Magazine Feature / People

Student helps environment alongside rock music’s greats

When sophomore psychology major Liz Pattison began looking for a work-study position earlier this year, she wanted to make a difference. With Rock the Earth, she found a way to utilize her environmental interests while learning what it takes to run a nonprofit.

“I gained a better understanding of planning, organization and the dedication required,” Pattison says.

Two days a week from January through the summer, Pattison worked in Rock the Earth’s downtown Denver office, updating their membership databases, researching environmental issues and preparing materials for outreach events.

For Rock the Earth, those events are concerts by some of the nation’s best-known rock musicians, including Bonnie Raitt, Jack Johnson, the Dave Matthews Band and the Barenaked Ladies. 

Pattison traveled to Detroit Lakes, Minn., last summer for the four-day 10,000 Lakes Festival. She worked the outreach booth, educating concertgoers on environmental issues and signing up new Rock the Earth members.

“It was a way to work side by side with the music community to gain membership [to Rock the Earth] and educate the public,” Pattison says. “I got to hear music at the same time.”

The festival lineup included String Cheese Incident, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Keller Williams, Medeski, Martin and Wood, and Hot Buttered Rum.

Environmental attorney Marc Ross, Rock the Earth’s founder and executive director, says half a dozen DU students like Pattison have made great contributions to the organization.

“Liz came in before we had our part-time office manager,” Ross says, noting that Pattison helped with office administration and programmatically with membership renewals, research, outreach and education.

Today, as a DU Environmental Team officer, Pattison is helping other DU students find volunteer opportunities with Rock the Earth. She says students can work booths at shows year-round.

“It’s a great way for students to learn about the organization before applying for a summer internship,” she says. 

Ross says Rock the Earth will focus on a year-end membership drive and holiday gift packages through the end of the year. In January, volunteers can get involved in planning Earth Day activities.

Pattison is applying for a Marsico grant so that next summer she can go on tour with Rock the Earth.

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