CivicSpark Climate Fellow Highlight: Zoe Kusnick

What is your role with the Sierra Nevada Alliance? 

I am an AmeriCorps CivicSpark Climate Fellow working with the Alliance. In this role, I work on the Alliance’s Climate Program to conduct research and implement strategies for climate mitigation and adaptation in the Sierra. My focus for this Service Year is working with the City of South Lake Tahoe on the implementation of their Climate Action Plan, which was written by previous CivicSpark Fellows with the Alliance!

Why is the Sierra at risk in the face of climate change? 

Unfortunately, the Sierra is already experiencing the painful impacts of climate change, from dramatically decreased snowpack to increased severity of wildfires. The Sierra holds so much importance in California, and the impacts felt by these mountains are felt by all across the State. The Sierra is a precious and delicate resource, and it is incredibly important that we all work to preserve it.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as a CivicSpark Member?

As a CivicSpark Fellow, I was given the opportunity by the City of South Lake Tahoe to draft and present a Resolution aspiring to the use of 100% local, carbon-free electricity, 24/7, by 2030. After presenting to Council and fielding questions, I had the opportunity to hear impassioned community members make public comments about how important it was for them for the City to make this commitment to bold climate action. The Resolution passed unanimously, and now South Lake Tahoe has the most ambitious renewable energy goal of any city in the country! 

Zoe (fourth from right) after the passing of the City of South Lake Tahoe Climate Resolution.

What makes your work as a CivicSpark Member with the Sierra Nevada Alliance so special?

Working at the Alliance is special because it has given me the opportunity to connect with so many individuals and organizations doing amazing work in our region and beyond. Not only do I get to be inspired and motivated by the Alliance team each day, but I also get a first hand look at the work that all of our member organizations put in behind the scenes. It has been an incredible learning experience and I feel so lucky to be a part of the team.

What is your favorite place in the Sierra and why? 

I grew up camping and backpacking in Yosemite National Park, so that will always hold an incredibly special place in my heart! Whether I am in the valley or deep in the backcountry, I am constantly at awe of the enormity of the mountains and how small they make me feel. It is one of the best feelings in the world to me 🙂

What are your plans for the future after you finish your term with Civic Spark?

I hope to continue to work to preserve the Sierra and beyond, and to continue working to educate and engage people in the amazing work being done to combat climate change. I am especially passionate about working with kids, from giving them access to recreation when they might not otherwise have that access, to increasing climate literacy in schools – anything that can motivate and inspire them to lead lives that respect and repair our environment instead of degrading it.

Learn more about Zoe here.

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