Posted November 29, 2012
In celebration of the Environmental Studies Department 40th anniversary, alumni who majored in ES are telling their stories of how the major affected their Bowdoin experience and life after college.
Ryan Ann Davis graduated from Bowdoin in 2004 with a major in Environmental Studies and History. While at Bowdoin, Davis was an employee of Sustainable Bowdoin, a new organization at the time and worked under the current director, Keisha Payson. Although an active part of campus today, Sustainable Bowdoin was much smaller when it first began. Along with Payson, Davis played an active role in bringing recycling to campus. Part of her job entailed driving around campus to pick up all of the recyclable trash. Bowdoin provided the recycling bins, but relied on people such as Davis to then take this waste to the recycling plant. Davis also worked with Payson to bring local food to the now renowned Bowdoin cafeteria. The local food that students enjoy today began with the efforts of students such as Davis. Furthermore, Davis made a senior thesis documentary film on the collapse of the ground fishing industry in Maine, a problem that still interests Bowdoin faculty and students today. It was through student efforts such as Davis's efforts that Bowdoin now has reputation as an environmental friendly college.
Following graduation, Davis pursued her interest in film that developed while completing her documentary senior thesis. Inspired by her academic advisor Professor Matt Klingle, Davis moved out West where she initially worked for a Seattle film distribution company. During this time she also attended night classes at Washington University for multimedia skills and web design. With these newly acquired skills, Davis then began working for Northwest Film Forum, an arts organization that screens over 200 independently made and classic films annually, offers a year-found schedule of filmmaking classes, and supports filmmakers at all stages of their careers. After five years with the Film Forum, Davis began her current job as the Communications Director at Northwest Folklife, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating opportunity for all people to celebrate, share, and participate in the evolving cultural traditions of the Pacific Northwest.
Although Davis’s career is not directly linked to her Environmental Studies major, she says she learned important life skills from her major, namely the ability to think critically about problems and always be aware that problems are multifaceted. She is still passionate about the environment and brings the environment into her work whenever possible. Folklife is actively aware of environmental ethics and has had special programs related to nature, such as programs about gardening. Davis was not sure where her interest in the environment would take her while at Bowdoin, but she is happy to have found at home at Northwest Folk Life and remembers her time at Bowdoin fondly.