Meet Shad: Future Environmentalist

Shad Hassan

We educate - the Kansas Sierra Club is committed to promoting environmental education. Our teacher grant program, on hiatus during the COVID19 pandemic, helps finance classroom projects related to climate change. A special grant to a local student enabled her to study the conservation of sea turtles in Costa Rica, where some species are threatened by the climate crisis.

Most recently, we introduced high school senior Shad Hassan to one of our environmental lawyers. Lawyering is not always about courtroom drama, as Shad learned when he shadowed attorney Tim Laughlin. Here's what Shad told us about his experience.

I contacted environmental attorney Tim Laughlin through Elaine Giessel who volunteered with my mother on the community advisory panel for Bayer Crop Science. Tim offered me an opportunity to shadow him on a normal day at work. We started with meeting the attorneys and office staff. I was fascinated by the artwork throughout the office.

To get the day started Tim explained his current CAFO case filed by the Kansas Sierra Club against the Kansas Department of Health and Environment regarding permits for a confined swine feeding operation in north Kansas. The intent of the Sierra Club is to prevent pollution of adjacent waterways.

Afterward, Tim invited me to attend his continuing legal education class (CLE). The attorneys who attended watched and discussed the movie “Dark Waters,” which mirrored the Sierra Club’s case over the pressing issue of water pollution.

Reflecting on the opportunity that Tim gave me, I learned how our legal system works and what a typical day in a law office looks like. All the reading and writing had me second-guessing the practice of law as a potential career.

However, as I watched Tim, I was inspired by not only his passion for the environment but also by his ability to use his legal skills for protecting it. It is reassuring that there are lawyers working for organizations like the Sierra Club who are using litigation to protect our planet.

My generation will soon have the responsibility to solve the environmental problems we will inherit. I found my own passion for studying and for protecting the environment from my mother, who works as an environmental engineer. Among my other role models was my high school biology teacher who taught me about our beautiful planet.

I hope to pursue a career in either law or biology, although I haven’t decided which one yet. My goal is to use my education and skills to help protect our environment just as Tim and the Sierra Club are doing.