After four years with just one position in the office, Sustainable Skidmore welcomed two new staff just after Thanksgiving break. The two Sustainability Fellow positions are funded from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation grant that was given to Sustainable Skidmore and the Environmental Studies Program. The positions are funded for two years, and both are full time, reporting to the Sustainability Coordinator.
Riley Neugebauer, Sustainability Coordinator, worked with Karen Kellogg, Associate Dean for Infrastructure, Sustainability & Civic Engagement to review the many applications and conduct interviews throughout the summer and early Fall. Neugebauer shared that “there was an amazing and well-qualified pool of applicants for these two positions, and we were very happy that our top candidates agreed to join us for the next two years”.
The two Sustainability Fellows are Levi Rogers and Rachel Willis, each bringing their own set of experiences and skills to the office in order to help advance sustainability efforts at Skidmore.
Levi Rogers joins us from New Hampshire, where he attended the University of New Hampshire for a BS in Environmental Conservation, focusing on sustainable agriculture. He studied abroad in New Zealand where he helped develop a place-based learning module for a local primary school, and also completed a capstone project while at UNH which included an assessment of a conservation easement at a farm in NH.
In addition to his undergraduate degree from UNH, Levi also attended Antioch University New England where he successfully completed an MBA program in Sustainability. He worked on a variety of projects while a student at Antioch, including a feasibility study on utilizing recaptured methane for an aquaponic greenhouse and providing marketing advice to a local chain restaurant. For his final practicum project, he created a research project that identified the most common sustainability challenges faced by higher education institutions, and identified solutions to overcome these challenges.
While at Skidmore, Levi will work on communications initiatives for Sustainable Skidmore, develop and implement a green office program for the campus, work with Skidmore Compost and the Skidmore Student Garden, identify and implement improvements to existing alternative transportation programs, develop additional alternative transportation programs, and work with the Subcommittee for Responsible Citizenship.
Rachel joins us from Northwestern Pennsylvania, where she recently obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from Allegheny College. While she was a student at Allegheny, she served as the Director of Sustainability for Student Government and created a coordinating committee for campus stakeholders who were concerned with sustainability, including staff, faculty, and students.
Allegheny has an impressive record and series of commitments to sustainability, and Rachel was actively involved and providing leadership in various efforts in her role as a student there. Rachel incorporated sustainability into the residence halls and became the first resident advisor for the Green Living community, which she helped to create. She also focused her senior thesis on creating and implementing a sustainable living guide for this community that focused on the sustainable features of the community, expectations of the residents, and outreach and visibility on campus. Rachel also designed a virtual sustainability tour for the Admissions Office at Allegheny to help educate and inform prospective students and their families about the work that Allegheny had done to reduce their impact.
Rachel’s academic experiences also linked to sustainability and environmental health. She conducted research on sustainable urban development for Meadville, where Allegheny is located, she created lesson plans to encourage healthy eating habits amongst pregnant teens, and she led a workshop for science teachers on best management practices for stormwater.
While at Skidmore, Rachel will continue to advance similar initiatives. She will manage the student Sustainability Rep, or S-Rep, program; work on a Sustainability Tour for the campus; manage the student North Woods Steward program; assist with the Skidmore Student Conservation Corps; work with a variety of faculty, staff, and students on materials & waste management; and coordinate the annual Give+Go move-out collection and donation program.
Neugebauer is confident that having the two fellows will positively impact the offerings and programs from Sustainable Skidmore over the next two years, and beyond. She feels that “the addition of Levi and Rachel and their skills and experiences, along with the many supporters and champions around campus, will allow us to extend our network both on campus and off, improve current programs, develop several new programs, and enhance the presence and visibility of sustainability…all towards the larger goal of reducing our overall environmental and social impact while building a stronger sense of community and accountability”. Sustainable Skidmore, as a relatively new office at the college, seems to constantly be evolving and growing, and this serves as another milestone along the way.