Jennifer Sellers

Turning the Lens Inward

Jennifer's love for animals and the environment began when she was in elementary school. Years later she's the driving force behind the new Sustainability Studies program at SUNY CCC.

Jennifer Sellers grew up in the “Cereal Capital of the World,” also known as Battle Creek, Mich. In the early 90s, Battle Creek did not have curb-side recycling, so Jennifer implemented her own plan (with the help of her parents).

“My Dad went out and got two large refrigerator boxes and put them in our garage,” said Jennifer, SUNY CCC Coordinator of Applied Learning. “We started recycling as a family.”

Not long after, Jennifer created a recycling program for empty milk cartons in her elementary school cafeteria. She became a vegetarian at the age of 10 and joined an environmental club when she entered high school.

“When I was in high school I spent a lot of time at the local natural history museum and it became something I was really passionate about,” said Jennifer. “I fell in love with these charismatic megafauna and as a kid it made me upset to learn that some of my favorite animals were endangered. That’s the moment when protecting biodiversity became really important to me.”

Jennifer’s love for animals and the environment took her to Central Michigan University, where she double majored in environmental science and political science. She attended the University of Michigan for graduate school and majored in natural resource policy and behavior. Jennifer worked as the Director of Programming at the Kingman Museum in Battle Creek before deciding to pursue teaching.

At SUNY CCC, Jennifer has helped implement a new Sustainability Studies program. The program is geared toward students who are interested in pursuing careers related to environmental, social, and fiscal sustainability within a wide range of professional fields. A unique aspect of the program at SUNY CCC is the interconnection with Spencer Crest Nature and Research Center, which allows the program to emphasize how to protect the environment for the sake of humans, rather than simply for the sake of the environment.

For Jennifer, it’s important to help people understand that they can make a difference just by applying small changes to their personal lives.

“It’s important to turn the lens inward and think about your own personal habits and how you can make those more sustainable,” said Jennifer. “It can get overwhelming if you start thinking about large global problems. Making changes can be as simple as replacing the light bulbs in your home.”

When Jennifer isn’t teaching others how to save the environment, she takes time to enjoy it herself. She recently traveled to France to visit various natural history museums and also went on a “taxidermy tour” to learn more about extinction.  

She is looking forward to her next adventure at Carolina Beach State Park, where she plans to hike, camp, and explore the estuaries.