Meet the kids going to Montana!

This is the first post in our Montana blog series. All 15 of us will take turns writing posts, so check back often!

With just over half a day before our arrival in Billings, we’re pumped to kick-off our blog series with a post introducing the fifteen of us who will be heading to Yellowstone National Park and American Prairie Reserve for 5-8 days of research, filmmaking, volunteering, and exploring.

Before we do that, we offer a hearty thank you to the sponsors, who’ve given us either the financial means or the love and administrative support necessary for this truly one-of-a-kind endeavor. They are:

Program in American Studies
Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
High Meadows Foundation Sustainability Fund
Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice
Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students
Princeton Class of 1995
Princeton Environmental Institute
Princeton Progressives
Program in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP)


Elias Berbari is entering his senior year, an EEB major, pre-med, and on the Men’s Basketball team. He’s from Long Island, and can be found on SoundCloud under “DJ Baby E.”

Devon Block-Funkhouser is a rising junior in the EEB department, hailing from Santa Barbara, California. She runs for Princeton’s track team, but “only a lap.” A very impressive 56.87 seconds lap though! When not training, she enjoys trying to do her EEB homework during Conservation Society meetings.

Will Brown is a history major entering his junior year, from Richmond, Virginia. Will was disappointed that no other history majors would be attending this trip.

Heather Callahan is a rising sophomore and prospective EEB major, from Delaware! In 2010, while Heather was in fifth grade, she “swept” an academic quiz tournament for grades five through eight at the Charter School of Wilmington!

Sierra Castaneda is a CEE major entering her junior year. She’s from the beautiful outlying parts of Northern New Jersey, and like the state we’re going to, has a name that comes from Spanish (which she’s getting a certificate in!). She runs for Princeton’s Cross Country and Track & Field teams, and ran a 17:31 5K in April!

Adam Chang is a rising junior, also from Northern New Jersey (but from the more built-up, more dystopian, inner suburb ring). He’s part of the Latin American Studies program, and his hobbies include running and asking for forgiveness rather than permission. His favorite ocean is the South Pacific!

Andrew Kaneb is a prospective EEB major who just finished his first year at Princeton, from Cambridge, Massachusetts! Andrew has one endorsement each for “Data Analysis,” “DNA Extraction,” and “Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)” on his LinkedIn profile.

Grace Kortum is a rising sophomore hailing from New Haven (but really Chicago). She’s a prospective Geosciences major, and outside of school enjoys meeting with Kate Harmon at ODUS and tagging the same three Facebook friends in posts involving cute animals.

Daniel Lee is a rising junior from Wisconsin, west of Milwaukee (not east of Milwaukee, that’s a body of water), and studies in the Woodrow Wilson School.

Janette Lu is “from orange county, california but currently based in princeton, new jersey,” and almost wrote this bio herself (the quoted section is from her personal website, lowercase and all). She studies in the Woodrow Wilson School!

Vienna Lunking is a rising junior from Charlotte, North Carolina. She’s majoring in EEB, and the president of the Princeton Pre-veterinary Society. In high school, she started “The Amazing Bake” blog where she attempted to craft 26 different cupcakes, one for each letter of the alphabet (find the news article “Providence Day junior has fun with cupcake challenge on baking blog”).

Noah Mihan is a rising senior from Vermont, part of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, the president of Conservation Society, and all-around role model for us all. He’ll be spending several weeks in Kenya this summer at the Mpala Research Centre! Isn’t that cool? Noah also is involved with Princeton Tonight, and if you google “Noah Mihan Princeton Tonight” you’ll get around a dozen videos whose titles all end in “SCARE PRANK.” If Noah had two fairy godparents, they’d be Ian Deas and Kate Harmon from ODUS.

Zoe Rennie is a rising sophomore from the East Bay! She’s a prospective EEB major, and on her LinkedIn profile lists her only job as “Performance Tracking Assistant” for the Office of Sustainability! How are we doing, Zoe!

Jonathan Salama just finished his freshman year, and hails from Westchester County, New York. He was in six honor societies in high school (Tri-M Music Honor Society, Math, Science, Social Studies, English and Foreign Language Honor Societies)! He’s a prospective Computer Science major — original!

Crystal Wu is a rising junior from New York (the city!), and studies in the Woodrow Wilson School. In high school, Crystal had several spectacular performances in the 1500m Racewalk, her best being a 8:16.29.

Meet our (very first) member-of-the-month, Jesenia!

While this May has brought us great new experiences (reading period, mildly improved weather, this blog), it sadly is also the time when the school year ends and we say our goodbyes. This year, one of our goodbyes is a bit more permanent than the rest, for Jesenia Haynes, our sole senior member*, will be graduating. In honor of this farewell, we’ve chosen Jesenia to be our inaugural Princeton Conservation Society member-of-the-month; her absence will leave our world a little bit darker and a little bit smaller.

Meet Jesenia, an ecology and evolutionary biology (EEB) major from Tampa. She captioned this photo “Dis my new car waddup,” and you should definitely ask her about that. We sat down with her to ask a few questions before saying farewells.

Tell us about how you came to be involved in Princeton Conservation Society (PCS).

I first went to an internship tabling event that PCS was hosting, and learned that the club had been recently started by Noah [Mihan]. I already knew Noah from one of my classes and I wanted to join a club related to the environment anyway, so PCS was great because I knew I’d have a friend in the group. I also really like Conservation Society because it’s open and always accepting to new members year round, and I think it’s really easy to come to meetings and events and be as involved in the club as much as you want to be. With other clubs on campus, and specifically other environmental type clubs, I know they exist and I know that they host events, but I never knew how to actually join the club instead of just showing up to events.

What are the main things you’ve been doing in PCS?

Conservation Society is always hosting so many different types of events, so I really enjoy going to everything from “puppies and petitions” to movie screenings. I never get bored with the club. I’m also the Social Media Chair so I help manage the PCS Facebook page by creating events and posting photos and other club updates.

What are your plans for after graduation? Do they have anything to do with conservation? Has PCS influenced your plans?

Right now I don’t have anything set for the long term, but I’m trying to find a job in Boston and it’d be awesome if it’s related to the environment! In a couple years, I also hope to go to grad school and work in some management type of career related to conservation and sustainability.

This summer, I’m actually going to be a teaching assistant for a summer studies course for gifted middle schoolers for an aquatic biology, conservation, and policy course. I’ve always been interested in the environment and conservation so I can’t really say that the PCS has influenced my interests, but it has showed me that there are other ways to have a career dedicated to the environment that isn’t necessarily research, field work, or environment awareness campaigns. For example we had Carter Roberts, the CEO of the WWF, come to Princeton and speak, and I think that inspired me to try to seek out a leadership-related job in a large environmental organization. Working for the WWF would be super cool!

In the little time on campus that you’re not sleeping or doing something PCS-related, what else do you enjoy?

Watching Naruto and eating white cheddar popcorn.

Smartfood or Skinny Pop?

That’s a little personal.

What’s been your wildest PCS moment?

(Laughs.) I don’t think I’ve ever been super “wild” at any PCS event, but last year during the People’s Climate March in Washington, some other students and I ran into Bill Nye and I got a selfie with him so I suppose that was pretty wild.

What’s your favorite form of government?

Anything that gives me Taco Tuesday. What does this have to do with Conservation Society?

Nothing. How do you feel about democracy? Don’t you think sometimes we’d just be better off putting on “totalitarian regime mode” for a bit?

Are you trying to say something about PCS?

Moving on. Who is the Ellen to your Noah?

Noah is the Ellen to my Noah.



* Sole senior member who actually shows up to stuff