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PARK CITY, Utah. — Emily Quinton’s roots in caring for her natural surroundings stem from growing up in the coastal town of Wells, Maine, where she enjoyed the ocean and her travels to explore the state’s interior mountains. Quinton is bringing a collaborative mindset and holistic approach to her role as Summit County’s newest Green Queen. She says her focus will be on the “big three” of solid waste, energy, and transportation, and looks forward to bringing her passion for sustainability to Summit County.
“I feel honored to be moving into this position with the county where the council has adopted some really aggressive [sustainability] goals both for government operation and county-wide,” said Quinton, who started her new role last month. “That really does start to tip the scale and create larger and systemic change.”
Taking a closer look at Summit County’s communities, government, schools, and organizations to assess the ways shifting individual sustainability goals can create collective change is on Quinton’s docket.
“As the climate conversation evolves, I hope to be participating in and facilitating that conversation,” Quinton said. “We will need to be thinking about resilience and adaptation, ensuring that our systems, built environment, people and the natural environment can adapt to and be resilient in the face of climate change.”
Quinton’s passion for sustainability grew during her college years at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. She got involved outside the classroom in the college’s Green Campus student club which jump-started the school’s use of recycling bins and other environmentally focused advocacy work.
“At that point, I really grew to be interested in how an organization, be it a college or a local government, commits to doing action around sustainability, and who’s responsible for following through on those commitments,” Quinton said.
Her interest in the sustainability field continued to grow from there, “planting the seed” for her career. Quinton worked in the environmental nonprofit field in the Bay Area before her most recent position at Portland State University in Oregon, where she was the Sustainability Program and Partnership Coordinator.
“It has taken me a while, but now I really enjoy how interdisciplinary sustainability is,” Quinton said. “I love that sustainability encourages us to accept that things are complex and interconnected and to think of that when we are making decisions about our energy use or design our buildings.”
Since spending time on the West Coast, her passion has shifted towards the built environment. “While individual behavior is really important and essential to the equation, we really have to look at a systems-wide approach,” she said.
For Summit County residents looking to take their environmental stewardship to the next level, Quinton said it’s about “finding the connections to what you are passionate about. Sustainability really does relate to everything.”