Kali Makes It Her Mission To Protect the Planet


When we asked, “Who do you know that makes it their mission to protect the planet?” for our 2020 spring kindness contest, we were overwhelmed by the response of thoughtful, and truly impactful entries. With a goal of choosing one winner, we decided to toss (eh- hem …recycle) that idea and name three winners since choosing one seemed impossible. 

Though it is tough to put a “place” on someone who cares for the planet, one submission stuck out the most to us, Kali Smolen of White River Junction, VT. Her mother nominated her, and pride radiated through her words of admiration. “My daughter, Kali, is a busy bee. When I think of Kali, the words ‘planet protector’ immediately comes to mind," states Colleen Smolen (Mom).

“In college, she was a student worker at the Sustainable Agriculture Project on campus where she tended to the vegetable plots, engaged in student education about how food is produced, and helped manage the campus beehives. At one point during her freshman year, she came home and set up recycling bins in our garage and a worm compost bin in the basement. 'It won’t smell, don’t worry,' she kept saying. At first, I was skeptical about her waste diverting practices, but soon enough they became habit for our family,” Mom continues.

Now, Kali is an MD/PhD student at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. She is working in a lab that studies protein interactions in cancer cells. Outside of lab, she continues to embrace sustainability in various ways including:

  • President of the Dartmouth Beekeeping Association where she manages four hives at the Dartmouth Organic Farm.
  • Teaches various student groups throughout the summer about bees and the importance of pollinators to our food system.
  • Volunteers with Willing Hands and the Upper Valley Food Co-Op helping to bring vegetables to the tables of those in need and supporting enterprises that bring the food of local farmers to the market.
  • Cares for the worms in her vermicomposting bin that she proudly constructed in her home.
  • Takes waste-free trips to the grocery store with multiple bulk containers and reusable produce bags.
  • Part of a group called Sustainability in Medicine that strives to encourage healthcare facilities to become more environmentally friendly.

With final words that truly touched us, Mom said, “She recently said to me, ‘Small changes add up’. Kali pushes me and everyone around her to think differently and ‘bee’ better stewards of this beautiful planet."

To see more about Kali’s work with the Dartmouth Beekeeping Association, see the organization’s Facebook page .

Our next two winners are Traci Bisson of Barrington, NH- nominated by her husband Ray. Traci owns It Takes a Village Pet Care and dedicates much of her time to learning and educating others about sustainable gardening and the benefits of it. She has helped Barrington Elementary School expand their food gardens and include pollinator gardens and has been recognized on several occasions for her contributions to sustainability.

Nominated by her co-worker Jacqui, Carrie Mayo is the owner of Mayo Designs, a web design and marketing services agency and spends her free time spear heading her non-profit Because There is No Planet B. They organize several beach clean-ups along with education on sustainability. Carrie also is involved with several organizations including Green America, the California Solar & Storage Association, the Green Business Bureau, New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility, the Portsmouth, NH Mayor’s Blue Ribbon on Sustainable Practices Committee, York Ready for 100%, 350 Maine, and more.

Carrie also hosted a Sustainable Environment Summit where she presented a powerful, interactive presentation called “Awakening the Dreamer.” This was an exploration of the challenges facing humanity at this moment in time, as well as the opportunities we have as a human family to create a new future. The event was a day of inspiration, education and empowerment for the community, highlighting the importance of sustainability.

Thank you to all these wonderful winners! Stay tuned for more kindness contests, and be sure to check back for other stories that inspire!