Shannon Pinc - Environment and Sustainability Coordinator at St. Louis Park, MN

Shannon Pinc - Environment and Sustainability Coordinator at St. Louis Park, MN

Shannon Pinc is the Environment and Sustainability Coordinator for the City of St. Louis Park.  Her interest in protecting natural resources led her to pursue an undergraduate degree in biology from St. Catherine’s University and a master’s degree in environmental management systems from the University of Minnesota.  Her goal of educating others on the importance of protecting natural resources and maintaining them for future generations is a lifelong passion. 

Shannon Joins Sustainable Nation to Discuss:

  • History of sustainability leadership at St. Louis Park

  • Climate Action Planning at the city level

  • Involving the youth in the sustainability movement

  • Advice and recommendations for sustainability leaders

Shannon's Final Five Question Responses:

What is one piece of advice you would give other sustainability professionals that might help them in their careers?

I get questions along this line quite a bit. I have a lot of people who contact me wondering how I got my job and what should I do to get there? The question I get most frequently is, "Should I get a degree in sustainability?" or  "Should I go back and get my master's degree in sustainability?" What I say to that question is, "If you are already working on that kind of degree, great!" But if you have not already pursued that, maybe to consider what they already have expertise in. It could be communications. It could be design. It could be chemistry. It could be supply chain and a million other jobs where you can impact sustainability, and what you already do by adding that lens into how you operate to do your job. Sometimes I think education's the answer, other times it's to find how you can make change within what you're already doing or what you already have expertise.

For those who may be wanting to focus more in sustainability or maybe even do a career change, then I do recommend that if they're not interested in going back for a degree but are struggling to get kind of in that first job that perhaps they might want to look at some certification programs that would give them a little bit more credibility on the resume to show that they've got strong understanding and ability to implement sustainable principles.

What are you most excited about right now in the world of sustainability?

Even though I don't focus much anymore on waste, it has always been a passion of mine to avoid this problem of all the waste we create. The circular economy is kind of like my fun little topic that I look into and read about because I just love seeing the different businesses and partnerships with universities and researchers that are going on to stop the take, make dispose type of mentality and try to engineer that waste out of that system. That's always been a real interest of mine because I started out in heavy manufacturing as a consultant and working on a manufacturing events and things like that and trying to engineer out these risks and these costly on processes that produce a lot of waste. I get very excited looking at the circular economy topics.

What is one book you would recommend sustainability professionals read?

That's a tricky question. Right now, I have not been reading a lot of books about sustainability specifically. I have been reading more on how to stay positive because there's a lot of anxiety and stress for people in our field right now with so many rollbacks of environmental protections, continued climate change denial and unknown future legislations and things like renewables. I've been reading Declutter your Mind by S.J Scott and Barrie Davenport. To be able to keep me positive and focused on the job at hand and not get mired down in how frustrating it can be in the larger federal level where things are not happening. If I were to recommend any other book that was focused on sustainability, I would want to know more about what level of expertise that person is at or what kind of challenge they're having with their job, before I would want to respond with any particular book.

What are some of your favorite resources or tools that really help you in your work?

You asked about the green step cities program and that's actually definitely one of them. I also get some great information from the International Society of Sustainability professionals and their webinars. I'm looking at their credentialing program as well for sustainability professionals and considering studying for that exam myself. I'd like to promote that going forward. I also work a lot with USGBC, so the Green Building Council LEED principles and ideas, I'm very involved with the local chapter even though I don't do LEED buildings. We do principles and we have a green building policy that allows any kind of project that's going to be having some sort of funding attached to it to adhere to that green building policy. Therefore, US Green Building Council LEED program or other green programs are to be used as part of that assessment and following in line with our policy. Those are some of the resources that I use. The resources I have from my peers in the metro area. We share pretty much everything that we feel we can and try to help tailor that to the different challenges and barriers we may have because not all our cities are all the same.

Where can our listeners go to learn more about the work that you are leading at St. Louis Park?

They can go to our regular St Louis Park website, www.stlouispark.org .Then, you can go and look at either our climate action plan page. Our environment and sustainability page. You can search for me on there, but I don't have my own page on that site. I'm also on twitter @pinc_pinc and on LinkedIn.