2022 TRACS Student Summit


Keynote Address

Sarah J. Ray talks and discusses letting go of eco-guilt, resisting burnout, and cultivating resilience while advocating for climate justice. A youth movement is reenergizing global environmental activism. The “climate generation”—late millennials and iGen, or Generation Z—is demanding that policymakers and government leaders take immediate action to address the dire outcomes predicted by climate science. Those inheriting our planet’s environmental problems expect to encounter challenges, but they may not have the skills to grapple with the feelings of powerlessness and despair that may arise when they confront this seemingly intractable situation. Drawing on a decade of experience leading and teaching in college environmental studies programs, and combining insights from psychology, sociology, social movements, mindfulness, and the environmental humanities, this talk offers strategies of interior resilience to engage climate advocacy for the long haul.

SarahRaySARAH J. RAY is Chair and Professor of Environmental Studies at Cal Poly Humboldt. She researches and teaches climate justice, the environmental humanities, and climate emotions. Her recent book A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety: How to Keep Your Cool on a Warming Planet, explores the role of emotions in climate justice activism.

Student Presentations

UT Austin Microfarm by Nikki Hammond, University of Texas at Austin

We are the first student run organic farm. We host volunteer workdays open to the entire student body every Sunday from 10:30-12:30. All the produce we grow is donated to the UT Outpost, the student food pantry here on campus. Our mission is to educate students on sustainable agriculture, provide access to free organic vegetables, and to provide a green space for students to have access to. We will be focusing on the history of our project (as it is our 10th year anniversary), as well as our mission, impact, and how students can get involved.

Aggie Eco-Reps by MK Futrell, Texas A&M University

Aggie Eco-Reps are a student-run, residence-life organization devoted to spreading sustainability on campus. Our mission is to provide students with the education and opportunity to promote and continue sustainability. In our presentation, we would like to share the story of how the Aggie Eco-Reps evolved from a group of student recyclers to Texas A&M’s loudest and proudest environmental leadership organization.

UT El Paso Green Fund, by Tenzin Wangmo, University of Texas at El Paso

We will provide an overview of the inner workings of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) Green Fund. The Green Fund collects $3 from the students every semester, raising up to $200,000 per year. We use that money to fund sustainability projects that were proposed by the members of UTEP, especially the students.

The Environmental Justice Collective by Srikari Punyamurtula, University of Texas at Austin

The Environmental Justice Collective (EJC) is a project team of the sponsored student organization, Campus Environmental Center (CEC). EJC was established by the CEC in 2019 after a group of students saw a gap on campus – there was no established, institutionalized space for students to explore and organize around the issue of environmental justice. EJC seeks to serve as an educational resource and community for UT students interested in learning about environmental justice and applying a social justice lens to contemporary environmental issues.

Eco-Bricks by Karen Cortes Guzman, University of Texas at Dallas

The Chemistry Graduate Student Association helps gather people with a scientific background and can think of problems from a different perspective. We help bring this community of graduate students close with sustainability practices on campus, as well as creating new projects that can help make our daily lives more sustainable. The Eco-brick rally we are proposing will help sequester plastics from getting into the environment and polluting the biosphere, as well as building different benches or community garden improvements to serve the community.

Comets for Better Transit by Daniel Yahalom, University of Texas at Dallas

The Comets for Better Transit are a new student organization primarily focused on advocating for better pedestrian, bike and public transit on the UTD campus and in our general area. We are currently working on three major projects. 1. We are collaborating with the UTD Police Department to help improve bike security on campus. 2. We are collaborating with parts of the UTD administration and other clubs to help improve knowledge of the public transit benefits that UTD students receive. 3. We are in fairly advanced stages of getting the university to install sidewalks on several streets on which students have demanded better pedestrian access for years.

The Urban Howdy Farm by Delany Harris, Texas A&M University

The Urban Howdy Farm (TUHF) is a student-run farm located on campus focused on connecting students and the community to their food sources through experiential learning through sustainable agriculture. TUHF provides a setting for students of all majors and backgrounds to share ideas about sustainability and better connect to their food. We recently had to move locations which allowed us to learn even more about repurposing old materials and turning them into something functional. The farm consists of an aeroponic greenhouse as well as land for traditional in ground growing.

Guided Workshop with The Sunrise Movement

Kevin Patterson, Coordinator, Sunrise Movement Dallas

TRACS SpeakersKevin is a senior and first-generation Brazilian American Political Science student at the University of Texas at Dallas. Outside of school, he is a coordinator for Sunrise Movement Dallas, focusing on Electoral politics and Mutual Aid. In addition, he has years of experience as their electoral lead winning elections across North Texas. He is also the co-chair for another progressive organization Our Revolution North Texas.

Career Panel

Dr. Carey King, Research Scientist, Assistant Dir. at the Energy Institute, University of Texas at Austin

CareyKingDr. King has both a B.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from UT Austin. His research is on the interactions of energy systems, economy, and environment. He looks to policy and social systems to determine probably future energy pathways.

Celine Rendon, Texas Project Specialist, EcoRise

CelineRendonRendon has a B.S. in Environmental Science and Geography and Certificate in Public Policy from UT Austin. She has expertise in community engagement and works at EcoRise, an organization that designs school-based programs for empowering youth to tackle sustainability challenges.

Corey Troiani, Senior Campaign Strategy Director, Texas Campaign for the Environment (TCE)

CoreyTroianiTroiani started his environmental career in 2011, organizing fighting hydraulic fracturing in neighborhoods in Denton, TX. In 2012, he co-founded a direct action campaign with activists and landowners to oppose the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline in East Texas. For the past nine years with TCE, Corey has worked to organize support for local, state, federal, and corporate policies on zero waste, energy, and climate issues. Corey has expertise in meeting facilitation, campaign strategy development, lobbying, and communications. He is interested in bridging relationships with individuals and groups within and outside the environmental movement and finding shared struggles with working-class, labor, and social justice movements.

Valerie Salinas-Davis, Lecturer, School of Advertising & PR, University of Texas at Austin

ValerieSalinasDavis has a B.J. in Public Relations from UT Austin. She founded EnviroMedia, an environmental marketing agency, which helped start America Recycles Day and the Don’t Mess with Texas litter prevention campaign. She also co-founded the nonprofit WasteLessWednesday.

Veronica Johnson, Sustainability Coordinator, Southwestern University

VeronicaJohnsonJohnson has B.A. in Environmental Engineering from Rice and an MBA in Sustainability from Bard College. She co-chairs Southwestern’s Sustainability Committee and is on the Executive Committee for TRACS. She supports student-led projects, hosts the Georgetown Green Film Series, and implements campus environmental initiatives.


Anastasia Whittemore, University of Texas at Dallas

AnastasiaAnastasia Whittemore is a senior pursuing a Bachelor and Master of Arts in Political Science at the University of Texas at Dallas. She is an Eco Rep at the Office of Sustainability and oversees a wide range of waste reduction efforts on campus, such as Campus Sustainability Month, Campus Race to Zero Waste, the Campus Cleanup Program, e-waste collection, and waste data entry. Her involvement with Roosevelt at UTD, a local think tank that advocates for policy change in the larger Dallas and Texas region, sparked her initial interest in sustainability. She has also served on Student Government’s Sustainability Committee and the Green Initiative. 

Ashley Fitzpatrick, Rice University

AshleyAshley Fitzpatrick is a senior at Rice University studying Environmental Science and Anthropology. She currently serves as Rice’s Sustainability Program Manager where she oversees a variety of projects including a campus-wide composting program and a sustainable laundry detergent program with Generation Conscious. Ashley also leads Rice Environmental Society, Rice’s largest student environmental group, and co-founded Rice Fondren Library’s Green Team.

Darcy Hansen, Southwestern University

DarcyDarcy is a senior Environmental Studies major, with minors in Feminist Studies and Political Science at Southwestern University. She has been an intern at SU’s Office of Sustainability for two years, and this past summer she assisted with the AASHE STARS Certification Program on campus and helped the campus receive the first Gold Certification. As an intern, she leads the Climate Action Team on campus and works on implementing and promoting projects on campus. She is currently applying to Masters programs focusing on Human-Environment interaction. 

Paige Wirth, Texas A&M University

PaigePaige Wirth is a senior Environmental Geoscience major with minors in GIST and Ecology and Conservation Biology. She has been working for Texas A&M’s Office of Sustainability for two and a half years, focusing on education and outreach. After graduation, she hopes to focus on scientific research in the field of ecology and is passionate about ecological restoration and the preservation of natural ecosystems. She plans on attending a Ph.D. program after graduation. 

Samara Zuckerbrod, University of Texas at Austin

SamaraSamara Zuckerbrod is an undergraduate student from the University of Texas at Austin majoring in Sustainability Studies and English. She has a strong desire to further the environmental movement with a particular interest in public policy, environmental research, and communications. She currently serves as the Co-Director of UT Austin’s Campus Environmental Center, the oldest and largest student-run environmentalism organization. Additionally, she serves as the Vice-Chair of UT Austin’s Green Fund Student Committee, reviewing sustainability-related projects proposed by university members. In her free time, she enjoys being in nature either by volunteering at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center or bringing a book out to the patio. 

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