In advance of Earth Day, Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute (ERI) is recognizing 13 Hoosier Resilience Heroes for contributions to their communities and the environment. The honorees include professionals, students, and volunteers dedicated to growing sustainable food, promoting environmental justice, preparing Indiana for the impacts of climate change, and more.
“From farms, to suburbs, to urban neighborhoods, everywhere you look you find people working to make Indiana a healthier, more environmentally sustainable place to live,” said ERI Director Janet McCabe. “Our heroes are leading the charge against ongoing threats to our state, such as climate change and long-term social and environmental inequities. We applaud their efforts and are inspired by their contributions to our state.”
Individuals recognized as 2021 Hoosier Resilience Heroes include:
- Angel-Hannah Akinleye, a senior at Riverside High School in Indianapolis, who leads an initiative to promote Indiana high school journalism that focuses on climate change and other environmental challenges.
- Ethan Bledsoe, a junior at West Lafayette Junior-Senior High School, who has helped organize youth in West Lafayette to pass a climate resolution and developed a campaign to increase climate literacy in his community.
- Phyllis Boyd, the executive director of Groundwork Indy, who has created programming to help youth and adults connect with the natural world and advocated for inclusive green spaces.
- Paula Brooks, a speaker, organizer and activist, who has devoted herself to educating residents, elected leaders, civil servants, and others on environmental justice issues in Indiana.
- Liz Brownlee, a sustainable farmer and conservationist, who is building a network of young farmers committed to making agriculture part of the solution to climate change.
- Miranda Frausto, a student at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, who lobbied her hometown of Carmel to resolve to address climate change and helped it get started.
- Gregg Keesling, the co-founder and president of RecycleForce, whose company diverts millions of pounds of recyclable materials from landfills each year and helps ex-offenders transition to employment.
- John Mundell, an environmental consultant in Indiana, who has helped the Archdiocese of Indianapolis develop and implement a comprehensive sustainability program for their parishes and schools in central and southern Indiana.
- Jamie Scott, a farmer in northeast Indiana, who has practiced sustainable farming methods for decades and helps showcase their benefits to other farmers.
- Kathy Sipple, a longtime environmental organizer in Northwest Indiana, who spearheaded an effort to get local governments in the region to conduct the first regional-scale greenhouse gas inventory in the state.
- Adam Thada, the director of ecological relationships at The Center at Donaldson, who has contributed to the growth of clean energy and other sustainable initiatives in Marshall County.
- Leslie Webb, the founder of Carmel Green Initiative, who has fostered a network of residents, organizations, and elected officials in her community to work toward a sustainable future.
- Alison Zajdel, a community leader and volunteer, who coordinated Richmond’s push to understand and address the city’s vulnerabilities to climate change
These honorees represent a small slice of the work being done to make Indiana communities healthier, more sustainable, and more resilient to environmental changes that affect Hoosiers’ health and livelihoods.