WSES History | Webster University

WSES History

Generations of Impact

Webster Students for Environmental Sustainability was founded in 2010 by Andrea Harper and Lauren Pattan to educate students on global climate change and provide opportunities to connect with and learn about the environment. Over the past five years, WSES has been instrumental in championing sustainability at Webster University and has worked with student organizations at other universities to combat climate change in the state of Missouri.

2013-14: Presidents Jon Strauser & Valerie Martin

  • In Fall of 2014, Jon Strauser transitioned to become the fifth President of WSES. He also served on the Student Government Association.
  • In October 2013, WSES member Kris Parsons attended PowerShift 2013 in Pittsburgh, PA along with many other students from environmental groups at other Missouri universities. 
  • In November 2013, WSES members fasted for up to 7 days to raise awareness for victims of Typhoon Haiyan and the connection between major natural disasters and global climate change. Students participated in a global movement using the tag #FastingForTheClimate. WSES also raised over $600 for the Red Cross of the Philippines. Students that fasted included Jon Strauser, Katie Maxwell, Gaby Deimeke and Kris Parsons.
  • In Janurary 2014, Valerie Martin transitioned to become the sixth President of WSES. 
  • In January 2014, WSES members attended the Spring MO<3 Retreat at the University of Missouri-Columbia. At this retreat, Webster students created an organization plan for the upcoming semester and explored a variety of issues in the climate change and climate justice movements. At this retreat, the MO<3 group that had been functioning informally since 2011 decided to elect three Directors and to move forward as the Missouri Coalition for Climate Justice. WSES attendees at this event included Valerie Martin, Tess Holtmeyer, Charles Whitehead, Jared Campbell, Ethan Stohs, Katie Maxwell and alumnus Kris Parsons.

2012-13: President Lindsey Heffner

  • In November 2012, to celebrate America Recycles Day, WSES and the recycling program held a freecycle event on in the Sunnen Lounge.
  • WSES attended the Fall MO <3 Retreat at Missouri State University in November 2012. Webster attendees included Jon Strauser, Eleka Smith, Taijun Waters, Lindsey Heffner and Kris Parsons.
  • In December 2012, WSES members attended a University of Missouri Board of Curators meeting in support of the Beyond Coal campaign conducted by our friends at Mizzou. Their campaign took multiple years and was successful in the end of getting the Board to commit to shutting down the coal plant on the Mizzou campus. WSES attendees at this meeting included Jon Strauser, Eleka Smith, Kris Parsons and Julia Kalkbrenner.
  • In February 2013, WSES hosted the Spring MO<3 Retreat at Webster University and hosted attendees from many other environmental groups at other Missouri universities. WSES President Lindsey Heffner lead the retreat organization and WSES attendees included Jon Strauser, Eleka Smith, Taijun Waters and Kris Parsons.
  • At the end of 2013, Eleka Smith was elected as the fourth President of WSES and Jon Strauser was elected Vice-President.

2011-12: President Lindsey Heffner

  • WSES members planted a rain garden on campus near the Sam Priest House in August 2011. Participants included Lindsey Heffner, Erin Hindalong, Zach Mason, Andrea Harper, Kevin Chau, Becca Ryan, Kris Parsons, Robbie Speers, Dana Gruber and advisor Jeff Depew.
  • WSES attended the Fall MO <3 Retreat at the University of Missouri - Kansas City in October 2011. Webster attendees included Kevin Chau, Erin Hindalong, Lorena Macias and Kris Parsons.
  • In the Fall 2011 Delegate's Agenda, WSES members Erin Hindalong and Kris Parsons presented the need for a University Sustainability Action Plan to be developed by the Sustainability Coalition with student input. The plan was centered around the goal of reaching 100% renewable energy by 2030.
  • In September 2011, WSES students attended the annual meeting of Citizens for Modern Transit with faculty and staff members. The University purchased a table in support of the organization and students attended to learn more about public transit and techniques used by other cities that might help improve public transportation in St. Louis. WSES attendees included Lindsey Heffner, Kris Parsons and Claire Luning.
  • In October 2011, WSES members attended Midwest PowerShift in Cleveland, OH. Thousands of young people converged in Cleveland, Ohio. Midwest Power Shift was an epic turning point in the fight for climate justice where it matters most; in a region that has been overshadowed by dirty energy projects, corporate politics and ‘dying cities’ for too long. WSES attendees included Zach Mason, Julian Williams, Kate Rochester, Erin Hindalong, Justin Raymundo, Jeff Wilhite, Kevin Chau, Dana Gruber, Lorena Macias, Andrea Harper, Greg Thomas, Mikey Medwin and Kris Parsons.
  • In November 2011, three Webster university students and an alumna traveled to Washington, D.C. in hopes of influencing Obama’s impending decision on extending the Keystone XL oil pipeline. WSES attendees to the #NOKXL protest included Kevin Chau, Mikey Medwin, Kris Parsons and alumnus Andrea Harper. Two reporters from the Webster Journal also accompanied the students on the trip and produced an article and video of the protest.
  • In February 2012, WSES put on the 2012 Sustainability Week, including speakers, films and events on campus all week. 
  • In April 2012, WSES participated in an Earth Day Fair at Webster University. 

2010-11: Co-Presidents Andrea Harper & Lauren Pattan

  • Webster Students for Environmental Sustainability is founded by Andrea Harper and Lauren Pattan, who then serve as Co-Presidents. Professor Jeff Depew served as the Faculty Advisor and continues to do so.
  • WSES members Andrea Harper, Lauren Pattan, Kris Parsons & Dana Gruber attended the Show-Me Sustainability Conference at Maryville University. There they met students and organizers they would work with for years to come on advancing the sustainability agenda in Missouri and the nation.
  • In February 2011, WSES performed a waste audit, including a dumpster dive. Fifteen people joined in the effort.
  • In the Spring 2011 Delegate's Agenda, WSES members Kris Parsons, Dana Gruber and Matt Woodson presented the need for a University Sustainability Coordinator. Their request was met the following year with the transfer of a part-time employee to that position.
  • WSES organized a group of 21 students to attend PowerShift 2011 in Washington, D.C. The national PowerShift conference attracts more than 10,000 youth leaders from every walk of life — college students, young environmental justice leaders, DREAMers, young people of faith, young workers — come together to learn from one another, to build and launch strategic campaigns in their own communities. Power Shift launched hundreds of sustained campaigns and mass actions to demand climate justice. The Webster trip was coordinated by Kris Parsons and Chelse Williams. Webster attendees included: Andrea Harper, Chelse Williams, Kris Parsons, Lindsey Heffner, Erin Hindalong, Kevin Chau, Hannah Fisher-Forman, Akshaya Sharma, Zach Mason, Tony Laurence, Sara Sabaa, Brendan Kamper, Julia Hahn, Trish Stoverink, Erin Sappington, Christina Johnston, Jorge El-Azar, Lorena Macias, Lauren Beck, Dana Gruber, and Mikey Medwin.
  • In July 2011, WSES members attended the first MO<3 retreat, organized by the students and activists they met at PowerShift. They camped out and discussed climate change activism and the future of the group. WSES attendees included Andrea Harper, Sara Sabaa, Erin Hindalong, Tony Laurence, Kevin Chau and Dana Gruber.
  • At the end of 2011, Lindsey Heffner is elected as the next President of WSES and Kris Parsons is elected Vice-President.


  • SGA representative Lauren Flecke presented to the University Administration via the Delegate's Agenda that the University needed to establish a Sustainability Coalition to address all sustainability concerns and to fund projects. The Coalition was later created and student representatives served on it.