At SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY, Trevor Cornish prepares for a future in environmental engineering.  As this picture shows, there must be snow all-year around. Photo Courtesy of flickr user John Marino.

Although many of our current political representatives are blocking it out, climate change and the environment remain some of (if not the most) pressing topics in today’s world. With the new president and his administration, environmental issues are set to take a back seat, with many proposals directed at reversing much of the progress made in recent years to try and combat the harmful effects of fossil fuels and wasteful societal practices.

Given the current political landscape, you might expect an Environmental Resources Engineering student like Trevor Cornish to be a little discouraged. You’d be mistaken. Regardless of the country’s overarching leadership, Trevor remains confident that individuals can still make a difference and help our world to a more sustainable future.

Born in Buffalo, NY, Trevor holds a deep appreciation for traveling and spending time outdoors. From San Diego, CA, to Washington, D.C., Trevor’s list of favorite places to visit spans coast to coast. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Trevor has hoped to work in protecting the environment since he was in middle school.

Now a second year student at the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY, that goal is becoming reality. With a focus on alternative energy sources and efficient recycling practices, Trevor has his sights set on a career in environmental engineering.

Solar City hopes to make solar panels a far more common sight. Photo courtesy of flickr user Ploughcroft.

Fortunately, despite our country’s leadership, Trevor doesn’t have to look far to find role models in the realm of sustainability. Citing examples such as New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who’s goal to draw 50 percent of the state’s energy from renewable sources by 2030 resulted in plans for the nation’s largest wind farm, and Solar City’s new factory in Buffalo, Trevor is optimistic about the future of alternative energy sources.

If environmental engineering didn’t seem like enough, no need to worry: there is more on the horizon. Currently a teaching assistant for a chemistry class at SUNY, Trevor hopes to eventually continue teaching as a high school or college professor. Much like one of his current professors who, while teaching as an adjunct professor, serves as the regional chair of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Trevor hopes to expand his career to include both the field and teaching elements that he enjoys.

With a ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality that he claims comes from his family, Trevor is hard set in his goals, but careful to keep his life in balance. Family plays a critical role in Trevor’s life, and even now as a student in Syracuse, Trevor makes certain to visit home often. Family and school stand as the primary pillars in Trevor’s life and he is careful to give adequate time and effort to each.

With environmental problems largely ignored on our nation’s biggest stages, students like Trevor find themselves in an interesting position. Studying for a career that stresses the importance of change and the risks of continuing down the fossil fuel path, much of what students like Trevor are preparing for is vehemently rejected by a large portion of the governing elite. Convincing others of the necessity of sustainability and alternative energy sources often feels impossible, but nevertheless the efforts of the coming generation will likely determine our ability to avoid climate disaster. Students like Trevor offer a glimpse into a better future in a time when new leaders in environmental policy are desperately needed.