The EcoFellow Experience: Avery Cross

Hello! My name is Avery Cross, and I am an EcoFellow at the Center for EcoTechnology. Working primarily in Program Operations, my main role is to assist the waste-reduction and energy-efficiency programs that CET offers.  In addition, the EcoFellowship allows me to help with community outreach and education, marketing projects, and innovative projects throughout the organization.

I graduated from Bard College last spring with a degree in Environmental and Urban Studies. I appreciated my program’s interdisciplinary approach to understanding the environment and I was immediately drawn to CET’s similar approach to working toward sustainability, always considering the social, scientific, and economic dimensions of environmental issues and their solutions. Previously, I worked for the sustainability office at my college, and I have worked on three farms and a variety of gardening sites (both in the fields and doing educational, outreach work). It is important for me for me to know that my work benefits both the earth and the people living on it. The EcoFellowship has allowed me to pursue this goal and this has been both personally and professionally meaningful.

How I Spend My Time

I spend most of my time doing research and analysis projects, making sure our program resources are up-to-date and credible. Most of my work is to assist RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts, a recycling assistance program that CET administers for the MassDEP that helps businesses and institutions maximize recycling, reuse, and food waste diversion opportunities. My work also supports the MassDEP program THE GREEN TEAM. THE GREEN TEAM is an educational program that helps students and teachers implement waste reduction programs at their schools.

When I’m not working within these programs I have the opportunity to get involved in a variety of different projects across the organization. I enjoy working with the community outreach and education team at events. These events vary greatly, from holding how-to-compost workshops to tabling at festivals to provide information on the services CET offers. CET’s mission to “make green make sense,” holds true as we work with a diverse range of people, from business owners, to residents, to institutions such as schools and hospitals. By understanding what different people’s needs are, we can design and implement the sustainable solutions that work for them. This is an incredibly important skill, especially in today’s changing climate. The EcoFellowship is teaching me how to work well with different players and stakeholders in order to effectively reduce waste and save energy.

My Favorite Project

My favorite project was helping update the food waste estimation guide published on the RecyclingWork in Massachusetts website. To do this effectively I had to understand the scientific literature on food waste, and then assess the existing research on how much food waste businesses and institutions produce. Through this research I learned about the different stages of food recovery: from reducing food waste at the source, food donation, composting, and beyond. After my research and analysis, I made suggestions for how to update the guide to make sure it was as comprehensive and accurate as possible. My supervisor has been a great help to me along the way, providing me with resources and giving me constructive feedback. My suggested changes will be presented to the MassDEP in the near-future, and then published for public use. Learning how to estimate food waste generation in order to help people divert it from the landfill has been a great experience!

Professional Development

The EcoFellows are lucky to be given great professional development and networking opportunities throughout our time at CET. Our supervisors regularly schedule tours, conferences, and workshops for us to attend, and we are encouraged to find our own opportunities as well. I really enjoyed getting a tour of Martin’s Farm, one of CET’s partners, where the owner, Adam Martin, showed us how he successfully and sustainably composts at an industrial-scale. I also loved participating in the C2C Sustainability Leadership Workshop held at Bard College in New York, where we learned about sustainability careers, practiced coming up with ideas and pitching them to an audience, and networked with other young, passionate, environmental professionals. The range of opportunities that the EcoFellowship has provided me has been essential to my professional development over the last year. I have had the opportunity to meet many environmental leaders and I continue to learn about the countless and creative ways to engage in environmental work.

The EcoFellowship position is a great transition between college and career and I continue to learn and grow each and every day. The staff at CET are friendly, helpful, and hard-working, and I genuinely enjoy my work at CET. I am incredibly thankful for the experience to make a measurable impact on the community around me, and I encourage anyone interested in environmental sustainability to apply.

 

Applications for EcoFellowship class of 2018-2019 are open now! Apply today!

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