Today we’d like to introduce you to Infynity Hill.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My journey to where I am today has been and will continue to be lifelong. I worked endlessly to achieve my place in life now, but I also know it is not where I want to stop. In short, I have always been an advocate for the health of the environment and all the species inhabiting this planet with us humans. My admiration first sparked when I was a little girl spending hours in the school library examining kid-encyclopedias on animal biodiversity or reading up on natural disasters. I remember building ecosystem dioramas and teaching classmates about the carbon cycle in the seventh grade. As I aged, my interest in everything science related blossomed and veered towards the direction of health sciences instead of environmental. At the time, I believed following a career in healthcare was both a sustainable and interesting for me to pursue. In the next four years, I spent my undergraduate studying basic science concepts and how these concepts influence the health of biological systems. For my job, I taught biology laboratory courses to fellow undergraduate students. These courses ranged from basic biology to biodiversity (marine biodiversity/evolution was one of my favorite classes to teach)! My academics answered a few questions I had going into college but opened an insatiable curiosity to understand the world and our relationship with every aspect of the environment. The little tree hugger inside of me was woken up and chatting, reminding myself of my first love, planet Earth.
In my free time, I explored the nooks of Arizona and as I turned over the crannies in AZ’s backyard, I observed one aspect each location had in common. Litter. An abundance of trash everywhere I went. Simultaneously to my awareness, a new volunteer clean-up group was arising called The Wild Keepers. The WK Crew was created by the clothing company Let’s Keep Nature Wild Co. and inspired the community to keep our wild places free from litter. Thus, I committed myself to spend a few hours each month to pick up any trash I found whilst I was adventuring. What started out as a small hobby grew into a significant contribution to my character. Being a wild keeper taught me more about my own habits and behaviors that I could have ever imagined. Over the next year, I went from conveniently collecting litter as I hiked once a month to dedicating every other Saturday morning cleaning up the shores of the Salt River with friends. As I cleaned, I noticed plastic trash consisted of most of the litter I picked up. My desire to be “less trashy” bled from my adventuring life to my everyday habits. I began to become conscious of the impacts my consumptions had on myself and the world around me. As I challenged myself to be more environmentally-aware, the little girl from 14 years ago was screaming to protect our seas, trees, and bees. Finally, after months of deliberating, I made the leap to leave the healthcare field and pursue a career in environmental health! Now, here I am years later, conducting research on plastic pollution and pursuing my masters in ecosystem sciences and science policy.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Is a true journey ever smooth? Lol, as much as I wish I could say, “yes, I have had it all figured out”, I cannot. Although, I would not trade the hardships for an easier ride because I learned the most about myself when I was at my lowest. Even though I probably would not have agreed when I was going through the lows ha! Past the challenges of attaining a science degree and refusing the typical college life to achieve my bachelors, I would say this past year I have seen the most struggles thus far. I spent most of my college years following a secondary passion instead of a primary one and that wasn’t bothersome until I decided to attend graduate school. All the sudden I was spending all my time studying a subject I wasn’t particularly fascinated with but decent in while wishing I could protect the environment. Ultimately, I left the full ride to my previous masters and an opportunity to live in Costa Rica for free. I didn’t have an inkling of how I was going to afford to pursue the dreams I had buried for the past decade or the student loans creeping around the corner. Leaving my previous program was the HARDEST choice I have EVER made. But in my heart, I knew I wasn’t where I was meant to be. In the next 6 months, I battled immense self-doubt and shame for leaving such an opportunity. Many of my nights were restless and filled with tears. Despite this, I worked diligently every day to create a new pathway for myself. I reached out to friends, family, and mentors asking for advice. I read, watched and listened to as much information I could get my 10 little fingers on. I. Didn’t. Give. Up. Just when I thought I couldn’t go any longer, I was offered a fellowship to a new masters program. A program where I could research plastic pollution and hopefully protect the environment. Fourteen-year-old me couldn’t have been more proud of twenty-four year old me.
Advice I would give to any women out there, young or experienced. Stay true to yourself and work to make yourself proud! Dedicate time to discover who you are without several other voices telling you, even if those outside voices have the best intentions for you. There will be times you are going to look up and think, “how in the world do I get up and make a life for myself.” In those times, don’t give up. Instead, quiet your thoughts and listen closely to your heart. You know what is right for yourself no matter how scary the change or challenge may be. Never forget the most cliché but true phrase our mothers and Pinterest posts taught us, “you can do anything you put your mind to.” Also, I am pretty convinced iced coffee has given me the extra umf I need to conquer life, lol.
Please tell us more about what you do, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I have a few jobs as a graduate student! First and foremost is my dedication to my research projects! The main research I work with involves plastic pollution. I am interested in investigating the life cycle of plastic products, how the plastic materials leak into our environment and the consequent impact on the health of the surrounding environment. Plastic pollution is a number one form of anthropogenic pollution aka waste produced by human activity and has a huge potential to negatively impact our human health, not just nature. A huge portion of my research is attributed to understanding human relationship with the environment and the behaviors associated. I am currently researching recycling habits in Arizona cities. A few other graduate students and I have started a plastic-free initiative at our school where we hope to significantly reduce single-use plastics at sponsored events. Another part of my research is working in my lab to determine the concentration of contaminants found in oceanic soil samples, ocean fish and even local fish! I love this part of my job because I feel like it is the most impactful and direct link to my future goals. I am able to spend time in the lab working like a “mad scientist” extracting specific toxins like pesticides from soils around coral reefs! On the same hand, I can also inform local fisheries on the contaminants found in the fish citizens are catching and potentially eating from lakes.
As a graduate student, I have been fortunate enough to teach Anatomy and Physiology! I instruct an undergraduate class on human body systems as well as scientific investigation. I adore this part of my job because teaching has always been a love of mine. It’s fun to watch timid students push past their comfort zones and find joy in a difficult subject. Students are also a hoot and I enjoy helping them understand topics that may seem intimidating at first.
What I am most known for is also what sets me apart, I guess! As I briefly talked about before, I like to clean up litter from local place whether that’s in the wild or favorite tourists’ spots. I, personally, prefer to clean the Salt River because I love wild horses and otters. I once saw a horse chewing on a plastic bag for dinner and I vowed I would never let another plastic bag remain on the ground, again.
It would be great to hear about any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve used and would recommend to others.
Oh, I love podcasts! I mostly use these platforms as a way to decompress. For example, almost every Friday morning I listen to a “Stuff You Should Know” episode. Josh and Chuck not only pick interesting topics but they are hilarious! “Ologies” is another educational podcast I enjoy.
“Before Breakfast” with Lauren Vanderkam is sprinkled with productivity tips and helps me feel motivated.
I am the WORST about reading books because I read so many articles. I am trying to discover books that can sustain my attention after a few weeks. Its a work in progress!
Honestly, my passion planner keeps me sane! Every week, I sit down and fill out my planner. This helps me keep organized and managed. Without my planner, I would feel like a more of a chaotic mess than I already do lol. I also decorate my planner with stickers and fun pen colors to keep my week light-hearted. My planner has a habit tracker and a monthly reflection section. I feel like these are helpful IF I am honest with myself on my reflection.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BwzqaCeBtT5/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/infynity.hill
- Other: IG handle: @fyni_
Mary Berkstresser Photography