Posts Tagged ‘Environmental Studies’

Allegheny’s Game-changing Greenhouse Takes Root

The building is in some ways like any other of its kind, a cozy box of protection against the elements, a source of warmth and light for the leafy green things that will soon grow within.

But the newly built greenhouse in Allegheny College’s Carr Hall garden is different, too, in one fundamental, game-changing way: It produces more energy than it consumes.

“When you have a greenhouse, you expect to pay a lot in electricity and heating costs,” said Kelly Boulton, Allegheny’s sustainability coordinator. “This is flipping that narrative. It shows how possible it is to have a greenhouse without a large energy budget and with a small carbon footprint.”

The key? Groundbreaking solar panel technology. (more…)

Allegheny College Featured in The Princeton Review’s ‘Guide to 375 Green Colleges’

Allegheny College is once again featured in The Princeton Review’s annual guide to the most environmentally responsible schools.

The “Guide to 375 Green Colleges” highlights schools with exceptional commitments to sustainability and includes profiles of each school’s admission requirements, cost and financial aid, and student body, as well as detailed “Green Facts” for some schools.

The Princeton Review chose schools for this eighth annual edition of its “green guide” based on data from a 2016-17 survey of school administrators that asked them to report on their school’s sustainability-related policies, practices and programs.

Allegheny has been included in each of eight editions. (more…)

Allegheny Professor Shares His Fulbright Experience

Eric Pallant photographed his share of sheep, rustic stonewalls, and vintage waterwheels during the spring 2017 semester which he spent in the United Kingdom as part of the Fulbright educational exchange program. Pallant, the Christine Scott Nelson Professor of Environmental Sustainability and chair of the Department of Environmental Science at Allegheny College, also taught students about food, sustainability and green campus initiatives at Lancaster University. And he presented his lecture, “6000 Years of Bread,” at Gresham College in London.

This was Pallant’s second Fulbright experience. In 2001 he was awarded a Fulbright to teach and conduct research at Israel’s Arava Institute for Environmental Studies.


Allegheny Senior Awarded Grant for Environmental Research

Allegheny College senior Alexandrea Rice has been awarded a Davey Foundation Annual Arbor Grant for her work in eco-friendly research. Rice is an environmental science major, with a focus in forest and soil science, and a geology minor.

“The award is a testament to Alex’s work as an undergraduate in (Professor) Rich Bowden’s lab on a green-industry approach to forestry and arboriculture,” says Scott Wissinger, chair of Allegheny’s Environmental Science Department.


Alumna’s research shared with Ben and Jerry’s

In April, Lindsey Kelley’s ’15 comp, “Corporate Social Responsibility in Supply Chains: Factors for Consideration in Developing Adaptation Strategies for Ugandan Vanilla Farmers Affected By Drought,” was distributed to development specialists in Africa. Her research was also being shared with the corporate leadership team at Ben and Jerry’s. Her research looked at how Ugandan farmers that want to supply vanilla to Ben and Jerry’s could best adapt their practices to accommodate incipient climate change

Professors Jacobs and Waggett Serve as Judges for International Science and Engineering Fair

Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology Anne Jacobs and Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Global Health Studies Caryl Waggett were invited to be Grand Judges for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh in May. This fair gathers top projects designed and conducted by 9th through 12th grade students from around the world who have earned the right to participate by winning a top prize at a local, regional, state or national competition. Nearly 1,700 young scientists participated from more than 75 countries. The judges assisted in the selection and awarding of more than $1.6 million in awards and scholarships to these students.

Cultivating a Career — In a Nontraditional Way

             By the time she realized she had a passion for sustainable agriculture, Jayne Shord already was busy nurturing her life and career. She had experiences that most college students don’t have yet. She also enjoyed a passion for education that led her to who she is now – the owner of Beech Springs Farm.

When Shord decided to attend Allegheny College, she was 46 years old and had raised a family. For years, she had been a stay-at-home mom with four children, returning to full-time employment in 1979. She worked as an administrative assistant at several businesses in Pittsburgh before relocating to Chambersburg, Pa., in 1990, where she worked for the president of Wilson College for several years.

A month-long program in Argentina through Rotary International’s Group Study Exchange, though, fueled her fire for further education. (She had taken some introductory level courses at local colleges when her children were young and had accumulated about a year’s worth of credits.)

“Because of the experiences I had in Argentina, I gained an awareness of how other people lived and how different the world is from the United States. It made me want to learn and do more.” The birth of her grandchildren also inspired her to go back to school: “I could see that the world was changing. I thought that, maybe, there was something I could do to make a difference.” Encouragement from her future husband, Bill, sealed the deal.

She started by seeking out undergraduate programs in environmental studies in 1995. “Agriculture had always been a love of mine,” she says. Growing up on a farm, she fondly remembers experimenting with cultivating trees and bushes and persuading her father to dig vegetable gardens for her. “An environmental program seemed like a perfect fit.”

Allegheny was on her list of prospective schools that she visited. A serendipitous encounter with a student on campus connected Shord with then-Environmental Science/Studies Professor Michael Maniates. Professor Maniates’ encouragement helped her make her decision easier. “He kept trying to cultivate me as a student and took me under his wing. It helped to know there was someone on campus that I had developed a relationship with, someone there to root me on, even before I became a student.”

Many things on campus impressed her, including the longevity and reputation of its environmental science program, the professors and the campus. She started in January 1996. “When I first went to Allegheny, I had no idea what I wanted to do or how I would use my education. I just knew that I wanted to finish what I had started many years before and to see where I might make a difference in the world.”

She laughs at the fact that, following her first semester, she got married in August, returned to school two weeks after her wedding and then spent the spring semester in Costa Rica, where she celebrated her 50th birthday. She wanted to do “the whole college experience.” Non-traditional, maybe, but it worked.

During the summer of 1997, Shord interned on the Wilson College farm and became involved in its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. She returned to Wilson during the spring semester of her senior year to work on her senior project, The Food Project at Wilson College: A Study to Support Sustainable Food Systems by Redesigning Institutional Buying, and to intern under the director of the college’s Fulton Center for Sustainable Living. Shord graduated from Allegheny in 1999 as an Alden Scholar. She would go on to become the Fulton Center’s interim director immediately following graduation, a position that would bring her steps closer to what she would ultimately become – a farm owner.

She talks fondly about the years following, years that were filled with environmental activist work in the Chambersburg area, organizing the South Central Farmers Market Association, and the South Gate and the Branch Creek Farmer’s Markets.  “Starting farmers markets was a natural offshoot of my comp.” As its name suggests, Shord’s mission was to locate farmers that could potentially supply food to Wilson College’s dining hall. “Working with farmers was my favorite part of the process. As time went on and my education progressed, I started to see that I wanted to be the farmer.”

Thus, Beech Springs Farm – or at least its conception – was born. About a week after Sept. 11, 2011, through a happenstance meeting at a local nursery, Shord met someone who told her about a property for sale near Gettysburg.  “The property was already sold and the closing was scheduled in six weeks; however, we put in a backup offer and we amazingly we got it. We purchased the farm and relocated to Adams County.”

“From the beginning, I thought the property was so pretty and wondered how I might share it with others!  In the beginning, I didn’t have a plan. Most of what we do has just evolved. I began my farming venture by growing salad greens in a hoop house and marketing them to local food stores.  I progressed to selling heirloom vegetables, herbs and flowers at the farmer’s market on the square in Gettysburg for six years.”

In 2010, Shord initiated a CSA program on the farm, which is now in its fifth year. As part of their CSA share, members have access to the farm’s herb and flower gardens, and products from other Adams County farms. In addition to the CSA program, the farm also hosts weddings, Victorian teas, luncheons, Civil War barn dances and quilt shows. In 2015, the farm began hosting a series of farm-to-table dinners complete with entertainment.

Her days’ activities include tending to her gardens, harvesting produce, interviewing couples for weddings, supervising employees, running errands for programs, turning compost, experimenting with new gardening techniques or marketing herself on Facebook. Its all part of her job description. “There’s always something to do and there is always a new challenge.”

No matter what the challenge, though, it doesn’t seem to get her down. “One of the things I go back to from my Allegheny education, time and time again, are the critical thinking skills that I developed while I was there as a student. I was always encouraged to look deeper. I came away with a different way of looking at the world and at the bigger picture. That’s something that’s remained with me.”

“I loved my Allegheny experience. It was one of the best parts of my life. Because I was so interested in sustainable agriculture I tried to incorporate it into everything that I studied. … Allegheny has come a long way even since I graduated. (Allegheny Environmental Science/Studies Professor) Eric Pallant tells me that I attended  five years too early because now Allegheny is doing so many amazing things that I would be interested in.  I wish I could come back and go to school now.”

Good luck getting her away from what she’s doing. “The best part of my job is that I get to go to work every day in such a beautiful place, to do what I love—to walk out my back door and go to work. I have the perfect job!”


Students and Staff Present Work at Environmental Educators Conference

Wendy Kedzierski, Creek Connections project director; Laura Branby, Creek Connections Pittsburgh area educator/Creek Camp director; and Kelcy Wagner ’15 and Kristy Garcia ’15 attended the 2015 Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators (PAEE) Conference at Lake Raystown Resort March 13-14. Kelcy presented on her senior project in a workshop called “Making Sense of Sustainability.” Laura and Wendy presented about how to keep a long-term project like Creek Connections successful in a workshop titled “Staying Current in the Creek.” Kristy made her graphic novel for students, “The Mysteries of French Creek,” available to educators and answered questions.

From Junk to Funk

Allegheny students make a fashion statement with trash

Lying on the table were a few pieces of cardboard, some wrinkled aluminum foil and about 30 never-before-played CDs. Oh, and don’t forget the large bag overflowing with old microfilm.

Some would see this and search for the nearest trashcan. But not Jared Balik, Emily Herwerden and Rose Fischer. These students look at what most consider trash and instead see treasure.

The students are using these items and more to create costumes for Allegheny’s sixth annual Trashion Show, an annual fashion-style show that encourages groups and individuals to create funky outfits using only recycled material that would otherwise go in the recycle bin or trash. The show will take place Sunday, March 29, at 4 p.m. in the Campus Center Lobby.

This year’s event, called “Junk Jungle,” is hosted by Students for Environmental Action (SEA), a group whose goal is to work for a positive change, creating a healthier environment and more sustainable planet and way of life.

2013 WinnerAccording to junior Jared Balik, SEA co-president, the idea for the Trashion Show is to promote waste awareness and recycling/reuse. Some examples of materials used for costumes in the past include egg and milk cartons, newspaper, plastic bottles, solo cups, flour bags and 35-mm film.

“We try to use the event as an educational opportunity to raise awareness about waste minimization efforts,” says Balik, who is a double major in biology and environmental science. “I think participants walk away with an enhanced appreciation for what creativity can accomplish in terms of repurposing ‘junk.’”

Each year, the show averages 10 to 12 entries. A panel of judges including administrators and students chooses winners based on categories such as “best outfit” or “most wearable outfit.” Assistant Professor of English Matthew Ferrence serves as emcee.

“The Trashion Show is a chance for students to show their creativity,” says senior Emily Herwerden, SEA treasurer who is a double major in environmental studies and German. “This is my first time creating an outfit for the show. I’m really excited to be involved this year.”

Herwerden says she plans to use CDs that were donated from the College’s radio station, WARC 90.3, to make a dress for the show. “I plan to flip the CDs silver-side out and use them on the skirt,” she says. “We also received the donation of old microfilm from the library, so I plan to use that as the bodice.”

2014 groupPlanning for the annual event doesn’t happen overnight. Balik says it requires a “daunting amount of planning and a bunch of student-led committees,” with the group setting up the Campus Center lobby and stages, coordinating lights and sound, advertising and promoting the event, designing decorations and recruiting individuals to create outfits.

Freshman Rose Fischer, who plans to major in environmental science, serves as an SEA member and is on the decoration committee for this year’s Trashion Show. She says the group already has brainstormed ideas to make sure the stage fits in with this year’s “Junk Jungle” theme.

“We’re planning to use potato chip bags to make a sun and cardboard to make animals like monkeys, jaguars and toucans,” she says. “We also hope to make bugs out of bottle caps and packing peanuts, and we’re planning to spray-paint the microfilm green to make vines.

“I’m excited to see everyone’s creativity,” she adds. “We tend to think of trash as waste, but you can really repurpose it in a lot of amazing ways. Making fashion out of it is one way to do that.”

“The planning for the event can be stressful, but seeing it all happen is so satisfying, and everyone has such a great time,” Balik adds. “And if someone learns something, that’s even better. Somehow it always comes together, and it’s beautiful.

“I think the Trashion Show is unique in that it brings a kind of creativity to campus that I’ve never seen elsewhere,” he adds. “It brings people together, and it gets people pumped about environmentalism.” Ranks Allegheny College’s Environmental Science/Studies Department No. 2 in the Nation

Allegheny College’s Environmental Science/Studies Department ranks No. 2 in the country, according to, a website dedicated to environmental science education and careers.

Allegheny’s program “teaches students to analyze the relationships between humans and the environment that we live with and use,” the site says.

Factors considered in the ranking were location, environmental practices, faculty, study abroad opportunities, teaching methods, program breadth, degree levels offered and renowned research.

“Allegheny’s environmental science department has long been dedicated to teaching students to solve real-world environmental problems,” says Professor Eric Pallant, department chair. “More than a dozen Allegheny faculty with exceptional breadth and depth in environmental problem-solving work shoulder-to-shoulder with students to make the world more sustainable. Our students and alumni have achieved extraordinary success in promoting environmental sustainability. It is a wonderful achievement to be recognized by the nation’s most reliable and expansive advocate for environmental science education and careers.” (more…)