Growing up in PeachTree City, Georgia, senior Bekah Hynson and her six siblings often visited their grandma’s house to help out with yard work and gardening. Through these visits, she learned a lot about the process of caring for nature.
It was in these moments that her initial love for the outdoors sprouted.
Now, as a sustainable development major, Hynson is able to pursue her passion and care for the environment at Taylor.
She describes her major as a combination of public health, environmental science and community development.
Along with her upbringing’s impact and the beautiful nature that surrounds her home, Hynson was also motivated to choose her major because of her desire to help others.
“I came in not knowing exactly what I wanted to do,” Hynson said. “I wanted to help people one way or another and I was really interested in the natural sciences, so environmental science was really interesting to me. But I saw sustainable development — it’s kind of a unique major — and I thought it was cool how I could get more social sciences and things in with the natural sciences.”
She has especially enjoyed learning about the importance of caring for the environment from a biblical perspective.
Classes such as Food Systems and Health and Environmental Ethics were valuable to her in learning this concept.
In environmental ethics, she learned valuable information about God’s command to serve and protect the Earth and how that impacts one’s daily life.
“[Environmental ethics] really got me and everyone in the class thinking about why we’re interested in what we’re interested in and the theology and philosophy behind different things,” Hynson said. “And it’s really cool when you can tie those things into science.”
Aside from her classes, Hynson has taken the opportunity to learn more about sustainability through travel.
This past J-term, she participated in a trip to HEART village, which is a missionary training institute in Florida that models a rural village in a developing country.
“[HEART village] is this little farm in Florida where you’re totally isolated from electronics and any modern conveniences like that,” Hynson said. “But in this isolation, you’re able to kind of take a slower pace of life that even though it’s still busy, is very refreshing.”
During her time in Florida, she learned how to take care of small farm animals well, garden, cook on an outdoor stove and deepen her knowledge in other activities and skills focused on sustainability.
Having a sustainability-focused major has influenced Hynson as she considers her various needs and wants.
“[My major has] challenged me to think about why I do what I do every day and why I think I need what I think I need,” Hynson said. “Talking about sustainability, a lot of it is ‘reduce, reuse, recycle,’ not buying something new that’s marked as sustainable.”
Hynson makes an effort to utilize this mindset of sustainability when making purchase decisions, especially those of clothing.
She has found thrifting to be an excellent financial and environment-friendly option.
“[Thrifting] really helps to step away from the fast fashion industry which causes a lot of pollution and lots of other problems,” Hynson said. “And so I think that it’s a really good way just to even spice up your wardrobe. There’s lots of fun things you can find and alter, and it kind of helps you be more creative and have unique things that not everybody else has.”
Now, as she looks toward graduating next fall, Hynson is thinking about how she hopes to utilize her major. With a minor in health and wellness, she is interested in the physical health and community development aspects of the field.
She aspires to pursue a career in which she makes assessments for communities and wellness initiatives.
“I think it would be really cool to be able to start different community gardens for lower income communities and just help people connect food to the ground and understand the system and where their food comes from,” Hynson said. “I’d love to be a part of doing that one day.”
Sustainable development is something that everyone can put into practice, not simply those like Hynson who are majoring in the subject.
She believes that viewing sustainability through a biblical lens means understanding that all that one has is a gift from God — and for that reason, nothing should be wasted.
“I think sustainable development sounds fancy, but it’s something that people can really put into practice in their everyday life and just kind of a mindset that they can adopt,” Hynson said. “It just has to start with humility of not wanting the next biggest and best thing or just kind of being more content with the things that we have and learning how to use our resources well.”