College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Environmental Science & Technology

Standout Student: “You can never do too much."

By joining and creating clubs, senior ENST major discovers his passion and career path.
Andrew Bresee, a fifth year Environmental Science and Technology major.
Image Credit: 
Kirsten Petersen

“This is your world. Shape it or someone else will.”

Senior Andrew Bresee says this quote by writer Gary Lew inspires his goal to become an ecological engineer as well as his effort to make the most of his time at the University of Maryland as an Environmental Science and Technology student.

“I really want to actively make a difference in the world, rather than just see something happen,” Bresee said.

“If I see an opportunity that’s interesting, I’ll go for it,” he added.

Bresee isn’t one to shy away from opportunities. Since he joined the Phi Sigma Pi academic fraternity in spring 2010, the fifth year student has spearheaded efforts to reduce food waste, connected students with ecosystem projects and shared his experiences with underclassmen and prospective students.

“It’s helped me branch out. It made me realize it’s not hard to get involved in organizations on campus,” Bresee said of his fraternity.

In fall 2011 Bresee teamed up with public policy graduate student Ben Simon to create and build the Food Recovery Network, a non-profit that eliminates food waste by redirecting dining hall leftovers to local shelters and food banks.

“People waste so much food without even thinking about it,” Bresee said. “However, it only takes a little bit of a push, or even just a little bit of information, to get people to change their habits and waste less food.”

That same semester, Bresee was taking ENSP101 and visited the WaterShed house, the university’s entry in the Solar Decathlon. He said he did not consider himself an environmentalist until he recognized his curiosity about the environment, enthusiasm for WaterShed and his commitment to reducing waste with the Food Recovery Network.

“It was a really nice coincidence, because as I was learning about humans' impact on the environment in my classes, I was also learning about, and trying to do something about, humans' impact directly relating to one topic, food,” Bresee said. “All of these factors together made me realize a career in environmental science was exactly what I wanted to do.”

Last spring, Bresee co-founded a new student group, Symbiotic Aquatics, which connects students with ecosystem projects and professors and federal organizations with student volunteers, as a way to explore his own career aspirations.

“I helped start it with the thought that I wanted to deal with water in cities,” Bresee said. “I still do, but through the research of possible projects, I have come to realizing that I want to be involved in all things related to ecological engineering, and not just water.”

He also became a sustainability advisor to encourage students to pursue the sustainability minor and an Ag Ambassador to recruit prospective students to the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Bresee’s involvement isn’t limited to the campus. He interned last semester with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments as a water resource and security intern. He conducted stream surveys, stormwater research, and security shelter research. He also supported the Council of Governments partnership with TapIt, a program that encourages business to fill a patron’s reusable bottle with tap water, no purchase necessary.

This semester he is working at Underwood and Associates, an environmental consulting firm where he is assisting with stream restoration.

Bresee started out as a cell biology major in the Freshman Connection program. Although he switched majors as soon as he arrived and considered astronomy and psychology before settling on environmental science and technology, Bresee said he has found a home in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“I really like the professors in this department. They’re really smart and really passionate,” Bresee said. “I feel much more involved. I don’t feel lectured to. I feel like I’m getting that benefit out of it.”

Choosing ecological technology design as his concentration last semester combined his passion for people, the environment and engineering.

“It has real been the highlight of my interests in college. The more classes I take and the more I investigate ecological engineering, the more it inspires me,” Bresee said.

Since coming to UMD with aspirations to become an astrobiologist, Bresee said he’s experienced a “180 degree” transformation.

“When I came to Maryland, I didn’t have a strong self identity, and now I feel more comfortable with who I am and what I want to do,” Bresee said.

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