Anya Kalsbeek is a junior biology major at Dordt College where she first became involved with prairie restoration on campus and found value in educating local communities about environmental stewardship.
Anya followed this experience with a study abroad opportunity which further sparked her passion for engagement with local communities and raising environmental awareness. She has since been involved in Dordt College’s Sustainability committee and is currently working to establish an environmental activism club on campus. While with YECA, Anya has been working to raise awareness towards environmental issues in a political setting, especially in this season of presidential candidates traveling through her area in Northwest Iowa. In her free-time, Anya enjoys reading, exploring new places, and spending time with family and friends.
Project Description: I am developing a new club on campus called the Eco-Defenders that will work toward bringing students to realize the importance of taking our role as stewards of God's creation seriously. I will also be working to recruit, cultivate, train and engage volunteers at Dordt College to reach out to Presidential candidates on clean energy and climate change solutions during the 2015 Iowa Presidential Caucus campaign process.
Lincoln Morris is a senior religion and ecological sciences major at Northwestern College of Iowa, with minors in Christian Missions and Cultural Anthropology.
He grew up in Oskaloosa, Iowa and hopes someday to be a Midwest pastor-farmer. His passion for creation care emerges from his desire to see the shalom of God's redeemed kingdom in every aspect of our lives. He believes we are intimately and inextricably connected to God's creation. In his free time, he enjoys reading, making music, gardening, playing soccer, and improv comedy.
Project Description: I am involved with a few projects through YECA. First, I have worked with a local coffee shop to initiate a letter-writing campaign to policy-makers at the national and state levels. My second project involves organizing a non-partisan faith and climate forum in late January featuring several Iowan politicians. Finally, I will be traveling around Iowa to various events throughout December and January to intercept Presidential candidates and ask them questions regarding climate action and clean energy before the upcoming caucuses.
Mike Schwartz is the Westside Youth Coordinator at First Baptist Church in Santa Barbara where he has served at-risk Latino youth for the past six years.
Most recently, he has served as the co-director for justice issues with First Baptist’s local and international mission program called “Helping Hands”. Helping Hands seeks love for the brokenhearted, wholeness within economic systems, racial equality, and justice for non-human creation (both animal rights and environmental care). Mike hopes to bring awareness and engagement with these issues to the Santa Barbara area and has a passion for seeing the church understand the biblical directive to seek justice within all forms of systemic brokenness. Outside of Helping Hands, he has also worked for five years with the Uffizi Order in Santa Barbara, a non-profit organization which helps the local church engage marginalized subcultures (immigrant families, homeless friends, and trafficking victims).
Project Description: We are working to help our congregation and city approach one another and God's creation through the lens of His love and justice.We want to help Christians understand the impact of our lifestyle and how small changes can make a big difference.
Sam Scherneck was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and is a graduate of Cedarville University with a degree in environmental science.
He is currently an environmental field technician, enjoys his time studying plants, and is pursuing future graduate opportunities. At Cedarville, Sam was a leader in the university’s creation care organization and spent a year as a YECA regional coordinator. As a coordinator, Sam found value and growth in his experiences and strived to share this development with his fellow students.
Project Description: Sam is focused on compiling an attractive full-color print and online resource that charts what responding faithfully to the climate crisis can look like, and gives concrete examples of young leaders, campuses, and churches that are modeling the way forward.
Sam Smidt is a second year PhD student in the Department of Geological Sciences at Michigan State University where his research is broadly focused on water and land management.
He received his MS degree from the University of Iowa while working on stream restoration research, and he received his BS degree from Olivet Nazarene University as a geology and environmental science major. Sam has a passion for evangelical outreach found at the intersection of science and faith and is excited to see how the future of science will help strengthen the faith of evangelicals. Being from the Midwest, he has a love for farm pond fishing, small town festivals, and the St. Louis Cardinals. In his spare time, Sam can be found visiting family and friends or taking a road trip to see another piece of God’s creation.
Project Description: My projects involve (1) sharing the broad identity of YECA with the public and (2) highlighting the work of those involved with the intersection of climate and faith.
Mason Tennell is an environmental biology and biology education major at Greenville College and was a YECA Leadership Fellow during the 2014-2015 academic year.
At Greenville, he started “The Green Team”, an environmental stewardship club on campus working to educate the campus on creation care and provide opportunities for students to serve in environmental roles. The Green Team has sponsored a colloquia series hosting speakers on faith and environmental stewardship and has also generated a campus-wide recycling initiative. Outside of the Green Team, Mason has volunteered at the campus field station and has conducted environmental research. As a research assistant at the Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies, he has investigated the effects of dam removal on macroinvertebrates in the Boardman River.
Project Description: As the President of the "Green Team" student group at Greenville College, my project consists of getting composting on Greenville College's campus. We have already implemented some early stages of this, but we are expanding and refining the process. In addition to composting, I hope to help bring speakers to Greenville College who can prompt discussion on faith and climate change, as well as identify alternative energy sources to meet the campus' energy needs.