Allegheny College Students and Faculty Member Receive Prestigious Statewide Honor as Campus Sustainability Champions

The Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium has honored Allegheny College students Ashlynn Peachey and Molly Tarvin and Environmental Science & Sustainability Professor Eric Pallant as 2022 Campus Sustainability Champions. The program recognizes students, faculty, administrators and staff, as well as student and non-student organizations, of Pennsylvania colleges and universities who have made meaningful contributions toward environmental sustainability on their campus, in their community or in society at large.

Ashlynn Peachey (photo by Paige Penfield)

Ashlynn Peachey, a junior who is double majoring in environmental science & sustainability (ESS) and global health studies, has been one of the most active students in the ESS department in recent years. For more than two years, she has been part of the Allegheny Sustainable Design Team, which has been working to design and implement a food forest on campus, and she became the president of this group in the fall 2021 semester. She has also been active with Students for Environmental Action (SEA) and is now co-president of that group. Peachey serves on the board of the college’s BikeShare program and is a member of the college Outing Club.

In addition to working on the food forest on Allegheny’s campus, Peachey has worked through the Sustainable Design Team to teach students about permaculture concepts and techniques, sustainable design concepts and sustainable agriculture. Right now, Peachey’s role in SEA is working with Allegheny’s director of sustainability to promote reusable food containers on campus (the green box program), coordinate trash cleanup events on and around campus, and investigate the logistics of restarting a food rescue program that would funnel unused food from cafeterias on campus to the Meadville community. Outside of her work with different campus student groups, Peachey has also been involved with off campus work helping to create pollinator plots at a small local wetland area, as well as assisting with the creation of management plans to control invasive species in the wetland.

Molly Tarvin (photo by Paige Penfield)

Molly Tarvin, a senior majoring in ESS with economics and writing minors, has been a stalwart in gluing together the ESS department, serving for the past two years on the staff of the ESS newsletter, and this year, serving as its editor. In her role, Tarvin has written articles and worked with ESS faculty to seek out stories. As editor, she has sought new writers to join the team, and worked to edit the copy material. The newsletter is published monthly. Tarvin also held a prestigious internship last summer with Second Nature, and she has been an active member of the ESS department.

The ESS newsletter is published monthly and is geared primarily toward feature articles, including stories of student accomplishments, faculty research and projects, and departmental activities. Articles on alumni help current students to see the link between their current life in college and the professional or graduate world post-graduation.  Given the nature of students who are busy, Tarvin has had to contend with students coming and going from the newsletter staff. Always, however, she has been able to recruit students to assist with the letter. A valuable addition that she brought this year was to include a humanities component to the newsletter, thus broadening the way in which environmental activities and ideas are approached and communicated. Tarvin maintains a busy student life and has been a committed and successful member of the Allegheny women’s cross country and track & field teams.

Professor Eric Pallant (photo by John Mangine)

Eric Pallant, the Christine Scott Nelson ’73 Endowed Professor of Environmental Science & Sustainability, has been a pillar of the ESS department since 1987. He is recognized on campus, nationally and internationally for sustainability initiatives in energy conservation, sustainable food systems, soil conservation, campus sustainability, sustainability in higher education, water resources, ecotourism and forest conservation. He has assisted with energy conservation efforts at Allegheny, advocated to establish a sustainability office on campus and is usually involved in or is a leader in all campus sustainability initiatives.

Pallant has served twice as department chair, for 18 of his 35 years as a professor. He has led several internal and external departmental reviews and has shaped the ESS department into a national model. He led efforts to establish a garden on campus and hire a garden manager and host of student assistants. He co-led efforts for Allegheny to become the eighth college or university in the nation to become carbon neutral. He has played a key role in Carr Hall becoming LEED certified, raised awareness of current and prospective students of campus sustainability efforts, and developed sustainability-themed international study student tours. He assists with the annual Allegheny Energy Challenge, reducing on-campus energy use and funding campus environmental initiatives, and recently spurred efforts to develop a resilient campus forest. He served as the founder and director of the Allegheny Center for Economic and Environmental Development for more than a decade, engaging Allegheny students, faculty and the community in partnerships to promote sustainable forestry, agriculture, energy, land use, curriculum and industry.

Pallant has been an active researcher in the natural resources, examining effects of acid rain on soils, the importance of sustainable agriculture in soil and root dynamics, tropical forest ecology, and mine land reclamation. He was the first Allegheny professor to study effects of acid rain on soils in this area, and he has published on the linkage between soil health and sustainable agriculture.

His sustainability efforts in the community are numerous. For example, he has worked with the local hospital to reduce waste and in a nearby neighborhood to promote sustainability. Regionally, he has engaged in efforts to promote forest sustainability, aquaponics, and ecotourism, and he has conducted more than 30 academic environmental science program reviews.

Pallant has received two Fulbright Awards, is a member of the Friends of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Israel and is a U.S. State Department Environmental Speaker and Specialist. He has published more than 50 peer-reviewed manuscripts and received the Best Paper Award for the 2018 World Symposium on Sustainable Development, the 1999 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence and the 1999 Three Rivers Environmental Award in Higher Education. He has served on numerous local, regional, national and international advisory boards. Pallant has received widespread acclaim for his recent book, “Sourdough Culture,” including a spot on Science Friday from National Public Radio and a feature by CNN.

Pallant has received both of Allegheny’s prestigious teaching awards, has taught numerous study-away international courses and has provided many seminars on sustainability topics to international audiences. He developed the immensely popular course Soil to Plate and is a sought-after advisor.

About the Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium
The Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium, a state-level organization in the United States, is a consortium of colleges and universities in Pennsylvania that collaborate in order to advance sustainability on member campuses, in local communities, and across the Commonwealth. PERC members share their success stories through conferences, workshops, webinars, web learning cohorts, and regularly emailed communications to help institutions learn from one another. In its more than 20 years of operation, PERC has spearheaded a number of major initiatives that have impacted sustainable campus operations, state and local level policy, community initiatives, and education. Such initiatives include food recovery, climate efforts, environmental justice, public environmental health, and campus sustainability champions. Through these initiatives, PERC member institutions can deepen their on campus, community, and state-level impacts and networks, demonstrating that a collaborative networking consortium can have a greater impact on education, operations, and outreach in sustainability and environment arenas than individuals or institutions acting alone.

About Allegheny College
Allegheny College, founded in 1815, is one of the nation’s oldest and most innovative four-year colleges where multidisciplinary learning breaks the conventional mold. It is one of the few colleges in the United States with a unique requirement to choose both a major and minor for graduation, to provide students with a cross-disciplinary path in the sciences and humanities for educational depth and intellectual growth. Located in Meadville, Pennsylvania, Allegheny College is one of 40 colleges featured in Loren Pope’s “Colleges That Change Lives.”

The college has notable environmental sustainability accomplishments on campus, including carbon neutrality, on-campus solar energy production, organic food production, in-vessel food waste composting, and resource reduction. In the last decade, paper consumption has been reduced 30% and water consumption has decreased 40%. Installation of water refill stations on campus has drastically reduced single-use plastic bottle consumption. Recent building construction or renovations have been LEED-certified, including use of geothermal heating and cooling systems.