Environmental Studies Spotlight: 2012 Graduate Jerrod Bley

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October 27, 2020

UNL Environmental Studies graduate, Jerrod Bley, was recently appointed to the Climate Justice Working Group for New York State's nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). Bley explained that New York State passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in June 2019, which led to the formation of the Climate Justice Working Group (CJWG).


Bley’s ambitions to continually participate in the change towards climate justice had a few stops before landing the influential position in New York. Bley worked for Montana State University and worked on a grant with the University of Wyoming Extension office as the Renewable Energy Education Coordinator. He also was a primary trainer for Environmental Health and Safety in Montana where he provided certificate coursework to Indigenous communities. He found this to be one of his favorite parts of the job. Bley stated, “I observed that these populations are the front-line communities. They have the most to gain and lose from an environmental and climate justice perspective. The Wind River Reservation outside of Riverton, WY where I taught several EPA and OSHA certification courses comes to mind. You can learn more about the injustices that this community still deals with here and here.”


Bley eventually moved to New York State where he landed the position at the Climate Justice Working Group where he stresses the importance of climate justice in the climate change conversation. Bley explained, “The CJWG has an important advisory role in the Climate Action Council process, providing strategic advice for incorporating the needs of disadvantaged communities in the Scoping Plan.”


Bley provided advice to current students in the Environmental Studies. Bley stated, “I highly encourage students to get involved in local issues as much as possible even if it adds to the already tremendous workload they'll have from their studies. Volunteer with organizations that are working in spaces that you find align with your own passions, interests, and values because that is the sustainable path forward and will help to ensure you don't burnout. Be willing to take on new responsibilities and take initiative even if it brings you outside of your comfort zone. My maxim is ‘be comfortable being uncomfortable.’ Step away from the computer or book and get out into the community where you live, work, and play to meet folks and create real, meaningful relationships beyond an email or phone call. It's important to experience the issues or industries you'll be working in and to have the foundation to translate that into valuable work for an employer or yourself. Finally, always strive to find a healthy work-life balance. This will serve you well over the years and makes you a more pleasant and productive person to be around at the office and at home with your partner/family.”