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Sustainable Skidmore, Spring 2011

Posted: 04/29/2011

National surveys report that college students regularly express a strong interest in sustainability issues, a trend that is mirrored on the Skidmore campus and reflected in a number of “green” initiatives during the spring semester.

New this year was a food waste audit sponsored by the Environmental Action Club (EAC) and Sustainable Skidmore in Murray Aikins Dining Hall.  The goal was to tally the amount of food being left behind in the dining hall as a start to developing a system that could turn the waste into nutrient-rich compost.  Three student interns–Margot Reisner ’14, Sarah Arndt ’14, and Talia Arnow ’13–have been working with campus Sustainability Coordinator Riley Neugebauer to plan a composting program. Measuring the food waste is a first step in determining the costs of such a program.

Earth Week activities included a day-long festival to celebrate the earth, with music, crafts,and food taking center stage. Special guest speakers also were part of Earth Week, as was a project that focused on preparing the Skidmore Student Garden for its third growing season. On April 24 the EAC hosted a Garden Work Party that included expanding and reconfiguring the garden beds, and preparing them for the new season. Neugebauer explained that about 20 students attended the January meeting of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, where they obtained a lot of great information about maximizing sustainability in the student garden, with particular emphasis on permaculture design principles. Planting will get under way soon. The student garden is located directly across the street from the main entrance to campus.

In mid-April, 82 students headed to Washington, D.C. for Powershift 2011, which drew approximately 10,000 young people focused on climate change. Skidmore students who attended were energized by the event.  Anna Graves ’14 said, “What resonated was the power of so many people.  We were all being hit with the same message and we were all in the same place at the same time. That’s insanely energizing to understand what can happen when people come together.” And Gabriella Stern ’13 reported, “Powershift was an amazing opportunity to join together with thousands of young environmental activists to earn and advocate for clean energy.” Momentum from Powershift came back to campus with the students, she added. “We have a lot of new projects in the works, like eliminating plastic water bottles from campus and a more comprehensive climate change plan. We also have developed new goals for existing projects like the Skidmore Student Garden and Sustainable Skidmore.” One of the first post-Powershift projects undertaken was a visit by the Briefcase Brigade to the office of Rep. Charles Gibson. Click here to see more.