Students approve over $9000 in Sustainability Grant projects in Fall of 2019

Written by: Hannah Rion

Center for Sustainability Education and Outreach Assistant

 

What is the Sustainability Grant?

The Sustainability Grant program has been running here at Paul Smith’s College since the Fall of 2013. Funds from the program are derived from a $30 fee that all students pay during the Spring semester. This allows there to be roughly $25,000 available annually for students, faculty, and staff to apply for. These funds are then used to support sustainable initiatives on campus and throughout the college community.

The program gives proposers options of applying for either an under $500 or over $500 grant. The under $500 grants are accepted on a rolling basis and are judged based upon a funding rubric by the Smitty Sustainability Committee. This committee is comprised of students who feel passionate about sustainability and enjoy enacting positive forms of change on campus. The over $500 grants are first reviewed by the committee, in accordance to the rubric. After this, the proposals are voted upon by the entire student body, once during each semester of the school year. If more than half of the students vote to pass the proposal(s), the grant has passed and funds are distributed.

Throughout the program’s seven years of existence, more than $150,000 has been awarded to support projects focused on sustainability. These projects have ranged from installing LED light posts all across campus, to even starting the Beekeeping Club. If you have an idea you are excited about and would like to bring it to fruition, please reach out to the Center for Sustainability at sustainability@paulsmiths.edu. We are currently accepting under $500 submissions up until April 20th. We encourage you to take a look at past grants, which can be found by visiting the Center for Sustainability’s website at www.paulsmiths.edu/sustainability.

Over $500 Grant Awards

Coastal Climate Stories Documentary – $2,876

Sean Jackson, Paul Smith’s College Climate Fellow, had the chance to travel throughout coastal communities along the East Coast of the United States during the Summer of 2019. During his time doing this, Sean collected numerous interviews from individuals willing to share their own experiences with the effects of climate change. After conducting several interviews, he felt as though there was a disconnect between his interview transcripts and the emotional stories he was hearing. This disconnect led him to transforming the project into a documentary. Sean further believed that collecting these stories in a documentary form would create a much more relatable medium for audiences.

Sean will be using the funds he received from the Sustainability Grant to further build off of his fellowship by completing the film in its entirety and submitting the film in hopes of entry into fourteen film festivals throughout the United States. The Center for Sustainability is excited that Sean has dedicated so much time to spreading awareness of the true stories many people in the United States are facing due to the effects of the climate crisis. We look forward to the final release of the film and wish him luck in his entries into the film festivals.

Lower Textbook Costs Initiative – $6,000

The Joan Weill Adirondack Library is initiating an Open Educational Resources (OER) pilot project to help make textbook costs for students more sustainable. The program is designed to incentivize and support faculty to redesign, plan, and teach courses using free or low cost OER materials and eTextbooks in order to lower the overall cost of PSC student’s education. The startling costs of textbooks can prove to be extremely difficult for many students to pay for. This initiative will assist those students by lowering the overall cost of their textbooks for select courses. In some cases, this project may lead to courses offering free textbooks to students.

The awarded funds will be directly allocated to departments and is to be used as seed money for numerous faculty members to redesign their courses around OER. This money will then incentivize faculty to take time and adjust their course to align better with OER textbooks, rather than the current text they use. The library chose to take this project on because they see the value in the college offering more hybrid class models, as well as offering affordable materials for students. It is with great anticipation that we work with both the library and faculty to see this initiative come to fruition.

 

Under $500 Grant Awards

The High Art and Subtle Science of Scrounging Book Purchase – $500

Nancy Dow and Bruce Kilgore, adjunct professors at Paul Smith’s College, teach one of the most beloved courses the college has to offer. Conservation Design: Green Construction (SUS 310) exposes students to topics such as cordwood construction, various renewable energy sources, affordable living, and much more. The course also hosts numerous guest speakers that discuss their experiences in “green” living. One speaker that paid a visit to the class during the Fall 2019 semester was James Juczak, self-proclaimed “scrounger”. Similar to how Mr. Juczak shared his expertise with students, he also wrote a book showcasing self-reliance, food growing and preservation techniques, as well as mortgage-free or alternative construction. His book, titled “The High Art and Subtle Science of Scrounging”, takes a unique perspective on day-to-day living. In order to provide the twenty-six students of the class with this text, Nancy submitted a Sustainability Grant. Once awarded, these funds supported the purchase of the book for students and provided them with literature to practice in their own life. We were extremely happy to support this project that directly benefits students.

 

On-Campus Housing Composting Initiative – $485

Charlie Ritter, along with several other students saw a disconnect between the college’s commitment to sustainable practices and how food waste is managed in the dorms. In order to solve this issue, the students developed the idea of providing residents with the opportunity to compost their food scraps in their living quarters. The project idea was developed for a class project in Politics of the Environment      and quickly gained backing by both Greta Hovland, Director of Dining Services, and Lou Kaminski, Director of Residence Life and Housing. These collaborations have allowed the project to continue to progress onto the next step of implementation. The program will be implemented throughout the Spring 2020 semester with buckets being distributed to dorm buildings within the coming weeks.

 

The food waste in both the dining hall and Cantwell labs is already diverted to Moonstone Farm, a small farm located on the outskirts of Saranac Lake. This established partnership fit perfectly for implementing this widespread composting initiative. The students saw importance in making this program an opt-in model to avoid contamination or misuse of the buckets. Educating students on the college’s current practices, as well as the overall benefits of composting is a critical part of this program. Each bucket will be accompanied with a guide distinguishing what can and cannot be placed in the bucket. Furthermore, the students hope to work with the Smitty Sustainability Committee to host outreach events that will continue to educate students. The Center for Sustainability anticipates this to be a longstanding initiative on campus and looks forward to the continued development of the program and partnerships.

Paul Smith’s College Donates Food Scraps to Local Farm !

This article was written by PSC Student and Sustainability Assistant Hannah Rion

Do you ever think about the amount of food you produce in a day, a week, or a month? How about the amount of food that doesn’t even see a fork or spoon, but just gets tossed in the trash? That has been the sad story for the  food scraps that are produced in our culinary labs here at Paul Smith’s College.  In fact, three years ago there was a campus-wide program known as “Food Scraps for Pigs” where pre-consumer food waste from Cantwell, as well as the dining hall was being used by Atlas Hoofed It Farm, in Vermontville, NY, to feed pigs. There were challenges with pickup and consistent collection of scraps, so the program wasn’t continued, but recently  Emily Sommer’s Farm to Table class has partnered with Sustainability Coordinator Kate Glenn and Jake Vennie-Vollrath of Moonstone Farm, to collect and donate our food scraps to Moonstone Farm for animal feed and compost.

The Farm to Table culinary class, part of the new two-year accelerated culinary program, was visiting Moonstone Farm on a monthly basis, “to get their hands dirty and learn more about the ins and outs of running a small farm in the Adirondacks”, as Jake explained to me. The class also started to brainstorm ideas on how to solve some of the problems the farm was facing. One of these lurking issues happened to be “inputs” and soil health, which Jake was currently sourcing compost from Vermont to solve. Thus caused Emily and the class to start thinking they could have a real potential impact if they were to start diverting the pre-consumer waste from the culinary labs here on campus to Moonstone Farm. Emily then mentioned the project to Kate Glenn, Sustainability Coordinator for the college, and so the wheels began to turn. Kate Glenn then organized a planning meeting with the facilities department, Sodexo, and Emily to develop and establish a written plan and procedures for the project. During the meeting it was discussed who would collect the buckets, how they would be delivered and other remaining logistics. With the purchase of five gallon buckets, funded by the Sustainability Grant, the project was officially up-and-running. Additionally, Kate brought in the support from Sodexo to have the dining hall’s pre-consumer food waste also be diverted to the farm.

“Moonstone Farm specializes in growing heirloom vegetables organically and healthy soils grow tastier vegetables”, says Jake. The food waste serves a variety of purposes on the farm, such as feeding chickens directly, feeding mealworms and black soldier flies which eventually feed the chickens, while the rest is “…composted to create organic matter for our greenhouses, hopyard, fruit trees/bushes, and vegetable fields.” In the short time of a month, the dining hall has collected 218.2 pounds of pre-consumer food waste thanks to the help of Sodexo employees. Meanwhile, the Culinary Department has gathered 251.2 pounds with the help of students and instructors. Evidently, this diversion of food waste is serving an extremely more purposeful objective than it would sitting in a landfill spewing off methane gas Furthermore, this practice allows for a decrease in the heavy food waste facilities has to dispose of, and can be reflected on the college’s Greenhouse Gas Report, which tracks the production of methane.

Pre-consumer food waste is often overlooked when discussing composting practices, causing it to become a growing problem. This type of composting specifically focuses on the scraps that are a byproduct of food preparation. Food loss and waste accounts for about 4.4 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) per year. To put this in perspective, if food loss and waste were its own country, it would be the world’s third-largest GHG emitter – surpassed only by China and the United States” (“Food Waste Facts”). A large portion of this food waste could be gold for many farmers in helping them restore nutrients to their soil. Jake shares that, “Not only is reducing food waste (or redirecting it to better uses) economically smart, it might be the easiest thing that we can do to address global warming.” The implementation of more programs like these across the United States is essential to help combat the negative effects of food waste. This project serves as a perfect example of discovering an issue and developing a working solution.

Both Emily and Jake believe the program is working extremely well, however, they share high hopes for the future. Jake shared with me that this partnership has inspired him to “think bigger” and someday he hopes “…to soon obtain all of PSC’s food waste for composting and assist the college in making it completely food waste free.” The farm is also currently working on plans for a larger drum composter that could handle more volume and produce compost more efficiently than the existing compost piles. As for Emily and her Farm to Table class, she says, “The main reason for our Farm to Table class was so that the students can appreciate more where their food is coming from, how much work goes into getting it in their fridges and on their tables. So adding the composting buckets was just another step into appreciating our food that much more.”

The Smitty Sustainability Committee fully supports the efforts of all the people involved in this project, especially the students who are filling the buckets with proper pre-consumer food scraps. The committee is currently working with the dining hall to design an effective program to tackle post-consumer food waste on campus. We will be implementing a separate bin labeled compost and providing signage that educates students on what they can scrape into the bin later in the spring semester. Combating food waste is an extremely critical issue that needs action sooner, rather than later. By keeping the conversation and programs like this going, everyone involved hopes to have a significant positive impact.

Would you like to make a difference on campus? You can learn more about the possibility of funding from the Sustainability Grant by reaching out to Hannah Rion, Sustainability Grant and Office Assistant, at sustainability@paulsmiths.edu or by visiting https://www.paulsmiths.edu/sustainability/campus-sustainability-fund/

Notes from the Recycling Team

Hey Everyone,

Jordan, Tom, and Julie here. When sorting though this weeks recycling we noted that there were a lot of coffee cups and Doritos bags in the recycling bags – these items are not recyclable. Common issues also include containers not being emptied and rinsed of food and/or drinks. PLEASE RINSE CONTAINERS OUT BEFORE YOU RECYCLE THEM. We also did not appreciate the dead animal left by the dumpster. If you are a hunter, please properly dispose of any animals carcasses.

Thank you and happy recycling!

New Farm-to-Table Assistant!

This semester, we have hired a new Farm to Table Assistant for our staff. We welcome Andrew Cassata, who will be supporting us with our local food initiatives on campus and in our community.

Andrew is from Hilton, NY, and is currently a freshman in the Sustainable Communities and Working Landscapes B.S. program. In 2012, Andrew started his own organic produce business, called Twin Hill Farms LLC. After graduating from Paul Smith’s with his degree, Andrew plans to continue working with his farm. When he’s not busy with school, the farm, or working in our office, Andrew enjoys hiking and skiing on the VIC trails.

Welcome Andrew- We’re very excited to have you on the team!

Adirondack Youth Climate Summit 2016

The Wild Center in Tupper Lake hosts an annual Adirondack Youth Climate Summit. This year the summit was hosted on November 3 and 4. Each year, students from around the Northeast come together to learn about climate change, and what they can do in their own lives and school to combat the effects. The theme of the 2016 Adirondack Youth Climate Summit was “Branching out.” This years summit team consisted of five student attendees: Jack Gallagher, Erika Ochs, Josh Staquet, Dan Stevener and myself, Valerie Hoffman. Also our Sustainability Coordinator Kate Glenn, this was her sixth Youth Climate Summit. The summit was broken into plenary sessions, when everyone attends, and workshops, where students chose an area they are interested in to learn more about.

aycs2016_3I am always inspired to help the environment and human race when I leave the summit. This being my third year attending was very exciting. I find it really exciting to see what schools (high school and colleges) did in the past year and to see their growth. There were so many cool presenters like The Alliance for Climate Education (ACE), which is an organization that has perfected presenting information in a fun and informative way. Also Rob Carr, who will be teaching Environmental Communication with Curt Stager this spring semester, gave a presentation on giving a presentation. For a fantastic presentation you need to know your audience, why it matters to them, have a main message, and use minimal words on the slides. My eyes were opened to how many opportunities are out there if you really put your mind to it. Alizé Carrère is a cultural ecologist who was able to become a National Geographic Explorer. She received a grant from National Geographic and went to Madagascar to study erosion gullies. To get a grant from National Geographic all you have to do is be between the ages of 18 and 26 and have an idea. Alizé Carrère is hosting a series on how the world is adapting to climate change. One of my favorite presenters are farmers, Mark and Kristin Kimball from Essex Farm always plan an exciting session. This year we had to find Captain Carbon, tie him up and bury him. This was to show carbon sequestration.  Every year is a new and exciting skit. After all of these sessions you get to gather as a school team and draft a climate action plan. This is later discussed with every participating school at the end of the second day. Right before lunch on the second day a poster session is held for each school to show what they do to reduce their carbon footprint or promote sustainability. Each school decorated a cardboard tree with leafs covered in candy wrappers. On the leaf they wrote how their school was going to branch out about climate change. The Adirondack Youth Climate Summit will always be one of the best memories I have from Paul Smith’s College. I am proud that Paul Smith’s College has opportunities like this to share with their students.

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Jack Gallagher,

This was my third year attending the youth climate summit however it was my first time not being involved in the planning process before going. I was very inspired as always and have a few projects i’d like to work with the sustainability office to carry out. It was great to see schools there with their first environmental clubs and to see the program is growing. Being team captain I got to sit in a lunch meeting where I learned that the program was year round and offers funding to the high schools that need it for their future projects like the sustainability office here on campus. The speakers were very informative and different than years before. I am excited to see what will happen in future summits as the program continues to expand around the world.

aycs2016_2Erika Ochs,

The Adirondack Youth Climate Summit was a great educational experience; I learned a lot and had fun. It was really impressive to see high school students full of climate change knowledge. Watching students work with each other and enjoy learning was so refreshing. These students care about the environment and want to make change, it was awesome! We got the privilege to meet Alizé Carrère a National Geographic Explorer, she spoke about her journey around the world making small changes in their communities and studying people’s culture. We also were given the opportunity to attend workshops with professors from Paul Smith’s. I personally attended Curt Stager’s seminar, we got to work together to make charts based off studies Curt has done for years. We looked at everything from salamanders, to Lake Champlain freezing over completely. Students were shocked for some of the results. The power of students coming together to make a difference is empowering itself to watch. We are the future; we can make change if we come together. I’m proud to be a Smitty, and to have been a part of The Adirondack Youth Climate Summit.

Josh Staquet,

What I have to say about the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit was that it was an awesome experience. It was very informative and inspirational on what to do to reduce the issues of our climate. It was also for entertaining with the fun activities offered there as well. It is definitely worth going to for those who are into supporting the environment and reducing climate issues.

Dan Stevener,

The Adirondack Youth Climate Summit was a good opportunity for students to both learn and address the problems of climate change.  It is incredibly important for the younger generation to be ever increasingly aware about the dangers caused by climate change because the younger generation are the ones who will ultimately feel the most effect from it in their lifetime.  The biggest key takeaway from the Climate Summit was there are lots of people around the world who haven’t given up hope and are fighting on reversing this issue even though it will be an incredible uphill battle, especially given the current political climate.  I was the age of these kids just shy of a decade ago, and I don’t remember anybody in my high school taking a stand like these kids did.  This alone gives me hope for the future.

Paul Smith’s College was well represented  the speakers and workshop presenters. Paul Smiths alumni Larry Montague is an eco-hip-hop artist performed and ran a workshop on how hip hop can save the planet. Curt Stager also ran a workshop titled “Bringing Climate Change Down to Where You Live.” Bethany  Garretson presented during a workshop called “How to Make Social Change a Reality.” Kate Glenn and I ran a workshop last year on “Community Mapping and Climate Action planning”, the worksheet and pre-summit maters every summit group used for this years summit came from that workshop.

Special THANKS to the WILD CENTER for putting on and Inviting us to such an amazing event.

Barn-to-Table: Paul Smith’s College’s first on-campus PIGS!

From early June to November, the Center for Campus Sustainability and the students of the St. Regis Cafe have been raising pigs behind the horse barn. Black and Tan were two four legged additions to the area behind the horse barn. They spent an idyllic summer living behind the barn, eating the delectable food scraps from the St. Regis Restaurant and the Lakeside dining hall. Never as tame as the horses, one time they stampeded though the electric fence and were found rooting around Curt Stagers front yard.

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Black and Tan were slaughtered last week at the Adirondack Meat Company in Ticonderoga NY. Chef Kevin McCarthy (seen above with culinary students) will be processing the 400 lbs of pork this Thursday and Friday with his students. Black and Tan may have touched many hearts of many students and been the celebrities of many Instagram posts and Snapchat stories.  However their days at Paul Smith’s College were numbered, now they will be making an appearance in the St. Regis Cafe! Stop by the cafe this semester or next for some delicious hyper local pork!

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