CCI Grad Student Committed to Creating a Sustainable Campus

Recently, CCI got the chance to talk with Michelle Presley, an English Literature alumna currently pursuing a master’s in Public Interest Media and Communication at FSU. She serves as the Communications Coordinator for FSU Sustainable Campus and is a Trip Leader for FSU’s Outdoor Pursuits. Read more about how her passion for sustainability drives her focus, not only in her schooling but in her professional and personal lives as well.

Tell us about your job. What does a typical day look like?

“In both the communication and outdoor recreation worlds, there isn’t really a typical day. However, that’s a lot of why I love both positions. As the Communications Coordinator for Sustainable Campus, on any given day I could be updating our website so we have the best sustainability information to share, taking photos at our beautiful Seminole Organic Garden, or strategizing creative ways to amplify all of the sustainability initiatives and research happening across FSU. Sustainability is a big topic and we have a very large and diverse audience. Creating entry points for our campus community to learn more about sustainability wouldn’t be possible without the whole Sustainable Campus Communications team. I oversee our Graphic Designer and Social Media Coordinator. Together, we develop multi-pronged approaches to reach our audience.

“As a Trip Leader for Outdoor Pursuits, I might be mapping out a hiking route, leading an in-service training for other leaders on Leave No Trace ethics, or paddling on the Wacissa River. Leading trips for Outdoor Pursuits is exciting, but this position is so much more than just the highlight reel of actually being on the trips. We work year-round to maintain our wilderness first aid, Leave No Trace, and backcountry skills. It’s not uncommon to find us practicing knot tying or canoe rescues during our staff meetings. “

What is your favorite thing about your job?

“I really enjoy how both positions feed off one another. Sustainability impacts all areas of my professional and personal life. For me, my passion for sustainability is a result of my love of the outdoors and desire to protect the beautiful places I’ve been lucky enough to experience. I enjoy my position as Communications Coordinator for Sustainable Campus because it allows me to find creative ways to foster that passion for stewardship in others. Feeling that my work matters and has a positive impact on our campus and the planet is incredible.

“Similarly, I love leading trips for Outdoor Pursuits because nothing compares to the feeling when you see someone fall in love with the outdoors for the first time. If I can help our trip participants feel comfortable and happy just being themselves and disconnecting for a few nights or a few hours on the trail, there’s absolutely nothing better.”

How did you become interested in this career and how did your education prepare you for it? How is the PIMC program helping you with your job or with your career?

“When I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in 2014, I pursued a career in education. At the time, my husband, Troy, was in the Army, and it was great working in a field that was in-demand wherever his job took us. I was fortunate to have a diverse array of teaching experiences during that time. I taught everyone from adults looking to earn their GEDs to elementary school students. Although I found teaching extremely rewarding, I knew I wanted to take my career in a different direction once Troy was no longer active duty. While we were both trying to figure out what was next, we went out on a limb and bought an old Ford van, turned it into a little house on wheels, and traveled the United States and Canada for a few months.

“During that time, we ate, slept, and breathed on public lands. We went to dozens of National Parks and fell in love with Moab stars, Seattle rain, and everything in between. Every night, we’d camp somewhere new and fall in love all over again. That experience solidified my desire to devote my life and career to protecting these incredible places. I knew the Public Interest Media and Communication program would help me make that career shift and help me build the skills to be a successful advocate for public lands. I especially enjoy the research opportunities within the PIMC program.

“My Master’s thesis is very much in line with the work that I do now as well as the work I hope to do in the future. I’m interested in the way that depictions of public lands on social media platforms like Instagram impacts the health of those spaces. I hope to use my research and the knowledge I gain through my graduate coursework to make a positive impact on the places I fell in love with while traveling.

“My time as a PIMC student has also aided me greatly in my role as Communications Coordinator for Sustainable Campus. Not only have I learned about the elements of a successful campaign, but my coursework challenges me to consider how to make lasting, positive change through communication. It’s exciting to bring the knowledge I’ve gained in the classroom to my work at Sustainable Campus. Effective communication can make a world of difference in the way we see a problem, seek out solutions, and implement change. “

What does the future look like for you? What’s next?

 “I feel so incredibly fulfilled with where I am now, but when I look ahead to the future, I hope to continue to use my communication skills to advocate for the environment and public lands. Hopefully, there will be lots more nights in a tent and days on the trail mixed in there as well.

“I know that wherever life takes me, the outdoors will always be the true North of my personal and professional compass. If I’m doing something to give back to the public lands I’ve called home, I’ll be happy.”