Hi there! My name is Haley Burns—I’m enthusiastically joining the Environmental Initiative team as the new Agriculture Program Manager!
My interest in food systems began back in high school after reading the book “Eating Animals” to better understand the rising popularity of Meatless Mondays. I was fascinated by the magnitude of the food system’s role in just about every issue on Earth, be it economic inequality, international politics, environmental health, climate change, etc. I continue to be perplexed and motivated by the complexities of this system, making it my mission both in hobby and career to influence changes within the food system that positively impact social and economic health and the environment.
I studied Public Health at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. There I researched urban food access, managed the campus farm, led backpacking trips, and worked with staff and faculty on campus-wide food initiatives. After college, I served as an AmeriCorps member with FoodCorps at an elementary school in Washington, D.C. where I connected curriculum to food, encouraged vegetable eating in the cafeteria, and played in the school garden. From there, I moved to Houston, TX to start a food systems education program at a public charter middle school. I taught kids how food moved from farm to plate, sprinkling in cooking and gardening along the way. In my most recent position as the Sustainability Coordinator for Aramark (campus dining) at the University of Minnesota, I worked to procure sustainable foods, source compostable products in collaboration with national food chains, and reduce food waste on campus.
After working from different angles within the food system, it’s clear to me that the answer is not in one place, but in many! I’m excited to join Environmental Initiative’s work in bringing diverse perspectives to the table to solve large issues.
Outside of the office, you can find me biking around town, adventuring in nature, or tending to my urban homestead where I bake sourdough, grow lots of food and pollinators, and keep bees.