The first-ever team of Northland College eco-reps are on the job. They’ll be planning events, and boosting positivity, building community, and promoting individual sustainability.

“We want to shift the environmental focus from depressing to fun and empowering,” said senior Ellie Zimmer, who studies biology.

Their first event of the semester was an unplugged night of camping, lawn games, bonfire, s’mores, and hot drinks on the campus mall.

Funded by REFund, a student-administered grant program to enhance sustainability and increase energy efficiency on campus, Northland College last spring hired its first eco-reps—sophomore biology and natural resources major Jen Franke, left, sophomore sustainable community development major Sara Beadle, senior humanity and nature major Katie Nolan, and Ellie Zimmer.

The four meet 1-2 times every week with each other and with other groups on campus to discuss ways to promote sustainability on campus. They’re looking specifically at the three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social, and economic.

They are not part of the Northland College Student Association and different than the Environmental Council. The Environmental Council works on bigger issues and pursues ways Northland College can better engage in sustainability, they say.

An independent foursome, they are focused on individual actions, small life changes, and ways to bring people together. They serve on the campus Sustainability Work Group and report to Director of Sustainability Initiatives Scott Grinnell.

“Sustainability is vital to life—we’re helping spread the word and tell people why it’s important,” Beadle said.

While the program will evolve with time, right now, they hope to host at least one event per month. “We want to engage the whole campus and inspire them in a fun way,” Zimmer said.

If you are interested in volunteering or have ideas for the eco-reps, you can contact them through their email at or find them on Facebook.

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