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Sophomore shines at sustainability conference

Sheridan Ex poses with her raffle prize from the This Way to Sustainability Conference. Photo credit: Shannon Miller

As students lined up to register for this year’s sustainability conference in Bell Memorial Union, they may have noticed Sheridan Ex, a sophomore recreation major, whizzing around in a royal blue top, clipboard in hand.

Though she coordinated the conference with two other students, Ex led the pack. She is incredibly motivated and organized, said Avalon Brown, her co-coordinator and first-year biology major.

Ex’s motivation and organization helped her plan the conference, which involved lots of phone calls, meetings and heavy-duty shot calling.

When she’s not organizing a sustainability conference, Ex might be planning her mother’s wedding or organizing her blue notebook dedicated to figuring out what she and her dad need for their summer retreat to the High Sierra.

This year’s This Way to Sustainability Conference focused on sustainable food and agriculture. With 150 speakers, 90 presentations and 1,400 attendees — more than last year’s — visitors could have learned about coffee, genetically modified organisms or social media with an environmental edge.

Ex wasn’t always the environmental type.
Her passion for sustainability began around middle school and flourished in high school, said Kimberly Ex-Hill, Sheridan’s mom.

As a child, Ex would often play with her mother’s make up, so Randy Ex, her dad, thought his daughter may follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a make-up artist, he said. He never would have expected her to become an advocate for the planet.

“The sustainability, she’s so into it,” Randy Ex said. “When I’m with her and I’m brushing my teeth and I have the water running and she comes over and shuts it off and says, ‘Dad, you can’t do that,’ I never thought that would be her, but she’s right in what she’s saying.”

Ex’s environmental fascination sprouted from Urban Outfitters clothing that highlighted the environment, she said. She looked into it more during high school, but college rooted this passion.

She took “Introduction to Environmental Science” with Eric Willard last year and learned what she could do to help the environment, she said. She also learned about the struggles within the environmental movement, including fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, and mountaintop removal.

“It kind of shows the seriousness of what is going on when you don’t see it everyday,” Ex said. “It showed me that it’s really happening. It’s ruining communities.”

Now, Ex makes sure she washes her laundry with cold water, takes shorter showers and keeps her toaster unplugged.

Even if her friends find it annoying, Ex points out when they are behaving unsustainably.

CJ Howell, a junior recreation major, is one of those friends. He once made the mistake of throwing a receipt on the ground with Ex around.

“She freaked out on me and walked back and picked up the receipt and walked to a trash can and threw it away, which kind of made me feel bad and rethink that,” Howell said.

When they’re not watching “Arrested Development” or “Breaking Bad” together, Howell and Ex might be out on a pizza run, he said. If the wind blows away a bunch of napkins, Ex would make sure to pick up every one of them.

Howell hopes to be witness to Sheridan’s future, too, he said. He envisions Ex owning an event-planning business.

Whether she ends up doing that or working as a chief sustainability officer for a corporation, her friends, family and Jordyn Ellorin, a first-year animal science major, agree that she has a bright future ahead of her.

“I’m excited to see where her career goes because I know she’s going to do great, especially after seeing her work on this conference, and I hope that she’s still my friend, so she can plan my wedding and my things because she’s going to rock it,” Ellorin said.

Yessenia Funes can be reached at [email protected] or @yessfun on Twitter.

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