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Undergraduate Student

Kara Dodson

Junior, Forestry

Environmental Resources Management


The Appalachian Mountains are my refuge, inspiration, and foundation. Raised in Lynchburg, Va., I was able to receive a top-notch education as well as experience nature on a daily basis. On the weekends, I would visit my aunt’s farm in Christiansburg, Va., where I learned about crawdads and stream health, rode horseback over ancient ridgelines, and performed hard physical farm work. The principles of community, mountain culture, and forest stewardship became deeply embedded in my personality and view of the world.

These days my time is split between classes, horseback riding, working on my aunt’s farm, and collaborating with several environmental groups on and off the Virginia Tech campus. I have been involved with the Environmental Coalition, Virginia Tech’s largest environmental student group, for three years. As president (2010-11), my goals included coalition expansion, university affiliation, and creating lasting, effective, sustainable solutions. Our group of 40 students tackles issues like student behavior change in regards to recycling and climate change, planning Earth Week, and recruiting for Powershift 2011.

Beyond Coal, another group that I have led for over a year, focuses on committing Virginia Tech’s administration to transition our campus steam plant from coal to renewable energy by 2020. My love for Appalachia motivates me to constantly work for alternatives to coal and to end the devastating practice of mountaintop removal mining. For two summers I have worked with the nonprofit organization Appalachian Voices on legal, legislative, and citizen science tools to protect the forests, communities, streams, economies, and heritage of Appalachia.

The College of Natural Resources and Environment Leadership Institute is an exciting opportunity to learn more about effective team building and leadership within natural resource management. Hopefully, the skills, connections, and lessons learned within our group will not only aid us in personal endeavors but on a community level as well.

Honors and Awards

  • Udall Scholar, 2011
  • Austin Michelle Cloyd Scholar, 2010
  • University Honors Student, fall 2008-present

25th Anniversary

Celebrating 25 Years

    1992 through 2017, 25 years

Join us Sept. 15-16 to visit campus and reconnect with alumni, faculty, staff, and friends.

Celebrate with Us

Read the Summer Newsmagazine

    CNRE Newsmagazine Spring 2017


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