A Mother for Nature

Anne with sign

Anne Thrall-Nash | Environmental Economics and Policy | Sustainability

Hillsboro, Oregon | Class of 2022

First Generation Bachelor's Degree Student

Changing Climate Change

The family I grew up in doesn't particularly value environmental stewardship or sustainability, but when I started my own family I began to feel a deep responsibility to positively impact the planet. I sold my car and began cycling my kids around on a cargo bicycle and my husband switched to motorcycle commuting. I became fascinated with the way the built environment around us either helped or hindered our attempts to lower our carbon footprint. We lived in California at the time and we were in the middle of a historic 5 year long drought which filled me with climate change dread. A job change for my husband meant a move back to Oregon and a chance to finish the education I had started 16 years before. I reenrolled at Portland Community College and began classes in Environmental Studies. A policy class cemented that that was the direction I wanted to go. After graduating with my associate's degree in 2019, I transferred to OSU's Environmental Economics and Policy degree because it seemed like the perfect way to learn about the systems that have gotten us to this point and how to change them. I added the Sustainability degree shortly thereafter. I hope to spend my professional life positively impacting economic and governance systems so that humans and non-humans can thrive on our beautiful, precious planet. 

Action through Advocacy


During my studies as OSU I have become increasingly interested in governance and the social aspects of sustainability. I completed an externship with ECONorthwest in the summer of 2021 researching affordable housing policy in Oregon. I also participated in the city of Hillsboro's Civic Leadership Academy in the spring of 2021 to learn more about local governance and was recently appointed to Hillsboro's Planning Commission. Learning more about local decision-making processes and how these processes affect sustainability goals has been really interesting and a good application of all I have learned in economics and sustainability here at OSU. I hope to help my city reach its sustainability goals and help our city provide housing to all who need it with my time on the Planning Commission. 

Perserverence through the Pandemic

Overcoming bias against higher education from my family of origin has been a struggle, but thankfully I have a very supportive husband and friends to cheer me on. The main challenge for me has been the COVID-19 pandemic. I only had one normal term at OSU before the pandemic started in winter of 2020 and I became one of millions of caregivers trying to balance family needs with their own education and career goals. Like so many here at OSU and all over the world I have struggled to keep going in the face of home schooling children, loss of childcare, and increased anxiety for our family's safety. Time management has been a day-by-day balancing act, but I am proud of myself that I have maintained my GPA, even when that meant doing schoolwork with one hand while a child napped in my other arm.