Alumna profile – Tara Hershberger ’06

Tara HershbergerActing teacher, theater usher, non-profit fundraiser, environmental steward, Portland, Ore.

Education after Hesston: B.A. in English and theatre from Goshen (Ind.) College

Where has life taken you since leaving Hesston?

After I finished my degree at Goshen College, I participated in Mennonite Voluntary Service in San Antonio, Texas, where I worked at the Magik Children’s Theatre as an actor and teacher for three years. Now I live in Portland, Ore., where I teach acting classes at the Northwest Children’s Theatre and School, raise funds for grassroots campaigns on behalf of various non-profit organizations and usher at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts. I am also passionate about raising awareness of the threat of biodiversity loss and environmental degradation. I try to let my life show that by living sustainably.

You’re a theatre educator, why do you choose to live a more sustainable life?

I think sustainability is an obvious and logical way to live. The very term “sustainable” means that it is able to survive and adapt. Our natural and social systems are broken, and the only way we can move forward is by living simply. Protecting our planet is an issue of social justice, and to achieve that means transitioning to local, sustainable lifestyles and communities.

How did Hesston College help determine the path your life and career would take?

At Hesston I was able to participate in a lot of theatre, and I took classes that helped shape my worldview and ethic. Hesston was also a place that instilled a sense of social responsibility to care for all creation. My early seeds of desire to fight environmental degradation and cycles of violence and poverty were sown there.

What are your biggest career accomplishments?

At Magik Theatre I was director of the local touring company. I wrote, directed and performed in the one-act play Texas Tall Tales, which ran for five months.

Which Hesston College instructors had an influence on you?

My mother, Michele (Schrock) ’81 Hershberger, has had the biggest impact on my life, of course. But relatives notwithstanding, Tony Brown ’69 had a big influence on my turn to vegetarianism, and my conservation ethic is, in part, inspired by Lorna Harder.

What ideas do you have for helping Hesston College become more sustainable?

Install solar panels and windmills, offer more vegetarian food options and encourage water conservation.

What can any individual do to be more sustainable in their day-to-day living?

Reduce waste, simplify your life, eat less meat, spend less time in the shower, unplug your life, enjoy nature, enrich your community and support local business!