Sustainability capstone and internship boost student expertise
Author: Laura Gleim, Institute for Sustainable Solutions
Posted: June 14, 2012

Steven Hoon wasn’t always an environmentalist. After graduating high school in Southern California, he moved to Portland to try his hand as a surgical tech—but decided hospitals weren’t for him. So he changed schools to study business, then switched to computer networking. He finally found his fit in 2010 at Portland State: environmental studies.

“I sort of just developed a passion for it,” Hoon said.
“I started going to farmers markets for the first time while in Portland. I had not even heard of the concept when living in Southern California.”

Now as a senior preparing to graduate, Hoon has a
host of real-life conservation experience under his belt.

The Sustainable Northwest Policy Team. From left to
right: Alice Willamson, Dylan Kruse, Steven Hoon,
Maia Enzer, Rachel Plawecki.

Last summer, Hoon participated in the Food Democracy and Sustainability capstone course at Portland State. Students in the capstone worked with low-income community members and the Housing Authority of Clackamas County to develop a new compost system for the Clackamas Heights Community Garden.

And for the past five months, Hoon has been working as an intern with Sustainable Northwest through PSU’s Careers in Sustainability program, which is funded by the Institute for Sustainable Solutions.

Sustainable Northwest is a local nonprofit that works with rural communities to advance conservation-based economies in the West. In addition to managing Sustainable Northwest’s newsletter, Hoon has been instrumental in a variety of other community-engagement projects, including the Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition Annual Policy Meeting in March. The meeting drew 145 people from 15 states across the country to discuss conservation and rural economic development issues.

“We’re trying to be very inclusive and get as many perspectives as possible,” Hoon said.

After graduation, Hoon hopes to continue working with environmental policy, and credits his internship with Sustainable Northwest for helping him learn about possibilities in this field.

“The people there are really in to what they’re doing, they’re genuine.”