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Hallie Nelson — Student

William Olson Student Achievement Awardee

Auburn University, Auburn, AL

Photo of Hallie Nelson

Hallie Nelson received the William Olson Student Achievement Award.

Hallie Nelson is a senior majoring in Ecological Engineering and minoring in Spanish, Sustainability, and Community and Civic Engagement. There are many things to admire about Hallie: her commitment to living a life and building a career that serves the world; her eagerness to gain knowledge, skill, and experience to fulfill that aspiration; her engagement in substantive causes; her impact; her courage; her action-taking nature; her warmth and grace; and her talent as a leader.

Hallie has actively served the campus and surrounding communities throughout her college career. For the past three years, Hallie has been an intern in the Office of Sustainability, serving in a wide variety of ways. Hallie has been social media and communications lead for the office, developed content for a green event guide, and planned student outreach events. This year Hallie serves on a team developing employee outreach and engagement programs, does blog writing, and is a reliable go-to person in just about everything the office does. She has served in a variety of positions to foster women’s leadership and community service, and she has also been a delegate for sustainability in the Student Government Association, where she was Director of Facilities.

Hallie has participated in several sustainability-related extracurricular programs. She has worked with the River Region Food Policy Council in Montgomery on food policy issues. In 2015, she spent the summer in Iceland learning about organic greenhouses and sustainability. During the summer of 2016, Hallie worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta conducting research and analyzing the effects of environmental conditions on human health.

Perhaps Hallie’s signature contribution is her work with Auburn University’s Campus Kitchens Project (CKP). CKP is a student-operated food recovery and distribution project. The group has substantial responsibilities, including the collection of unserved food from campus dining halls and local restaurants; safe storage of food; creating individual meals and packaging them; fundraising; and recruiting and managing students to package and deliver meals. Hallie began with CKP three years ago as a volunteer, became a shift leader, and was elected President in the winter of 2016.

Under Hallie’s leadership, CKP has taken significant steps to improve an already effective organization. Hallie designed and implemented systems to strengthen the organization’s leadership structure and leadership development systems. The results are telling: with more volunteers and 50 new committee members, CKP is able to accomplish so much more in fighting food waste and hunger. CKP grew from a team of 15 members to a team of 30 shift leaders. This enabled a significant increase in the amount of food coming into the kitchen.

Now CKP consistently recovers 1,000 pounds of food each month, even reaching 2,000 pounds twice. During 2016, CKP recovered over 14,700 pounds of food, worked with 15 client agencies, and served over 12,000 meals to more than 500 food-insecure people in the Auburn, Opelika, and Tuskegee communities. In the spring of 2017, the CKP at Auburn University was named national Kitchen of the Year.

Perhaps as important as what Hallie has accomplished is the way she has done it in her own personal style and leadership approach. Hallie has a unique combination of vision, passion, aspiration, commitment, warmth, confidence, gentleness, and approachability. People want to work with her. She is nurturing and fun to be around. She is cheerful, easygoing, and hopeful. She inspires confidence in others. She has an ability to organize and develop strong teams and take effective action. With her quiet, confident strength she creates possibilities and conditions where teams thrive and accomplish significant outcomes.