UM Student Discovers Passion for Environment

MISSOULA – Zoe Transtrum wasn’t planning to pursue environmental studies when she came to the University of Montana on a soccer scholarship from her hometown of Boise, Idaho.

Zoe Transtrum had several hands-on learning experiences at UM, including gardening at PEAS Farm

But after taking a class on sustainable communities her first semester in fall 2018, Transtrum was hooked. She went on to double major in environmental studies and sustainability science and practice and minor in climate change studies and ecological restoration.

“After I took that course my freshman year, I thought this is where I belong,” Transtrum said. “It introduced all of these topics that were completely new to me. And it really drew me in.”

Throughout her four years, Transtrum had several hands-on learning experiences including an internship at the PEAS Farm, an urban, sustainable farm that grows thousands of pounds of fruits and vegetables for the Missoula Food Bank.

Last summer, Transtrum earned college credits through an outdoor course with the Wild Rockies Field Institute, where she backpacked for three weeks through Yellowstone National Park. She learned first-hand about restoration efforts in the park.

“It was three weeks of backpacking and camping the whole time and meeting with land managers,” Transtrum said. “I’ve never been backpacking before so it was awesome to learn.”

Peter McDonough, climate change studies program director at UM who has known Transtrum for the past four years, said he is impressed with her ability to examine major global issues such as climate justice and women ability while staying positive and motivated.

“She has a characteristic combination of intense passion for and wry humor about really big issues,” McDonough said. “The result is this powerful but encouraging presence of mind and purpose.

Transtrum’s work in the climate change studies program has directly contributed to sustainability efforts and awareness on campus through projects and her ability to connect easily with people, McDonough said.

“I like to think the climate change studies program attracts a certain kind of student who can emotionally face a global crisis and thrive in a supportive community of others doing the same,” McDonough said. “Zoe epitomizes that idea and has been an inspiration to many others in the program.”

Outside of environmental studies, another major highlight for Transtrum was her participation in the Sports Diplomacy: Sport for Social Change exchange program through the Mansfield Center. In the program, Transtrum traveled to Peru in the spring of her freshman year with a group of about 15 people, ranging from high school students to adults. Their goal was to advocate for gender equality and women empowerment by using soccer as a platform.

Transtrum, a player on the Griz soccer team, played soccer with young girls in Peru and helped host workshops and training sessions. The Peruvian girls later came to Missoula as part of the two-way exchange.

“There’s so many more barriers that women have there to be able to play sports,” Transtrum said. “That was really eye opening to me. It made me really appreciate my opportunity to play soccer here.”

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