Former environmental science major Kate Consroe Ceste ’09 fostered her interest in the environment as a Girl Scout teaching about pollution and its effect on the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Now as the manager of the membership program at the National Council for Science and the Environment, she helps to bring science and research from academia to policymakers in an effort to preserve the environment for future generations.
Can you speak to how Dickinson’s useful liberal-arts education helped you along your career path?
The variety of classes I took at Dickinson as part of my major and my core requirements gave me skills and experiences to feel comfortable tackling many different projects at work. I think the liberal-arts approach also helped strengthen a curiosity and love of learning that has also helped in my career path. If I come across a topic new to me or am asked to work on something that I don’t have a lot of experience with, I know that I can learn.
What was your favorite activity/organization at Dickinson?
My favorite activity at Dickinson was being a tour guide. I loved learning all about the history of the college and being able to share my great experience there with students considering Dickinson. Plus, giving a tour of the campus could always put me in a good mood!
What jumps out as a great memory from your time at Dickinson?
I have so many great memories, but participating in the Luce Semester during my junior year stands out the most. In the Luce Semester, we studied the Chesapeake Bay and Mississippi watersheds. As a group of students, we took all our classes together and with the same professors so that we could travel together to the Chesapeake Bay and Louisiana to see firsthand everything we had studied in Carlisle and learn out in the field. It was so powerful to meet people that had written articles we read in class and see the places we had read about.
How do you stay involved with Dickinson? Why do you think it’s important?
I have participated in a few Career Day events at Dickinson on panels and have also hosted students at my job through the externship program. I think it’s important to stay involved and be able to give back to a place where I had such a great experience. I also like passing along what I have learned through my career path to current students.
How did you get interested in your work, and what about it excites you most?
I became interested in environmental science in high school while I was earning my Girl Scout Gold Award. I taught students and Girl Scout troops in my area about the Chesapeake Bay watershed and how pollution was impacting it. I also worked with a few elementary school classes and Girl Scout troops to grow underwater grasses that were eventually planted in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to support improved water quality. I liked the feeling of doing something to protect the environment and make the world a better place. A main reason I chose Dickinson was its environmental science program, and it was great to be able to work for ALLARM and the Center for Sustainability Education while I was a student to gain experience about environmental jobs. I am excited by the possibility of society living in a more sustainable way and preserving the environment for future generations.
What does your current work entail?
I manage the membership program at the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE). NCSE works to improve the scientific basis for environmental decision-making. NCSE works with college and university members to connect the science and research being done in academia with local, state and federal policymakers. In addition to working with colleges and universities to join as members or renew membership, I lead our communication efforts with members to share opportunities and resources with them.
What is the most challenging part of your work?
The most challenging part of my current work is having to wear many hats. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming, but it is also one of the best parts of my work, since I get to use and develop so many skills. For instance, I am currently analyzing historical trends of our member institutions, designing outreach materials for a membership campaign and helping to write and edit an article for a newsletter.
What comes to mind as something unforgettable that you’ve done since you graduated?
In 2017, I hiked in Glacier National Park in Montana for two days with my husband. The scenery was breathtaking and was a fantastic reminder of why I do what I do—to protect and preserve these wild, natural spaces. It was also incredibly meaningful to see glaciers that may not be there in a few generations. As a bonus, I met a recent Dickinson graduate halfway through the first day of hiking; she recognized a Dickinson hat I had on and came over to introduce herself. Dickinsonians really are everywhere.
If you could have dinner with anyone famous, living or dead, who would it be?
Julia Child. She had such a tenacity and drive to accomplish her goals, even when people told her it wasn’t possible. I grew up watching Julia Child cooking shows on PBS, and in high school I read her biography. I also love to cook and would love to make dinner with her first, then eat together.
You just built a time machine: where and when do you go?
I was a Girl Scout from elementary to high school and am currently a Girl Scout leader. I would love to take a time machine back to Savannah, Georgia, in 1912, when Juliette Gordon Low founded Girl Scouts of America.
If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
I would really like to adopt a dog. For now, I just spend lots of time with friends who have dogs.
Read more Alumni in Action profiles.
Published June 3, 2019