Jenna Seigworth selected as John Roe Sustainability Impact Awardee

The Behrend senior is celebrated as a champion for sustainable change
A person holds a sign that says Student Farm in front of a brick wall

Jenna Seigworth at the 2023 Northeast Student Farmer Conference.

Credit: Provided

ERIE, Pa. — Jenna Seigworth, a senior at Penn State Behrend, has been distinguished with the 2024 John Roe Sustainability Impact Award for her outstanding leadership in sustainability efforts. Seigworth's deep-seated commitment to a greener, more equitable world has positively impacted both the Penn State Behrend community and the surrounding Erie area.

Nominator Katie Chriest, who works in outreach and communications for commonwealth campuses and oversees the Sustainable Food Systems Program at Penn State Behrend, praised Seigworth's contributions: "Jenna's leadership has been especially beneficial to our 'Growing Roots of Understanding' project, which raises awareness about farmer stress and mental health concerns," Chriest said. "She instinctively prioritizes inclusion, listening, and meeting people where they are."

Seigworth's research into perceived barriers facing marginalized populations at farmers’ markets, as part of her Schreyer’s thesis, reflects a critical eye on sustainability through the lens of social justice.

"Jenna has intuitively noticed how much of the narrative surrounding how to make 'sustainable' choices assumes a certain level of privilege," Chriest added. 

A natural leader, Seigworth spearheaded initiatives like donating produce grown on campus to Behrend’s Lion’s Pantry and through pay-what-you-can farm stands in underserved parts of Erie. Her efforts ensure that the campus garden not only serves as a green space but also as a vital resource.

"Produce grown on Behrend’s campus increases access to fresh, local food for campus and community members who experience food insecurity,” said Chriest.

Among her multiple roles, Seigworth serves as the president of the Student Garden Club and a Behrend Sustainability Ambassador. Her leadership has also been instrumental in the design and planning of the campus’ new Sustainability Store, highlighting the innovative strides she has taken to incorporate sustainability into campus life.

In addition to these roles, Seigworth's ability to galvanize action has been recognized with an Erickson Discovery Grant, a Student Engagement Network grant and a Rock Ethics Institute Stand Up Award.

Reflecting on the award, Seigworth shared her vision for the future, "I believe that sustainability should be accessible to all and integrated into our daily lives. It's about making meaningful connections between our environment, our communities, and the global challenges we face."

According to Douglas Goodstein, associate director for student engagement at Penn State Sustainability, Seigworth's achievements not only reflect her dedication but also embody Penn State's pursuit of nurturing leaders who can drive meaningful change in sustainability and beyond.

For inquiries or further information about Penn State's sustainability efforts, visit or contact Douglas Goodstein, associate director for student engagement, Penn State Sustainability, at [email protected].