustainability. Learn how she engages students on campus, and about the wolf howling trip she took.

How would you describe your role and responsibilities?
My primary role is to engage with students to raise awareness and create excitement about sustainability on campus. This involves organizing events and programs from hosting speakers to managing the Adopt-a-Spot litter clean up program for student organizations. I also lead ten paid student sustainability aides who help organize and promote events, and educate fellow students about sustainability.

What does your typical work day look like?
Every day looks different! Right now, my focus has been on organizing upcoming Earth Month events, which involves coordinating with speakers, campus partners and off-campus partners about event logistics, and strategizing the best way to promote and spread the word about these events. I send emails and meet with people about their roles in these events and get out on campus to reach as many people as I can.

What do you like most about your job?
I really enjoy getting to work with students to hear their perspectives and ideas. Our student sustainability aides always bring so much enthusiasm, insight and humor to their work and their passion to learn and grow as professionals is inspiring. Some of the most impactful people in my life were the leaders I had during my college experience, so it is very rewarding to serve as that leader to these students.

What interested you about getting into the field of sustainability?
I have always loved being outside. I grew up spending every second I could exploring the outdoors and taking in the beauty of creation around me. I also love to write and communicate about things I am passionate about. Throughout my time in school I tried to combine those two passions into a career path. With my degrees in environmental conservation, I ended up going down the path towards environmental communication, narrowing in on the need to clearly communicate the importance of properly taking care of our Earth for ourselves and future generations to enjoy, which is the overall idea of sustainability. This job allows me to share that personal passion and that idea of responsible stewardship to the next generation.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
“Be the light you want to see in the world,” is advice I have heard over and over again from mentors and leaders in my life. I try my best to live this out every day, with a goal to make at least one person’s day brighter in some way.

What is something you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy being outside in any capacity in my spare time. You can find me on my breaks walking through the Botanical Gardens on campus, or going for a run on the greenway after work. I also love exploring new cities and towns, trying new coffee shops and restaurants and going on evening walks with my husband.

What is something people may not know about you?
During my master’s capstone project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I worked with tribal communities in northern Wisconsin in their efforts to protect and conserve gray wolves. That project led me to my last job, where I had the chance to attend a wolf howling trip (wolf howling is a way to count wolves during the breeding season) and we heard an adult wolf and wolf pups respond! Definitely one of the top ten coolest experiences of my life.