Meet KPU: Erin Pedersen

Pedersen established a partnership with Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery, which allows KPU students to get a $25 gift card

Erin Pedersen (file)

Having first joined the KPU community as a student in 2016, Erin Pedersen has been active since becoming the KSA’s Sustainability Coordinator in 2018.

One of her most recent accomplishments has been her partnership with Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery, which allows KPU students to get a $25 gift card for their grocery orders. She also co-founded the climate advocacy organization Surrey for Future.

What is your favourite story from your time at KPU?

It doesn’t make a great story, because there’s not a lot of conflict in it, but the moment that immediately sprang to mind is the presentation of the film The True Cost, which we partnered with KDocs to put on in March 2019.

This was sort of my largest event that I had put on as a KSA staff member. It was part of ecoDays, which is our sustainability fair that’s been going on since I believe 2015.

I had been very excited to work with KDocs and to work with the KSA volunteer program at the time, which was called START. And I was also really nervous because we’re putting on this film and we booked the conference centre, we’re working with KDocs who obviously are very prestigious and have put on full film festivals downtown. And the event was extremely successful, maybe that doesn’t make a great story, but made me very proud of both the students who worked on it, the partnership that we managed to forge with KDocs, and the number of community members that came out.

It was on a Monday, which is not necessarily the best evening to have events, and it was at the Surrey campus. So we were really tapping into the Surrey community, students and supporters and faculty and staff, and I believe we had 70 people attend, which I thought was pretty exciting.

What’s something you’d like to say to people new to the community?

Welcome, first of all! We’re sorry that everything has to be so virtual and weird right now. We hope that that won’t continue throughout too much of 2021. It’s definitely a frustrating time I think for everyone.

I think it’s easy to feel disconnected right now. It doesn’t feel good to sit in front of a Zoom call all day long. It doesn’t feel good to not be able to come to campus. It doesn’t feel good to do everything on the screen.

But I just want people to know that behind the scenes, the KSA is still here, we’re still working for you. Sometimes we might not get it right. Sometimes things take extra time, especially now. But we definitely are on your side as students and we want to make sure you have a good experience at KPU.

It’s easy to get frustrated when things take a long time or you hate Zoom class, but everybody’s going through the same thing, and we want you to be here and to have a good time.

What are you working on right now that you want people to know about?

Right now we are sort of wrapping up the year and trying to figure out what’s worked from our transition to online operations and what we should keep, and potentially new things that we should start up in the new semester.

So we’re definitely going to be doing some type of ecoDays event, probably a virtual event, in March next year. So planning that has been one of the things that I’ve been starting to focus on this month, and then will continue to focus on into the new year. We’re also planning to keep some of the initiatives we’ve started during the pandemic, such as the SPUD gift cards and then the partnership with the farm school to help students access the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program at a reduced rate.

So just making sure all of the groundwork is set up to continue those programs into the new semester. We’re hoping to be able to promote the KSA committees to more students at large, looking forward into the new year. Elections are always in February, and we have an AGM (Annual General Meeting) in March, and engaging students to be a part of both of those is super important to the KSA as a whole.

We really want to have a good communication strategy to get the word out to students about these various opportunities to get involved on committees, to run for council if they are interested in that, and also to attend the AGM and have a voice in terms of what our bylaws are and what is the KSA doing for them.

And again, it’s a constant battle against the Zoom fatigue, so we’re hoping that we can really try to get the message across to students that this is an organization that is working for them. So trying to figure out how to get that message across effectively has been something I’ve been working on as well.

What is something you would like people to know about you?

I used to be a KPU student. I studied in the Environmental Protection Technology diploma program, which maybe a lot of students don’t even know exists, but it’s a really cool program based at the Langley campus.

A lot of people in the program go on and work in environmental consulting, so they work more in the field. I kind of decided that I wanted to be more working on organizational sustainability. So that’s how I then kind of got into this role at the KSA.

But I know what it’s like to be a student, I know what it’s like to have no time. I know what it’s like to just go to class every day and go home, I was a mature student as well. So I had my life outside of KPU. And I know there’s a lot of students out there who feel that way. You know, you’ve got your life, you’ve got your job, you’ve got to be in class, and you just don’t have a lot of time to get involved.

But we want to provide value for all students, even students who feel that way. So if there’s any way that we can provide better value for all students, even if you don’t want to run for council, or you just want to get a discounted gym pass, drop me a line sustainability@kusa.ca I should be able to get your message to the right person.

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