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Community Spotlight: Q&A with Tanya Zarling

Who are you?

My name is Tanya, and I am a student in the Environmental Studies program at PSU. I moved to Portland three years ago from Wisconsin to surround myself with the beauty that the mountains, forests, and oceans of the Pacific Northwest have to offer! As you may have guessed, in my spare time I enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, snowboarding, and surfing.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently a member of the Leadership Team for Student Fellows of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions. With the Leadership Team, I am collaborating with the other Student Fellows to create sustainable connections, networking opportunities, and professional development events for students. I’m also the president and co-founder of the PSU Veg Education Group student organization on campus, whose goal is to educate our campus community on the health, environmental, and ethical benefits of plant-based eating.

What’s the one thing you want the sustainability community to know about what you’re doing?

I’d like the sustainability community to know that I am always focused on what the Student Fellows need to ensure their time at PSU is beneficial to their current or future careers in sustainability. I thrive on the opportunity to help others through their own journey at PSU, because I know just how difficult it can sometimes be. I’m always interested in discovering ways to build our community and make it stronger. If you see me around campus, please say hi and let me know how the Student Fellows can help you on your own path to a career in sustainability!

What’s your favorite thing about being a part of Portland State?

I enjoy the fact that at Portland State I can be surrounded by like-minded individuals to discuss issues relating to the various aspects of sustainability in our community. My experiences at PSU have presented me with opportunities to develop a greater understanding of the interconnected aspects of sustainability. I’m constantly learning from my peers about how environmental, social, and economic sustainability issues always go hand in hand. I’m able to broaden my perspectives and look at a problem from a different light in order to find solutions and create progress. I now understand that it is through the driven minds of passionate individuals concerned with each area of sustainability that we can create long-lasting solutions for our community and the world.

What sustainability issues are you most concerned with?

I’m concerned with a wide array of environmental sustainability issues, but my main concerns relate to sustainable food systems and the ways our food impact the health of our environment. I’m also very interested in environmental concerns and resource management of developing countries. I recently took a trip to Laos and discovered a place where I could really interpret what I’ve learned about social, economic, and environmental sustainability to analyze issues that are occurring there right now. For example, the country is attempting to develop economically through the use of selling power generated by hydroelectric dam projects on their main river, the Mekong. I’m interested in how such a poor nation can develop in a globalizing world without experiencing the inevitable harm to their environment in the process. It is with this perspective I'd like to take with me into my career pursuits to work with developing countries and their environmental issues.