Published: Dec. 15, 2020 By
Cole Dickerson, Sustainable Food Systems

Portrait of Cole Dickerson“I am the Co-Founder of ABC Provisions, LLC, which is an online food retail space for Colorado products. It all started when I was doing freelance web development for my partner, who was planning to transition her brick and mortar retail space fully online. I was asked to come aboard, and we co-founded a business!

Starting this business has been a great experiment, all of it beginning around the time that I was admitted into the MENV program. I wasn't confident that I wanted to pursue this particular entrepreneurial project in online food retail in the long term, so I decided to accept my admissions offer. I've definitely been grateful for the perspective that the business has given me—I feel I've been much more able to understand our lessons on the local food system and leverage points for food system transformation because of it.

One lesson I've learned along the way is that my ethical values have often been challenged by a drive to make profit. I probably don't have to explain this one too much, but I find myself to be motivated by my values and it's been really difficult to make profit motivated business decisions. This has been necessary as we started with little to no initial capital to build the brand around shared community values, but hard nonetheless. If I start another business, I want it to be intentional about the positive impact it can have on improving equity or humans' perceived connection to the land. The MENV program thus far has been invaluable in providing me with the knowledge base and familiarity with relevant leading organizations that would make the above endeavor possible.

Some final words of wisdom: if you have an idea and the flexibility to pursue it without high risk, I say go for it. Know your intentions, the people you want to go into business with and how you expect to scale. This is not to say that ideas won't be developed along the way—they will be—but there are plenty of roadblocks and challenges you'll face that are only exacerbated by poor organization. It's all a learning experience, and whatever the outcome you'll gain a unique perspective that has immense value. Onward!”


Samantha Thywissen, Environmental and Natural Resources Policy

Samantha Thywissen Portrait“There are a lot of wonderful humans who have dedicated themselves to an astounding variety of environmental pursuits. I am the Publisher and Co-Editor of the Outer Cape Environmental Awareness Newsletter (OCEAN), which seeks to share those environmentally-focused stories and innovative ideas from local and global sources in a manner that makes the information accessible and enjoyable.

I’ve always found it easy to connect with nature, so I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to turn my love for environmental stewardship into professional aspirations. My advise for other aspiring entrepreneurs: get creative, network with similar groups, and be willing to learn new skills to help your project or business get seen!

The settings that I’ve worked in previously all operate within the realm of environmental science and policy structures. I joined MENV because I wanted to have a deeper grasp of the framework of policy we are working within and possibly “hack” that framework to leverage better environmental outcomes. I hope to form lifelong network connections here as well as friends, and so far I'm really enjoying being exposed to all the new career possibilities from peers, faculty, and guest speakers.”


Hayden Siekman, Environmental and Natural Resources Policy

Hayden Siekman Portrait“I am the Co-Founder of Entrepreneurial Solutions, LLC, which is a boutique business consulting firm owned and operated by graduate students at CU Boulder.

I got involved in this project because there was a shortage of internship opportunities this past summer due to the pandemic. Two of my classmates and I didn't want to sit on our couches all summer, so we decided to start a business and apply our learnings from the past year in a real world context. It's been an incredibly rewarding project so far, and it has also become an awesome recruitment story to tell.

Building the business taught me that I don't need to have prior professional experience to succeed in a new endeavour, and it made me feel confident in my ability to learn a lot, very quickly, in a new area of study. During my time with MENV, I hope to gain continued understanding of how systems work, as well as an inside perspective on the role that entrepreneurs can play in order to shift those systems to create a better world.

Some final words of wisdom for aspiring entreprenuers: you don't have to be an expert in anything to provide value. As long as you have the willingness to work hard, ask questions and find creative solutions, you can succeed.”


Korey McQuaide, Environmental and Natural Resources Policy

Beekeeper kneeling in front of a hive“I am a beekeeper, and I initially started the endeavour as an internship for my undergrad program. As I learned more and more, it was impossible to stay away from the work. I had a great mentor that had so much to teach—with the passion to go along with it. The experience taught me that there are always new things to be learned, and the only limitation is how much time you're willing to put into it!

I have always been passionate about the outdoors, and my beekeeping project helped me realize that I can play a large role in preserving everything special about it. I saw the MENV program as an opportunity to educate myself even further and make a bigger impact. I hope to gain valuable experience here through working with other professionals on mutual goals. Between MENV's wide array of networking possibilities and their passion for the environment, it is the perfect place for me to grow.

Finally, there were many times where I was told that even if I were to become a large commercial beekeeper, I wouldn't make much money. But that wasn't what it was about for me. It was about enjoying the process of learning something new and making a small difference. I fell in love with something that I had never even thought of before. My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs: if you know what you love and want to pursue it, do it. There is nothing stopping you.”