Community Sustainability 2024 Undergraduate Honors Award Winners

The Department of Community Sustainability Honors Award Winners were announced for the 2024 graduates. These awards are given to those students who distinguish themselves in leadership, scholarship, and service during their undergraduate education.

The 2024 Community Sustainability Undergraduate Honors Award winners were celebrated in a ceremony on April 27th prior to College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Commencement. These awardees are those students who have distinguished themselves in leadership, scholarship, and service during their undergraduate careers.

Awards are listed in alphabetical order by major (Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Education; Environmental Studies and Sustainability; Sustainable Parks, Recreation, and Tourism).

Congratulations to all our award winners!

Outstanding Senior Leadership Award in Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Education

Recipient: Zoey Zupin

About Zoey: Zoey is a senior majoring in Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Education with a minor in Biology. Zoey is a leader in AFNR Education here at MSU. In addition to serving in leadership roles in the AFNRE Club and her Sorority, Zoey has also demonstrated her ability to connect with a variety of people while engaging in class discussions and leading professional development for Michigan AFNR teachers. We look forward to seeing her positivity and adaptability shine as she completes her student teaching internship at Chesaning High School.


Outstanding Senior Scholarship Award in Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Education

Recipient: Maezie Nettleton

About Maezie: Maezie is a senior majoring in Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Education and minoring in Educational Studies, Environmental and Sustainability Studies, and Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. Maezie is a critical thinker with a vibrant personality. Maezie came to the program with little to no experience in AFNR Education, but that has not stopped them from asking questions that support both their and their classmate’s understanding of the discipline. Maezie thinks critically about educational systems and thrives in communicating their ideas in a way that stimulates engaging discussion. Post-graduation Maezie will explore other opportunities to create diverse and meaningful educational experiences for students in nature.


Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Education Service Award

Recipient: Abby Marie VanDyk

About Abby: Abby is a senior majoring in Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Education and minors in Agribusiness and Environmental and Sustainability Studies. Abby joined this cohort later in her degree program, but we are glad she found her way to us. She has dived into AFNR Education with a curiosity and willingness to help others that has created many opportunities for her to learn and grow through service. Through her observations and other opportunities, Abby has helped prepare students for contests, evaluated student proficiency reports, and has served as a judge and facilitator at state and local-level FFA events. She has also become quite active with Marshall High School’s AFNR program, where she will be conducting her student teaching internship next year.


Leadership in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Award

Recipient: Luke Hurley

About Luke: Luke is an ESS major who is earning a double degree in Geographic Information Science. Luke has maintained a 3.58 GPA as a student, all while being involved in numerous activities on campus. In addition to Luke’s academic success, he has participated in Singing Spartans and has held leadership roles in the organization including Treasurer and President. Luke has also been a Floriculture Research assistant, an intern with The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy or EGLE working with the Water Infrastructure Funding and Financing Section. As a Junior, Luke collaborated with a few other amazing students and started the student organization of Environmental Studies and Sustainability United or ESSU.  Through this group, Luke was chosen as President and has evolved ESSU into an incredibly successful group that works providing professional and philanthropic opportunities for students.  Luke also serves as the Undergraduate Student Representative on the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Teaching and Academic Policy Committee and is a Resident Assistant in Brody Neighborhood. He will be continuing his work with EGLE to start his professional career.


Environmental Studies and Sustainability Scholarship Award

Recipient: Susan Toppen

About Susan: Susan is part of the Honors College and is majoring in ESS along with a Minors in Environmental Economics and Geographic Information Science, all while maintaining a 3.96 GPA as a student at MSU. Susan has been involved with various projects, including assisting Drs. Bessette and Perry researching decommissioned oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico that have been repurposed into artificial reefs. Additionally, she has been a Student Research Assistant focusing on literary research for the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, an Intern for the MSU Extension Natural Resources Work Team, and an undergraduate fellow in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Susan is also the Treasurer for the Environmental Studies and Sustainability United club. After graduation Susan is looking to continue her work professionally focusing on sustainability and the environment.


Environmental Studies and Sustainability Service Award

Recipient: Natali Gonzalez

About Natali: Natali most recently worked as a Research Assistant, in the Plant Resilience Institute of Michigan State University where they study dynamic lipid droplets of plant plastids called plastoglobules. Natali has also worked as a Research Technician, with the Li Lab in the Millersburg Michigan USGS Hammond Biological Station, where she primarily focused on sea lamprey pheromone communication. Natali has also attended first as a participant and then as a Site Leader for the International Engagement in Mexico Education Abroad program.  In addition to these experiences, Natali is the President of MANRRS, which is and engaging organization to promote academic and professional advancement by empowering those historically excluded in agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences.  Natali has been accepted into the PhD Crop and Soil Science Program here at MSU, so will be continuing her education as a Spartan.


Sustainable Parks, Recreation and Tourism- Carl Dressel Park Management Award

Recipient: Aubrey Everett

About Aubrey: Aubrey is a senior majoring in Sustainable Parks, Recreation, and Tourism and minoring in Conservation, Recreation, and Environmental Enforcement. Aubrey completed her internship this past summer at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville, Michigan where she was part of team focused on recreational tourism and user experiences. As part of her internship, Aubrey also developed a tourism accessibility trail plan for the Crystal Mountain Resort to implement to provide equitable and inclusive opportunities to all guests of Crystal Mountain. Aubrey looks forward to working for the Michigan DNR as a Conservation Officer or pursuing a career in law enforcement. Aubrey wants to work in a career where she can educate the public about the importance of our fisheries and wildlife as a public trust.


Sustainable Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Scholarship Award

Recipient: Emily Sinclair

About Emily: Emily is a senior majoring in Sustainable Parks, Recreation and Tourism. Emily is one of the few who has maintained a 4.0 GPA through her academic career at MSU. Additionally, Emily completed a professional internship at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources where she led interpretive programming and updated the visitor centers’ exhibits to be more engaging and relevant to visitors. Emily looks forward to working for the Michigan DNR as a Park Ranger in the Wildlife Division, or as a seasonal worker in a Michigan State Parks system while exploring career options. Emily wants a life working in the outdoors to both maintain a connection and sustain our Michigan heritage and amazing natural resources.


Sustainable Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Carl Dressel Park Management Award

Recipient: Joshua Doyle

About Joshua: Josh is a driven and passionate individual. In addition to pursuing his bachelor’s degree, he worked full-time in the parks profession, while also engaging in research in the Parks Connections Lab here at MSU. Josh presented some of his research at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum earlier this month. Additionally, Josh contributed substantially to projects examining diverse public uses and users of MDNR-Wildlife properties, crowdsourcing information on national parks, the social impacts of e-bikes, and trail sustainability and recreation displacement in national forests from Michigan to California. Upon graduation, Josh plans to attend graduate school to obtain either a Sustainable Tourism and Protected Area Management or a Landscape Architecture degree with a goal to work as a regional park planner. His career goal is to be on a team that shares his driven values while working with the community collaboratively and creatively. As a short-term goal, Josh aims to visit every national park in the US.

Did you find this article useful?