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Future Business Leaders Committed to Changing the World for the Better
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Feb 28, 2024

Finding my Place in the Green Movement

By Liz Barteldt, Class of 2025

Last week, I left the familiar confines of UNC’s campus as I ventured into the Arizonian desert, which quickly became my new classroom as I attended my very first GreenBiz – a premier conference for sustainable business leaders.

As a student volunteer, I was quickly immersed in the bustling atmosphere. From scanning badges to directing attendees, I found myself amidst an array of people, ranging from fellow sustainability students to chief sustainability officers of companies of all sizes.

Throughout three days of panels, workshops, and networking, I was exposed to the broad expanse of corporate sustainability issues, ranging from Scope 3 emissions to biodiversity to the ESG ecosystem. Surrounded by over 2,500 people across all sectors and career stages, my eyes were opened to the breadth of roles in sustainability. However, I found myself drawn to the same roles again and again: sustainability communications. From internal engagement initiatives to external messaging strategies, the importance of effectively communicating sustainability efforts resonated deeply with me. Seasoned sustainability communicators kindly took me under their wing and aided me in my quest to discover where my place was in this field of sustainability communications – giving me a sense of where I might find myself post-graduation.

The principles of cross-sector collaboration instilled by the Luther Hodges Scholars program were omnipresent throughout the conference. In a thought-provoking panel titled “Partnering for Resilient Forests: Climate, Forests, Fires, and Communities,” panelists emphasized the importance of partnerships in addressing complex biodiversity challenges. Learning how collaborative efforts amongst panelist organizations facilitated the restoration of thousands of acres of forests was truly inspiring and reaffirmed by belief in the power of collective action addressing the climate crisis.

Leaving GreenBiz, I departed not just a volunteer, but also a member of a global sustainability community. The relationships created and insights gained have undeniably solidified my commitment to pursuing a career in sustainability and gave me a renewed sense of direction in this expansive field. This transformative experience would not have been possible without the funding from the Luther Hodges Scholars program at UNC Chapel Hill, and I feel incredibly grateful for their support as I pursue a career in impact.

Inspired by the words of Jorge Fontanez, the CEO of B Lab, who urged us to build a movement rooted in love rather than fear, I am committed to infusing my sustainability work with compassion, empathy, and dedication in nurturing a more sustainable world. As I return to my normal – and more humid – classrooms at UNC, I carry with me a renewed sense of purpose, supported by a web of sustainability enthusiasts across the country, to continue the fight to make this world a better place.

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