Frieda Luoma-Cohan wasn’t content to confine her college experience to the classroom.
As an Environmental Studies student, she sought out opportunities to take her learning outside, whether it was on a class field trip, an outdoor excursion, or the opportunity to be the official steward of the new Sustainable Learning Space on south campus.
“I really seek out that kind of learning. I think it’s the way I learn best,” she said. “I’m able to connect not only with scientific information but also build an emotional relationship with the space. It’s been important and interesting to see my interest and need to be in these spaces develop as I’ve grown older.”
Born and raised in Washington, Frieda’s connection to nature has been ingrained in her since she was young. At the University of Washington she not only found ways to connect with outdoor spaces, she also shared her love with others.
Her dedication to sustainability earned her a 2018 Husky Green Award. The awards are given annually to students, faculty, staff and groups across campus who showed sustainability leadership.
As a student leader in SAGE, the Student Association for Greener Environments, she worked with the UW Athletics Green Team at Husky football games this fall to provide recycling bags and information to fans in the tailgating areas. Their efforts greatly paid off as the 2017 football season reached 81% waste diversion in Husky Stadium - UW's highest rate ever.
Frieda also shares her knowledge as the steward of the Sustainability Learning Space, letting people know about the plants and features in the courtyard. She's continually improved the plot with native plantings, enhanced trail work and intensive maintenance projects which allow the space to be enjoyed by UW community members now and in the future.
As for her next steps, she was recently selected as one of the Bonderman Travel Fellowship winners. She’ll be spending 8 months after graduation independently traveling to Morocco, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Bhutan, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. She plans to explore how science education varies from communities around the world and better understand how education can be used as a powerful tool to increase environmental awareness.
When choosing where to travel to, she tried to create an itinerary that truly took her out of her comfort zone.
“I’m very familiar with the Pacific Northwest and the native ecology of Seattle and the Puget Sound region, so I tried to think of something as far away as I could possibly get. And the first place that came to mind was Morocco and then South East Asia.”
Eventually, she hopes to return to the Pacific Northwest and join the graduate program at Islandwood on Bainbridge Island to continue pursuing outdoor education.