Meet Kristen Pratt

Kristen is the Sustainability Manager for the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.  In this role, she helps develop exhibits and programming while also improving the Museum’s in-house sustainability efforts.  But her favorite role at the Museum?  She runs the Chicago Conservation Corps (C3), a program that supports 650+ Chicago residents (representing every ward in the city!) as they lead community-based sustainability service projects.  In other words: people in Chicago want to do good things for the environment and their communities, so she helps them.


How long do you think you would survive the zombie apocalypse? Why?

Psht, you want to survive the zombie apocalypse?  Seek out your local sustainability wonks.  We will ROCK that scene with our off-the-grid energy production, stormwater collection devices, home-grown food (and delicious canned preserves from the previous season’s bounty), and penchant for creative reuse.  We’re also pretty big into community building and equality, so we’ll probably do OK at keeping the peace amidst the chaos.

“Sustainable” is basically a synonym for “zombie-proof.”  Bring it, you undead wanderers.

Oh, and I used to be an archery instructor at a Girl Scout camp.  Just call me Daryl Dixon.

If we came over for dinner, what would you prepare for us?

I come from a close-knit, matriarchal, Ukrainian immigrant family.  I have spent many hours in the kitchen with my own personal collection of Seriously Badass Women.  So, I would share my favorite foods that my grandma, mom, and aunts taught me to make: pirohy (the Ukrainian version of pierogi) and holopchi (cabbage rolls stuffed with meat or mushrooms and rice).  Then, I’d probably top it off with some delicious baked good (probably involving chocolate).  

Side note: There will be leftovers.  BYO takeout containers.

What don’t people know about you?

I’m not perfect.  HA!

No, seriously.  I eat meat and drive a car.  I am not the perfect environmentalist.  I believe that sustainability is all about reflecting on your life, determining what you can do to be better to the earth and your fellow humans, then actually doing that thing.  Voltaire said “Perfect is the enemy of good,” and I think this is often the case in the environmental movement. You don’t have to change every aspect of your life to make a difference. What can and will you do?

What’s your craziest idea?

Last year, in the midst of yet another hybrid napping/Netflix marathon, I realized I was not using my limited free time in the most meaningful of ways.  So, I got motivated and made a list of 30 exciting, interesting, challenging, or important things that I’d wanted to do for a long time…then decided to do everything on the list before turning 30.  

Thus: the 30 Before 30 list.  It includes some things that will take some time to complete (like visiting every neighborhood in Chicago or learning Spanish) and some things that will take some planning to complete (like learning to ride a motorcycle or joining a group of Christmas carolers), and most everything on it is intended to involve friends and family.  I am having a blast…even though, yes, it is a little crazy to plan out your free time three years in advance.

Favorite quote?

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

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Photo Credit: Jamie Kelter Davis Photography