Dan Herrera was hired as RCP’s project associate in August 2017 to assist with program administration. Learn more about Dan, the newest member of the RCP team.

What made you decide to come to Minnesota to work for RCP?

I came to Minnesota to work with RCP because it offered the unique opportunity to work within the fields of urban resilience and sustainability in both an academic and community setting. I’m a recent graduate of Augustana College (Rock Island, IL), where I double-majored in biology and environmental studies. During my time there, I researched urban ecology and public health with the Sustainable Working Landscapes Initiative—a sister program of the Resilient Communities Project. So my familiarity and experience with the basic RCP program model made me a good fit for the position as well.  

What is your role with RCP, and how does your work impact the University community?

As program associate I assist in scoping the projects the students will undertake, and work with the students to ensure the project is progressing smoothly. My role with RCP ensures that the students have all the information they need to perform their work, and that their professors have easy access to well-vetted projects with committed community partners.

What do you enjoy most about your role with RCP?

I enjoy seeing the students invest themselves and take pride in their projects. When the students present at the end of the semester, it’s evident how hard they have worked on their projects, and how satisfied they are with the results. Similarly, I enjoy seeing city staff share the students’ excitement. When both parties are visibly happy with the research is when I enjoy my job most.

What would people never guess you do in your job?

One unexpected aspect of my job is that I am currently conducting a literature review of research on the benefits of experiential learning, one of the foundational concepts behind RCP. RCP and its sister-programs were built on the assumption that classes with experiential learning components provide more benefits to students than traditional lecture-style classes. Looking deeper into this style of learning allows RCP to think critically about how we operate, and fine-tune our program to ensure it provides both the students and our partner communities the maximum benefit possible.

People would be surprised if they knew…

That the majority of my pre-RCP work experience involves tracking and handling wild animals in their natural environment—most recently, bats. My educational background is in biology and environmental studies with a focus on urban ecology. RCP provides a good fusing of both my environmental and urban geography backgrounds.

What do you like best about working at UMN?

The best part of working at the UMN is having access to a vast array of opportunities that would be unavailable through other employers. Research talks, concerts, art exhibits, networking opportunities, and recreation facilities all make the UMN stand out as an exceptional place to work.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I enjoy traveling the country to see family and friends whenever I have a chance. Most of my travels are heavily nature-focused, and include hiking, camping, canoeing, and wildlife photography. When not traveling you can usually find me either training for an upcoming road race, or reading a good book.

What was your best vacation?

My favorite vacation was a week-long stay in Savannah, Georgia with my best friends. The week was filled with tours of downtown, lazy days on the beach, hiking through wildlife sanctuaries, and taking to time to catch up with friends.

RCP Employee Spotlight: Dan Herrera