Running out of Money

Today I finally broke down and got a haircut.  I’ve been putting it off because, although everything in Copenhagen is ridiculously over-priced, haircuts are perhaps the worst offenders.  For men, the cheapest you can find is about $30 USD and if you’re a girl its more like $50.

Its funny how being in another country changes your sense of value.  If I was in America, for example, I would scoff at having to pay $7 for a beer but here that’s a deal.  Sad to say my funds are starting to run pretty low even though my trip is just half-way over.  Luckily my food stipend is still holding though who knows how long that will last…

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Mystery Map XIII

Mystery map

The GIS center team presents the first mystery map of the 2013-2014 school year. This puzzling geographic feature presents wide flat plans abruptly running into an almost perfectly round topographic peninsula. Tell us where this land is, its name, and how such drastically different landscapes formed adjacent to each other?

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Boardwalk Being Built!

Hi Everyone!

This week marks the beginning of a new conservation project in the North Woods! Skidmore Facilities, Sustainable Skidmore, the Skidmore Student Conservation Corps, students from an Environmental Sociology class, and this semester’s North Woods Steward are teaming up to build a new boardwalk on the Red Trail right behind the North Woods Apartments.

This is a photo of a boardwalk at Wilton Wildlife, the North Woods Boardwalk will be very similar!

 
This is a photo of a boardwalk at Wilton Wildlife, the North Woods Boardwalk will be very similar.

The boardwalk will be 250 feet long and four feet wide, and will replace the old boardwalks that are currently falling apart back there. The new boardwalk will help prevent erosion and damaging trail use, as well as make the trail a safer space to be.

We hope to have it built in by the end of the fall semester. If you have any questions or want to get involved, please email North Woods Steward Eliza Hollister at ehollist@skidmore.edu.

Enjoy these beautiful fleeting weeks of fall!

-Eliza

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Happy Exploring!

This is my last post as a North Woods Steward! We have accomplished a lot this summer, from putting up signs and dealing with invasive plant species to making videos, leading tours, and learning about the diversity and unique-ness of the North Woods. I will be sad to leave, but know that I am leaving the woods in Eliza’s capable caring hands, and later in those of new stewards. Yay for evolution, change and progress!

Here are the two videos that I made using footage taken by the past North Woods Stewards, Maranda Duval, Charles Glassberg, Adam Schmelkin, Jennifer Garvin, and Sondra Lipshutz to help people connect with the woods.

I hope that you all get a chance to get out into the North Woods and explore! There really is so much there to know, understand and experience.

Happy Exploring for the last time,

Meghan

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Invasive Species Campus Map!

Greetings!

Some cool things are happening this week. We finished putting up the Red Trail signs this morning, and are beginning on the Blue. Today we also finished an interactive map called a storymap of the invasive species on Skidmore Campus with the help of Alex Chaucer. It shows the locations of landscaped invasive species on campus. Check it out in the link below!

Blue and Red Trail Sign 8

Skidmore Invasive Species Storymap

Happy exploring!
-Eliza & Meghan

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Tours and Updates

Hi everyone, happy Wednesday!

This week we led a tour for a group of international students who will begin their Skidmore career this fall, as well as a couple pre-college RAs with the Johns Hopkins CTY program. We had a wonderful time!

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More exciting news this week, we are beginning to put up the Red Trail signs! They will all be up by the end of next week, so keep an eye out!

Happy exploring!
-Meghan & Eliza

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Karen Kellogg serves in new Associate Dean position that includes sustainability

KarenNewsletterThe restructuring of the Dean of Faculty’s Office during the spring of 2012 resulted in the creation of a new Associate Dean position for Infrastructure, Sustainability & Civic Engagement.  The position was created in order to support the growing interest in civic engagement and sustainability, and to assist with space planning and design of the new physical and life science building.  The position was filled internally at the College, and Beau Breslin, Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs, offered Karen Kellogg, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, the position. Karen began her work as Associate Dean in the summer of 2012.

During her 13 years in the Environmental Studies program at Skidmore, Karen invested countless hours building knowledge and awareness of sustainability through her courses and larger operational and curricular efforts at the College, such as helping to launch the Environmental Studies major 10 years ago and the Water Resource Initiative. Karen taught introductory courses in environmental studies and sciences, sustainable development, alternative energy, and a yearlong capstone course focused on community-based sustainability projects.  Outside the classroom, Karen engaged students in research spanning freshwater ecological work to environmental law cases in our local watershed.  She also worked with student teams to organize national conferences focused on environmentally-related teaching and research, climate action, and has brought student teams together to make campus sustainability initiatives more visible.  Even before taking the Associate Dean’s position, Karen has been active in promoting civic engagement through the Responsible Citizenship Task Force and has been involved in planning for the physical and life sciences for the past 10 years.

Over the last year, Karen’s new role in the Dean of Faculty’s Office has brought additional focus and support for sustainability at Skidmore.  A few of the areas where she has already had an impact include:  assisting with the hiring of the two new Sustainability Fellows, communicating sustainability efforts to the Board of Trustees and President’s Cabinet, and providing important guidance and perspective on a sustainability strategic planning proposal as a member of the Campus Sustainability Subcommittee. Karen also serves on the New Initiatives in Sustainability Fund committee, assists with faculty development workshops on sustainability, and has partnered with others on several campus-based sustainability projects.  Karen has helped advance several major initiatives on civic engagement and has co-coordinated the planning for new and renovated physical and life facilities with Kim Frederick, Professor of Chemistry, which sustainability and engagement have both served as guiding principles throughout the design process.

Skidmore has worked closely with Payette, an architectural firm based in Boston, MA, to develop the programming and initial design for new facilities that will promote collaboration both within the sciences and more broadly. The current program includes not only teaching and research spaces, but interdisciplinary spaces that will invite participation from our entire community, hence promoting the cross-disciplinary engagement that is so much a part of the fabric of Skidmore.  There are also plenty of informal gathering spaces throughout the building that will provide important student study areas and contribute to building community on campus.  The building will not only allow us to engage each and every student at Skidmore in the process of science, but the building itself will be a teaching tool, promoting scientific literacy and a better understanding of sustainability. The sustainability features will become more defined as the overall design progresses, but we plan to seek LEED certification for this building.

Karen’s new position with the Dean of Faculty’s Office, her leadership in the science building design process, and her involvement in many other sustainability projects across campus are all exciting examples of the College’s growing capacity to consider and implement sustainability initiatives.

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Skidmore College Announces New Funding Opportunity for Sustainability

IMG_0188Skidmore College was excited to introduce the New Initiatives in Sustainability Fund last semester, a source of funding made available by a grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation to support the Environmental Studies Program and Sustainable Skidmore. The fund supports both campus projects that address the three spheres of sustainability and provides funding to attend conferences and workshops that inform and facilitate campus community learning about sustainability.

The Sustainability Fund aims to broaden the understanding of sustainability and to advance sustainability efforts on campus by providing faculty, staff, and students with new experiential learning opportunities. The Sustainability Fund Review Committee, a group made up of faculty, staff, and students, reviews and awards proposals on a monthly basis. To be considered, each proposal must consider the economic, social, and environmental spheres of sustainability and address the specific set of guidelines that have been developed by the committee. In addition to meeting these requirements, the committee encourages proposals that have a broad or lasting impact on campus, introduce innovative ideas, or have been developed through collaborative partnerships between departments or individuals.

The Review Committee has awarded three proposals since the fund’s announcement last spring. Two of the three awards have helped fund conference attendance fees. One faculty member will be attending a sustainable hunting conference, the outcome of which will influence new course curriculum. The other award went to a student who will attend a tiny house conference. The learning from this conference will inform a facilitated community discussion on the current state of home ownership and cultural success metrics.

The third award went to a student group that implemented the new “Take a Mug, Leave a Mug” program. The program provides campus members with the opportunity to use a reusable mug when purchasing drinks on campus rather than a one-use, disposable cup. Individuals using one of the program’s mugs will receive a discount on their beverage, and when finished, they can drop the mug off at one of the three drop-off locations on campus. The dining hall staff washes the dirty mugs and redistributes them to The Spa, Atrium, and Burgess Cafés. The program has seen great success during the three-week trial run this past spring and we are excited to see it continue once the fall semester begins.

The Review Committee is excited to continue receiving innovative proposals that ultimately build community, collaboration, and an increased understanding of the complexity of sustainability. If you would like to learn more, please visit the Sustainability Fund page to access the New Initiatives in Sustainability Fund guidelines and application form.

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Update from the Skidmore Student Garden

By: Jaya Borgatta, 2013 Summer Garden Manager

gardennewsletter

Hello, I am Jaya Borgatta and I will be managing the Skidmore Student Garden for the summer. While undeclared, my academic interests include biology and environmental studies. Thus far, working in the garden has been a wonderful and rewarding experience! I have already learned a lot about gardening and organization. I have also enjoyed working with the North Woods Stewards and the Sustainability Fellows. I can’t wait to see what the garden has in store for us!

The Skidmore Garden began as a student initiative to experiment with small-scale organic agriculture and to provide local food to the Skidmore community. As time has passed the garden has been remodeled to work within the principles of permaculture. Permaculture gardens use little inputs and produce little waste. This growing season there is an emphasis on companion planting. Companion planting focuses on growing plants that provide each other with mutually beneficial services, like using plants that help repel pests and enrich soil to increase plant yields. With these practices in mind we have planted many varieties of veggies together in the same beds.

There is still a lot we can learn about permaculture, so to further develop the permaculture design and improve growing practices of the garden, Levi Rogers, Sustainability Fellow, and I will be attending the Permaculture Your Campus Conference at U-Mass Amherst. This is going to be an exciting experience for both of us as we connect with others and begin to implement new ideas in the Skidmore Garden.

While effectively implementing permaculture practices is a goal for this growing season, other goals include increasing accessibility, community involvement, increasing crop yields, and increasing revenues so the garden can become economically self-sustaining.  We also hope to grow mushrooms this year as a way to diversify the garden and increase revenues. For now though, we are working to restore the garden and prepare it for what should be a wonderful season.

To stay up to date on all garden activities, please visit our blog!

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Greetings from the North Woods Stewards

By: Eliza Hollister & Meghan Burke, Summer 2013 North Woods Stewardsblogpic

The term stewardship brings many images to mind. It connotes respect, responsibility, and caring. As North Woods Stewards, the two of us work to make the woods the best they can be. A large component of taking care of the woods is working to understand and decide what exactly is best for the woods. The North Woods serve a variety of functions to many different people, and part of our job is to work with all those different perspectives to sustain the health of the woods and create a usable, safe, and inviting space for people to interact with.

Right now, we are working to improve the woods by removing invasive plant species. Garlic Mustard is a very common non-native weed that can take over an area and push out other plants. We have been pulling out as much Garlic Mustard as we can in the past few weeks, because they will soon be going to seed. So far we have pulled out about 6,000 plants!  We feel that if this is continued year after year, we may be able to eradicate Garlic Mustard from the woods entirely. Japanese Knotweed is another invasive plant species we are trying to remove from the woods. While Knotweed is less likely to take over the woods (it requires more sunlight, and often thrives on the edges between forest and campus) it can overwhelm an area. We are also working to remove Japanese Barberry, a prickly bush that is a great habitat for white-footed mice and ticks, which are linked to higher incidences of Lyme disease. By targeting these invasive plant species we hope to preserve the unique and essential biodiversity of the North Woods.

What about the people who use the woods? We are also working with parts of the woods that affect people more directly. For example, we are proposing a new boardwalk to be built on a flooded section of the Red Trail. This section of the trail is consistently muddy because it is located in a low area that gets flooded during and after heavy rains. This part of the trail, which is behind the Northwoods Apartments, is heavily used, but poorly maintained. Because it gets so muddy, people walk on the edges to avoid the slippery part of the trail. This causes the trail to widen which can lead to erosion and unnecessary trampling of fragile species in addition to making the trails feel less intimate or less natural. We hope to improve this trail with a better boardwalk to make it easier for people to use and to preserve the woods around it. We are also removing fallen trees and working to improve other trails that flood during rain using water bars.

We also have some fun activities that users of the woods can get involved in! Every couple of weeks we will host educational guided tours and activities in the woods. We are hoping to partner up with Camp North Woods, a summer camp program for kids in 1st to 6th grade, to share some of what we love about the woods with the campers. We also plan on having a few service days, where students and community members can come out and help maintain the woods. Service days are a great way to give back to the woods that have provided so many different kinds of experiences for so many people. The woods are a great place to learn and play, but they need our help to continue to thrive!

For news, updates, and upcoming event information, visit the North Woods Blog or our Facebook page!

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