“I have taken multiple leadership courses in hopes of becoming an entrepreneur. I knew most of the technical framework about being a leader, such as how to delegate responsibility, run numbers and how to be an example for others. However, I did not know what being a good leader looked like outside the business world before coming to Merry Lea.

“From my experiences in the sustainability program and time spent at Merry Lea, my understanding of leadership has evolved, and I’ve realized that it is a constant learning experience. Living in a community shows what leadership looks like, as I’ve learned that leaders need to consider outcomes for the whole of a group. Everyone has a chance to lead and show their strengths.

“The positive outcomes from respecting one another shows that power isn’t always the best choice for good leadership. For example, in our community cooking experiences, we will have individuals with a recipe in mind, but we all work on individual parts of a meal and we trust one another to complete our own tasks. Some people might have more skill in certain areas and will naturally gravitate to portions they feel comfortable leading. As a result, we make something great from the “leader” putting trust in all of us to lead our personal tasks.

“Also, through classes, readings and field trips, we have been learning about the importance of indigenous knowledge from indigenous voices and individuals passionate about sharing indigenous history. From these introductions, I am remembering to be thankful for the origins of all things, to respect what the world has to offer, and acknowledge all the behind the scenes work that individuals do to conserve our world.

“I have been introduced to so many practices and careers that will shape the way in which I approach leadership roles in the future. I just hope to lead with not only economic prosperity in mind, but social, and environmental strength and longevity as well. Being immersed in a program like the SLS creates a more holistic leader: the type of leader we need more of.”

– Hannah Guthrie ’23, Goshen College sustainability studies major


“The Sustainability Leadership Semester at Merry Lea has been a refreshing educational experience for me thus far. As a seminary student from the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana, I am encouraged by the interdisciplinary approach to learning that the SLS program provides. The field trips, course content, and community conversations have all expanded my understanding of sustainability.

“Sustainability can be incorporated into every career path while also connecting careers into a web on interconnected relations, not too uncommon to the ecosystems that we study in SLS. The stories we share, the wonder that we explore, and the willingness to explore the systems that impact our ways of living have all given me the courage to ask questions, engage my imagination, and collaborate creatively with others with the hope that we together can structure more sustainable, regenerative and adaptive ways of living.”

– Sara Gurulé, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary master’s student in Theology and Peace Studies, concentrating on Environmental Sustainability Leadership

“There is something that is both wildly empowering and extremely humbling in learning from the natural world. I’ve really appreciated Merry Lea for the integration of academics with the environment around us. I think the Sustainability Leadership Semester displays a healthier way to approach institutionalized education, and I think Merry Lea has done a really great job at providing a learning environment that embodies the goals of sustainability.

“I’ve had time this semester to slow down and practice getting to know and learn from the environment around me, and I really appreciate this. SLS has helped me think more about how we approach sustainability, and how we interact and form community with other people around climate solutions.

“Being taught practical solutions on both individual and global scales, combined with the focus on gratitude and hope, moves the conversation about climate change from a place of fear to a place of creativity and possibility when I’m looking at the future.”

– Lee Bergey ’23, Goshen College sustainability studies and art double major