Price off the ice

The Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation nominates 15 NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey student-athletes that make “significant contributions not only to his or her team but also to the community-at-large through leadership in volunteerism.” One of four repeat nominees for this year’s award, Rensselaer’s Hannah Price ’23 is a resolute leader on and off the ice.

Price was introduced to volunteering at a young age through her mother: “When I hear about big issues,” explained Price, “I like to do tangible things, even if it’s small, to help.” She recounted that in middle school, she collected her neighbors’ cans for months before donating them for money for the Humane Society. In high school, a domestic violence shooting rocked her community, making her feel powerless. Her response was to sell chocolate pretzels to contribute money to a local women’s shelter, raising over a thousand dollars. That same spring, Price spoke in front of her school regarding gun control after her friend organized a walkout following the Parkland shooting. Her activism snowballed, helping organize a march of 30,000 protesters in Pittsburgh.

Part of Price’s volunteer work here in Troy focuses on individuals in the community. She had a great time teaching girls hockey skills for National Girls & Women in Sports Day. Price stressed the importance of being a role model for young girls in sports, especially since there weren’t many when she was growing up. The women’s hockey team has held some “Skate with the Engineers” sessions after a couple of their games this season—Price relayed memories of the girls stealing their gloves, causing the team to chase them around the rink. Through those interactions, she hoped to show the girls the dream of collegiate hockey.

Price also serves as the president for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. According to her, SAAC fulfills two roles: to give student-athletes a voice and to be active and engaged with the Troy community. The committee holds monthly meetings with administrators about student-athletes’ experiences, concerns, and ideas. SAAC also partners with the Red Cross to host blood drives throughout the year, gives blankets and hygiene kits to the unhoused population in Troy on Fresh Check Day, and hosts a Special Olympics of New York basketball tournament.

She also works with Troy Street Soldiers when not in season, and brought her entire team to volunteer last year. Troy Street Soldiers set up tables of sorted food to enable those experiencing food insecurity to choose the food they want, an agency not often given to them. Price enjoys connecting with those going through the line. She endearingly reminisced about a woman that always gave her recipes and that she reported back every week. “Those one-on-one connections have really shaped me to be the person I am today.”

The other part of Price’s volunteer work is her sustainability advocacy. The course “Designing Climate Justice” introduced her to environmental justice, motivating Price to change her major from biology to sustainability studies to study the connection between social justice and environmentalism.

Price has since targeted the pressing issue of food waste, starting back home in Pittsburgh. She partnered with the Natural Resource Defense Council’s Food Matters program to secure the 2021 USDA Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production grant for the city. That money has gone toward the expansion of the Adopt-A-Lot program, which converts vacant city-owned lots into community food, flower, and rain gardens. She gives much of the credit to the communities maintaining these gardens.

Price takes the most pride in her organization of Food Matters Month. In December of 2021, the mayor of Pittsburgh read a proclamation at city hall to make a public commitment to reduce food waste. Price was a key figure in assembling a panel of food bank workers, industry leaders, a chef, and many other food organization leaders to discuss food insecurity and waste in the city.

Here in Troy, Price is the current president of the RPI Food Recovery Network. The FRN recovers food waste from the dining facilities at the end of each day and delivers pans of food to the Joseph’s House & Shelter. The FRN’s most successful initiative is Flex for Food, in which students use their extra Flex at the end of the year to purchase non-perishables from Father’s Marketplace for donation. If you’re interested in the Food Recovery Network, read The Poly’s article about them that Price co-wrote and follow them on Instagram (@rpi.frn).

For the 2022 McKinney Writing Contest, Price wrote an essay titled “Humans, Soil, and Ecology” that received third place in the Undergraduate Essay/Creative Nonfiction category. The thesis of her piece was on the interdependence of humans and soil and the circular relationship between them. She stated in the interview that “we need to, as humans, care for our soil more because it gives so much back to us and we need to give back to it.” Price also currently assists in research for the Our Soil Project, giving soil field kits to detect contaminants like lead and arsenic primarily. She has also done research for different environmental cases as a student assistant for the New York State Office of the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau.

The senior Economy and Sustainability Studies dual major aims to play professional hockey in Europe for a year after graduation, before studying environmental law. She is currently interested in exploring food justice, but is still narrowing down her passion in the broad field of environmentalism.

Price represents the best of the RPI community. By viewing her volunteering as working as a team toward a larger goal, her continuous action in the community has brought about significant change. I look forward to following the driven leader as she continues her activism after graduation.