September means that fall equinox is officially, nearly, here (on 9/23 to be exact) – it’s hard to believe! And it’s even harder to believe that it’s been nearly a year since our September Climate Hero of the Month Ruth Hund joined the ranks and began making her incredible impact!
In Ruth’s words, she has loved nature and the environment ever since she can remember. She decided not to pursue a degree in Wildlife Biology because she wanted to eat as an adult, and instead earned a degree in Biochemistry from Colorado State University. She taught for three years at a boarding school before going back to her true love, the environment. She earned a master’s degree in Environmental Science and Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. She worked in the drinking water industry as a project and program manager for 9 years.
Once Ruth’s son came of school age, she made the decision to go back to teaching, so their schedules would coincide. Now an empty nester, Ruth has fully returned to her first love, the environment.
She retired from teaching a year ago, in part, so that she can help the environment more directly. And almost a year ago when she sat down with Chelsea, Movement Building & Volunteer Director at a local cafe on a cool afternoon, it was evident she meant business about getting involved! And not only that, but she was personable, warm, and great at conveying her passion and expertise in different areas. Some initial steps were sketched out that day and as they say, the rest is history!
One of Ruth’s first big projects was working alongside other volunteers and 350CO staff to help develop content for trainings and present at them, like the Denver Climate Leadership workshop in February this year. Her teaching skills absolutely shined in the sections she lead, and during breaks instead of resting she was chatting with fellow activists. Ruth was absolutely instrumental in the success of the day!
Around that same time too Ruth started an internship with us working in policy, rule makings, and regulatory action with Heidi Leathwood, our Climate Policy Analyst. “Ruth’s energy for this work is unflagging and inspiring,” says Heidi. “Ruth always contributes valuable ideas and questions to any discussion, helping to ensure quality work. She has a contagious enthusiasm that helps as she works with other volunteers and helps lead events.”
Ruth has serious movement building energy, and gosh is she good at it! Singlehandedly she has made connections with youth activists in the community and brought them into the movement, even going to speak at schools in the Denver area and support students in their activism journey. She has engaged with the community multiple times while tabling at different local events, finding ways to connect with anyone, regardless of how familiar they are with the climate issues we’re working on. And in March, she was one of the voices that stood up with Third Act and others as we peacefully protested in front of a Chase bank in Denver. What’s even more is she helped bring the action together by borrowing her sister’s truck so we could transport art there that was adhered on heavy plywood.
And as if she wasn’t doing enough, Ruth also applied (and was selected for!) for the 350 Metro Denver Team Leadership Council. Since then monthly meetings are elevated by her presence and ideas. She is always one of the first to volunteer to take on something, and it’s contagious in getting others to act sometimes. “Since getting involved with 350 Colorado only about a year ago, Ruth has been a crucial member of the policy committee, Denver leadership council, Suncor Action Committee, and the 350 Denver team in general,” says Vic Sunkel, 350 Metro Denver Team Coordinator. “Ruth is always willing to learn or teach others in a kind, patient, and compassionate way.”
“Her determination, hard work, professional experience, and willingness to see this movement succeed give me hope and joy every time I work with her.” – Vic Sunkel, 350 Metro Denver Team Coordinator
She has donated during fundraisers, gotten a letter to the editor published in her local newspaper, and has likely done so much more than we can even attempt to capture in this post. “Her ability to leap in to accomplish absolutely anything that needs doing, from commenting and testifying at agencies and the legislature, to event planning and organization, to administrative help, to facilitating meetings, to writing talking points, toolkits and emails (and more!) has helped me accomplish far more than I ever could have without her,” says Heidi.
So when Ruth isn’t tirelessly organizing for a fossil-free future she loves to do anything outdoors, including, hiking, swimming, biking, running, and gardening. She also loves to read and sings in the Evergreen Chorale and their chamber choir, Altezza.
Ruth has given so generously of her time, resources, skills, and passion, and the ripples of her impact have surely spread out farther than we’ll ever know. She shared she ‘loves working with Heidi and the rest of the 350 crew to keep fossil fuels in the ground’ and the feeling is just oh so mutual – thank you Ruth for being a climate hero in every sense of the word! Your leadership and contributions to the movement will be sang from the highest of mountaintops for years to come.