My name is Matt Taylor. I'm from Tennessee. I work at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation – Office of Policy and Planning.
What got you interested in sustainability?
One of my greatest passions in life is spending time outdoors, more specifically whitewater kayaking. I’ve been really fortunate to have lots of great experiences exploring from my kayak. I think folks who place a high value on the environment and outdoors have an inherent interest in conservation and sustainability. I feel like my interest in sustainability as well as my enjoyment in working on sustainability issues, stems from my appreciation for the outdoors and the experiences I have been afforded.
What sustainability, energy, and mobility issues are important to you?
Two of the most important sustainability/energy related issues to me are reducing food waste (more specifically recovering unused food) and increasing low-income energy efficiency programming and access. I really like working on both of these topics because they represent sustainability issues that have immense conservation opportunities associated with them, but also have great potential to help people; whether that is through encouraging the diversion of unused food to the food insecure, or by helping to reduce energy costs burdening some of our most vulnerable segments of the population.
What exciting projects/research are you working on now?
At my current job I have the opportunity to work on everything from low-income energy efficiency issues to environmental regulatory policy and planning projects to sustainability related efforts. The project I am most excited about working on right now is the state of Tennessee’s ongoing efforts to increase awareness around food waste and the massive inefficiencies associated with wasting food. We have already conducted a number of outreach and educational events, developed a $3 million grant offering to fund projects seeking to address food waste/organic waste related issues, and are currently working to launch a statewide branded campaign.
What are your plans for the next five years?
Over the next five years I hope to continue to working on meaningful projects.
What made you want to apply to SISE?
I have been fortunate to be exposed to a number of earth science, conservation, and sustainability topics throughout my educational and professional experiences. However, I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to work in the transportation or transportation-energy sector, so the potential to learn about the transportation sector through an immersive program was exciting. Also my buddy is an alumni and he said it was rad.
What are you most looking forward to doing in the city?
I am looking forward to visiting Chicago for my second time, and it not being winter! I want to explore the Field Museum as well as go back to Dove’s Luncheonette for their brisket.
Do you like cats? If not, are you willing to learn to like cats?
My girlfriend has a cat named Hemingway and it is okay.