Inside ASCSU: Where the grass is greener

Christina Vessa

Three days per week, Hanna Johnson wakes up at 4 a.m. in order to be rowing on Horsetooth Reservoir by 5 a.m. sharp. As a member on the CSU Crew rowing team, Hanna is an early riser, but even though she’s up before the crack of dawn most days, she still manages to make a major impact on sustainability-related efforts as the Director of Environmental Affairs with ASCSU.

When she started getting involved with climate advocacy as a freshman, she realized that it may just be the largest humanitarian disaster of our lifetime. Climate change and how it impacts poorer communities inspired her to pursue a political science degree.


Hanna Johnson, a sophomore political science major, is the Director of Environmental Affairs for ASCSU. (Christina Vessa | Collegian)

Being from Greeley, Hanna says she’d like to take some of the current environmentally-friendly initiatives seen here in Fort Collins back home. Since her older brothers studied and live in town, she roomed with them freshman year and rode the bus every single day to campus. Hanna came from a small high school where her graduating class was 65 people, so coming to CSU was overwhelming at first.

Quickly, she felt as if there was a community for everyone to enjoy and fit in on campus.

“I think anyone can come to CSU and find their place,” Hanna said.

Being involved with extracurricular activities including the Climate Reality Project, the German club, CSU Climate Action, Students United for Reproductive Justice and an intramural soccer team, she had the opportunity to develop her passions pretty quickly.

At first, Hanna was interested in the judicial branch of ASCSU. After developing her passions for environmental sustainability, she knew the Department of Environmental Affairs in the Executive Branch was the right fit when she applied last spring.

Giving back to the students helps Hanna learn more about how our campus has been striving for sustainability. Practicing environmental affairs through ASCSU is a small-scale version of what this position may look like on the city or state level.

“Engaging with students specifically,” Hanna said. “I think the most important thing is educating people about why environmental initiatives are important and having that amplified through student government is something I am interested in.”

Like many others in ASCSU, Hanna first felt like she was in over her head, but knew she had the tools she needed to make things better.

“I first thought, ‘this is a really intense job,’” she said. “(But) pretty quickly, I felt like I could get the ball rolling.”

Since she took office in May, Hanna has hit the ground running. She’s the chair of the Alternative Transportation Fee Advisory Board and sits on the Campus Bicycle Advisory Committee. Among other things, she is creating a coalition for student sustainability organizations and working on a Campus Sustainability Forum on Dec. 6.


ATFAB currently manages the contract between Transfort and ASCSU because student fees pay for bus passes. Hanna and the board are re-negotiating the contract this year, along with a list of nearly 40 projects that need funding eventually. Some of those projects include bike share through ZipBike, a bike repair shop, trail expansion and more. Hanna welcomes any student who is passionate about sustainability and alternative transportation to visit ATFAB every other Tuesday evening in the ASCSU Office Complex at 6:30 p.m.

As you can tell, she’s a busy woman with high aspirations. Next semester, goals for the Department of Environmental Affairs include investigating fair trade Forever Green t-shirts, raising awareness of how to compost and getting students excited about Earth Day.

ASCSU Deputy Chief of Staff and Collegian Blogger Christina Vessa can be reached online at or on Twitter at @ChrissyVessa.