After seven years with the Fort Lewis College Environmental Center – five at the helm – Executive Director Rachel Landis is moving on.
“I, in true Millennial form, am embracing my next phase of professional development and personal growth. This decision has been an incredibly hard one to arrive at – as any of my friends on speed dial can attest to – and I will miss the EC and its work deeply,” wrote Landis in a “Parting Shot” email sent out Monday.
Landis officially steps down this Fri., May 25. Filling her shoes will be Marty Pool, the EC’s assistant coordinator of the last two years.
During her time at the EC, Landis has been a passionate champion of local food and activism. Among the programs she helped launch during her tenure was the “Real Change Initiative,” a how-to blueprint for students to put their big
ideas into action. In 2013, she also played a key role in getting the school on board with the “Real Food Challenge,” a national campaign aimed at encouraging healthy, fair and green food systems on campuses across the country. Fort Lewis College was the first school in the Southwest to officially
commit to the challenge at the time and one of only 17 nationwide. In addition, she also involved the school with the area’s annual “Homegrown Retreat,” which was held in conjunction with Growing Partners of the Southwest.
“Our projects have shifted the landscape of this region in a thousand meaningful ways – from launching city recycling to pushing for carbon neutrality to feeding hungry folk to revolutionizing the food system,” she wrote. “And, perhaps, most powerful and lasting, is the transformative education that the EC has provided to all of us.”
Never one to sit still for very long, Landis – who is also a member of the La Plata Electric Association Board and runs an outdoors program for girls – will be reporting to her new job at the Durango Regional Food Recovery Hub on Monday. “I will begin my new role building a regional food security and recovery initiative,” she wrote.
The purpose of the Hub is to increase access to locally produced agricultural goods, develop marketing opportunities for local farms and ranches, and increase regional food security. It will also work to increase access to local food for low-income families while also reducing conflicts with bears through efficient harvesting and distribution of gleaned fruit and vegetables. The Hub is operating under a three-year USDA grant that covers La Plata and Montezuma counties.
“In this ‘me’ era where disparities continue to grow and the climate continues its steady arc of change, this is perhaps the most valuable impact any entity can have,” Landis wrote in closing. “For me, spending my day-to-day in such an inspired enVironment has only strengthened my desire to support and build our community, to fight for social justice, to battle the causes of climate change.”