Watering can in garden for living sustainable lifestyle.

Developing a Sustainability Mindset

Updated April 4, 2020 . AmFam Team

What does it means to truly live a sustainable life? American Family’s Social Media Administrator Josh Feyen shares how his childhood upbringing was the catalyst to a lifelong passion for living sustainably.

While American Family Insurance does our part to minimize operational impact through our sustainability efforts, it’s employees like Social Media Administrator Josh Feyen who we admire and applaud for committing to living a sustainable life. Josh doesn’t just talk the talk — his dedication to sustainability is deep-rooted, starting in his childhood and blossoming throughout adulthood in his personal and professional life. Through his story, Josh hopes to educate and encourage others that, no matter how big or small, your effort matters.

In 1976, Josh’s parents moved his family of five from a comfortable, middle-class life in suburban Milwaukee to a farm in southwest Wisconsin.

“Our economic outlook took an immediate nose dive, but our opportunities to learn soared,” says Josh. By 1979, his dad's hog operation was well underway, his mom had established a full-scale produce garden and he and brothers could heave hay bales that weighed more than each of them. 

Josh’s dad also found some spare time and energy to apply his mechanical skills to inventing new ways to heat their mama pigs and piglets in the dead of winter. Recalling the pain of the 1973 oil crisis and the ongoing energy crisis in 1979, the federal government was also exploring alternative heating systems.

When asked what he’d like people to take away from his story, Josh says, “I’d like you to know your efforts matter, as well. What you do makes a difference in your life and in the lives of those you love. But even bigger is that what you're doing with your time also matters to those you don’t know, from an arctic polar bear to the unnamed neighbor down the street. Collectively, all our actions matter. We all matter.”

Finally, Josh believes that expressing deep and sincere appreciation matters.

“First, I appreciate myself for what I've done and what I'm yet to do. Next, I appreciate those who have made my rich and abundant life possible. I am grateful for my parents’ inspired move to a farm, the wonderfully quirky people I grew up with, the transformational classes I took, American Family's generous education reimbursement program and the flexibility to use some of my work time to contribute to the company's sustainability efforts.”

These have made it possible for countless smaller things to happen. Things that Josh is sure are making a collectively larger difference.

Want to get in on the sustainability conversation and learn more about what American Family is doing to be a better corporate citizen? Visit our corporate responsibility page.

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