UM student discovers passion for the environment


MISSOULA — Zoe Transtrum had no plans to pursue environmental studies when she came to the University of Montana on a football scholarship from her hometown of Boise, Idaho.

Zoe Transtrum had several hands-on learning experiences at UM, including gardening at PEAS Farm

But after taking a course on sustainable communities in her first semester in the fall of 2018, Transtrum was hooked. She went on to earn a double major in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science and Practice and a minor in Climate Change Studies and Ecological Restoration.

“After taking this course my freshman year, I thought that was where I belonged,” Transtrum said. “It introduced all these topics that were completely new to me. And that really appealed to me.”

Over her four years, Transtrum has had several hands-on learning experiences, including an internship at PEAS Farm, an urban, sustainable farm that produces thousands of pounds of fruits and vegetables for the Missoula Food Bank.

Last summer, Transtrum earned college credit through an outdoor course with the Wild Rockies Field Institute, where she trekked through Yellowstone National Park for three weeks. She learned firsthand about the restoration efforts in the park.

“It was three weeks of backpacking and camping all the time and meeting with land managers,” Transtrum said. “I had never hiked before so it was great to learn.”

Peter McDonough, director of the climate change studies program at UM, who has known Transtrum for four years, said he was impressed with its ability to examine major global issues such as climate justice and women’s empowerment. while remaining positive and motivated.

“She has a characteristic combination of intense passion and wry humor about really big issues,” McDonough said. “The result is this powerful yet encouraging presence of mind.

Transtrum’s work in the Climate Change Studies program has directly contributed to sustainability efforts and awareness on campus through projects and his ability to easily connect with people, McDonough said.

“I like to think that the Climate Change Studies program attracts a certain type of student who can emotionally cope with a global crisis and thrive in a supportive community where others are doing the same,” McDonough said. . “Zoe embodies that idea and has been an inspiration to many others on the program.”

Outside of environmental studies, another highlight for Transtrum has been its participation in the Sports Diplomacy: Sport for Social Change exchange program through the Mansfield Center. In the program, Transtrum traveled to Peru in the spring of her freshman year with a group of about 15 people, ranging from high school students to adults. Their goal was to champion gender equality and empower women using football as a platform.

Transtrum, a midfielder for the Griz football team, played football with young girls in Peru and helped organize workshops and training sessions. The Peruvian girls then came to Missoula as part of the bilateral exchange.

“There are so many more hurdles that women have to overcome in order to be able to play sports,” Transtrum said. “It really opened my eyes. It made me really appreciate the opportunity to play football here.

Heidi Blair, program manager at the Mansfield Center who oversees sports diplomacy, said Transtrum has thrived on the program and connected cross-culturally with Peruvian girls using her kind and genuine personality. Transtrum also led and mentored high school students in his group, Blair said.

“Not only is Zoe a skilled and passionate football player, but she has also served in these leadership and teaching roles with humble confidence and grace,” Blair said.

As a Griz football player, Transtrum ended her college career on a high note when the team won the Big Sky Conference Tournament last fall and qualified for the NCAA Women’s Football Tournament.

Transtrum continued to share his love of football by coaching a U12 youth team and playing in adult football leagues. She enjoys being a role model for young players.

“It reminded me that this game can be used for so much more than just competition,” she said.

Transtrum’s other skill is playing the violin, which she has been doing since she was about 4 years old, at the same time she started kicking a soccer ball. Before graduating, she performed in the pit orchestra of the musical “She Loves Me,” produced by UM’s Theater and Music Schools.

As she wraps up her final performances and reflects fondly on her time at UM, Transtrum is excited for all the possibilities that await her. She is interested in careers focused on sustainability or climate change. The two have become strong passions since he arrived on campus.

“I didn’t even know I was interested in getting into the environmental field,” Transtrum said. “But having all these really cool experiences and learning about it here has been so special.”


Contact: Dave Kuntz, UM Director of Strategic Communications, 406-243-5659, [email protected]


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