Gabby Voeller ’07

Senior Associate Planner, working on mountain, community, and environmental planning

What are you up to now?

I am currently a Senior Associate Planner at a planning firm called SE Group in Leadville, Colorado. We work on mountain, community, and environmental planning, working with municipalities with community development issues. For example, we recently worked on an environmental permitting project with a Ski Resort to assist them in developing a new Gondola on National Forest Lands. 

How has your decision to pursue an Environmental Studies major at Bates Impacted your current career?

After my experience at Bates as an ES major, I was incredibly interested in the natural world and how communities and humans interact with the natural world. I want to learn more about planning, so I took classes at USM and ended up falling in love with it. I went to Cornell and earned my master’s in Planning. I eventually worked in Denver, assisting with designs of expansion to city bike paths. Later I was able to ride on those bike paths I had created. Ultimately what I learned as an ES major, culminated in my interest in expanding my knowledge of human, and environmental interactions and ultimately became my job! 

What was the most rewarding aspect of being an Environmental Studies student at Bates?

I really enjoyed the fieldwork portions of my classes. Going off campus to learn about landscapes in Maine just for a class was pretty cool. Also, when I was a student there were only 8 ES majors in my year, so I was able to have a lot of attention from professors and create lasting friendships with them.

Any fond memories of the Environmental Studies department?

One of my most memorable memories was Professor Carl Straub. On the first day of his Environmental Ethics class, we walked in and he just said “Alright, draw ethics,” and left us for 30 minutes to draw. I didn’t know what to do! He just stood at the front of the class and drew along with us. He was honestly a legendary professor who you would stay up till 2 am working on a paper, and if you received a B+ it felt like an A+ because of how hard he made you work for it. After he passed away, my friends and I exchanged emails discussing our fond memories of him.

Any advice for current students trying to decide on a major or in general?

I would say that your journey will not be linear. I chose the ES major because I wasn’t ready to commit to exactly what I wanted to do. Just because you graduate with that degree, it’s not the end of your journey, it’s just the beginning of figuring out where your ES journey will take you. There is so much you can do with the major so the opportunities are endless.