Shannon Meehan '18

Shannon Meehan '18

Majors: Environmental studies and biology

Why did you choose to study environmental studies and biology?

I spent a lot of my childhood outside. Whether I was chasing bugs with my brother, going on walks with my dogs, playing soccer, or letting my imagination run wild with my friends, I always had a blast being outdoors. As I grew up, I began to learn about the many human-caused ailments our natural world is experiencing and couldn’t ignore the frustration this brought me. I chose to study biology and environmental studies because I want to devote my life to helping the world I am so madly in love with.

What experiences in the Environmental Studies Department have been most valuable?

I am thankful for the environmental studies faculty at Luther, who have been both helpful and inspiring to me. They don’t merely ask “What is the problem?” They ask “Why is this happening?” or “How can we address this problem?” These questions have refined my critical thinking skills and allowed me to apply what I learn in the classroom to real-life situations.

I also appreciate the support my professors have shown me. Not only have they helped me understand concepts we discuss in class, but they make themselves available to chat when I feel overwhelmed by the world’s problems. Having professors willing to talk about a shared passion for the world has helped me focus my thoughts on how to live an impactful life.

Were you ever involved in a research project?

I worked with professor Kirk Larsen and a Luther alumnus to conduct summer research on the breeding habitat of the migratory monarch butterfly in northeast Iowa. The project also connected to research being conducted at Iowa State University. We were outside almost every day, meandering through prairies and identifying the butterflies in those habitats, or looking for monarch eggs and caterpillars on study plots in Luther’s Community Garden. This research was conducted to determine how common the monarch is in northeast Iowa and if monarch caterpillars prefer to feed on a certain species of milkweed.

Have you participated in a study-away program?

During January Term, I took an environmental policy course at Holden Village in Chelan, Washington. I spent three weeks there, surrounded by mountains, seven feet of snow, and some truly genuine people. There was a strong encouragement for the students to learn the stories of each of the Holden community members. I also loved that there was always someone willing to venture out among the snowy mountains with me. It was an unforgettable month.

What do you hope to do with your degree after graduation?

My goal is to save the world! In all seriousness, I’m not entirely sure what I will end up doing. Graduate school is certainly an option to consider, but I don’t know if that’s what I want to pursue immediately after Luther. Maybe I’ll take part in land management with a forest preserve, get involved with an environmental non-profit organization, or look into opportunities like the Peace Corps. What I do know is that I want to have a direct positive impact on the world around me.

What is one class that all students should take, regardless of major?

I would recommend taking Environmental Philosophy! This class opened my mind to a new way of thinking about the world, which has allowed me to become more understanding of differing viewpoints. Learning what other people believe led me to discover some of my own core values.


I play the clarinet in Concert Band and I run cross country and distance track. I am grateful for all of these opportunities. They have each allowed me to meet many wonderful people.