Contractor Steve Crowley (far right) works with students to construct boardwalk.
Imagine you are in this predicament. You're in charge of a large natural area. Your objectives are to preserve a unique and fragile ecosystem while providing access to students, scientists and the public for education, research, and enjoyment.
In the space of a few years, its popularity has grown and the resulting wear of thousands of footsteps has taken its toll, both on and off the trail. You try closing the area, then controlling the number of people using it. None of these solutions works. The bog is still being trampled and the management objectives are not being reached. What do you do? In the space of a few years, its popularity has grown and the resulting wear of thousands of footsteps has taken its toll, both on and off the trail. You try closing the area, then controlling the number of people using it. None of these solutions works. The bog is still being trampled and the management objectives are not being reached. What do you do?
For Rick Paradis, manager of the UVM Natural Areas, who faced this problem with the 180 acre Colchester Bog Natural Area , the best solution came in the form of wood planks on plastic floats. During the months of December and January this past wint er, a determined group of people constructed 200 feet of boardwalk in Colchester Bog.
The Design: Part Senior Thesis
It was no simple task to design a way to make the wetland accessible to visitors. Rick Paradis reviewed literature on bog visitation when using a boardwalk. Do people prefer curved or straight paths? What are the reasons people visit bogs - for aesthetics , birding, exploring plant species, a fun family outing? He also looked into boardwalk construction, different types of boardwalks and materials available. In 1992, Karen Cocca, an Environmental Studies major, took Rick's suggestion to create a boardwalk design as her senior thesis. She located the best spot for the boardwalk by interviewing faculty who had used or would like to use the bog, and by deciding where the boardwalk would have to be constructed in order to have minimal impact on the bog ecosyst em. Rick and John Shane from the School of Natural Resources submitted an application to the University's Provost office which granted $5,000 for the project. The Environmental Program's Enrichment Fund matched the sum. Rick then selected Steve Crowley, a local contractor willing to work with volunteers and experienced in preserving wetland ecosystems, to help design and build the boardwalk
The choice of materials was a major decision in designing the boardwalk. "We were faced with a dilemma," Steve Crowley recalled. "Wood offered the best protection from the bog's saturated environment, but many treated woods expose the bog to toxins."
After much research, Rick and Steve found a new wood product called ACQ that did not have arsenic and chromium, the toxins associated with pressure-treated wood. Using as little ACQ as possible in the boardwalk design, they relied mainly on untreated nati
ve hemlock purchased from a sawmill in Starksboro, Vermont.
The key to the boardwalk is the plastic floats shipped from North Carolina that support the boardwalk from the bog's wet mat and from occasional flooding. These floats also reduce the damaging impact on the bog that would occur if the wood were laid direc tly on the bog mat. The special connecting hardware that could not be found in stores was hand-crafted by a metalsmith in Williston, Vermont.
John Shane solicited volunteers from the School of Natural Resources to work on the boardwalk over winter break. Many people responded, particularly members of the Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society. These student volunteers contributed their efforts to all aspects of construction. "It was exciting to see the effort put in. UVM students can have a big impact on their communities," said Erin Metzger '96, who volunteered every other day for two weeks. Like most the volunteers, Mark Hab erle '95 "learned a lot about the natural area and the boardwalk's effect [on the ecosystem]. "I was really pleased with the level of interest and eagerness that people brought to the job," Steve Crowley remarked
We're Not Done Yet!
Currently, only Phase I of the project is completed. Funds to complete Phase II [the remaining 200 feet of the boardwalk] are not yet available. Rick Paradis is seeking funding from within and outside of the University. "It's a great project, one that enh ances the educational and recreational values of the bog, as well as the aesthetic appreciation of this fragile and fascinating ecosystem."
If you are interested in donating time, money, or materials to this project, contact Rick Paradis at the Bittersweet.
In the fall of 1992 several students in the ENVS Senior Seminar decided it was time that the Environmental Program further broaden its vision to address the relationship between racism and the environment. Inspired by a lecture by Robyn Van Ryper from the non-profit organization LEAD/USA, the students sought to design a "Students Teaching Students" (STS) course at UVM.
Course Empowers Students
Developed by two students at Williams College, STS/LEAD USA (Leadership Education and Development) was designed as a learning model intended to empower students. This model redefines the common, society mandated concept of education as a one way dynamic b etween lecturer and student, professor and professee. Students teach students, learning from each other's experience and open discussion.
The group worked with Don DeHayes from SNR, Stephanie Kaza from ENVS and Anthony Chavez, Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, to develop the framework and substance of the course. In the fall of 1993 the first NR 189, "STS Environmental Justice: Issues of Race, Class, Gender, Ethnicity, and the Environment" was offered for credit.
Justin Brown '95, Mitzi Johnson '93, Jason Lillard '94, and Rafael Mares '94, were in the first group of teaching assistants to lead the course. That next spring the teaching assistants were drawn from students in the first class. A group of studen ts and faculty reevaluated and updated the course in the fall of '94 and it was again available this semester.
Focusing on environmental justice, NR 189 explores the incidence and impact of environmental hazards upon people of color, women, and the working class poor. The class also examines the factors that make some United States communities more politically vul nerable to hazardous waste disposal, such as unequal economic opportunity, elitism in the environmental movement, and the historical patterns of individual and institutionalized racism in America and around the world.
Learning Through Action The format of the course includes student and teaching assistant meetings, guest speakers, and films and an experiential education project. This spring some students organized and facilitated a seminar at the public conferen ce "Challenging the World Bank: Who's Really Running Our World?"
Students attended an "Undoing Racism" workshop presented this spring by the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond. The workshop trained students, faculty, organizers, and community members to understand better the ways that racism affects everyone. < P> By relearning a collective history along with personal and institutional politics in the context of racism, students realized (some for the first time) their stake in the system, and their role in organizing for social transformation. This kind of communi ty involvement provides students with valuable, hands-on knowledge not acquired through textbooks.
Due to the rapid rate of development in the environmental justice movement, this course must be regularly reviewed and updated to include current material. NR 195 will be offered this fall and/or next spring.
Environmental Justice" is not the only student taught course that UVM has offered. PSS 197 "Living Self Sufficiently" was designed and taught last fall by Julie Grand '95 who received Environmental Program Honors for her thesis associated with the course.
Students for Biotechnology and Democracy are developing a "Students Teaching Students" course concerning aspects of the science of biotechnology and social issues raised by its rapid emergence in industry and society. The course will also focus on part icipatory democracy and the role of citizens in science policy. They hope to make the course available to the UVM and Burlington communities this fall.
Cooperation Makes It Easy
Laura and Megan were surprised with how easy it was to achieve their goal. They were especially pleased with how eager both Denny Clark of UVM's Solid Waste Office and Ron Chasse, Director of Food Services for Marriot Dining Services were to assist them in developing and implementing the program. The Solid Waste Office immediately ordered food waste bins and gave full financial support for all the educational materials needed to inform students about the project. Marriott supported their staff in h andling the collection details with the UVM Farm.
Food waste composting at an institutional level might sound complicated or unsanitary. Really it's very simple. Students place all food waste, except meat and dairy, into the compost bins. Even napkins can go! Picked up daily by Solid Waste Management, th e waste is taken to the UVM Farm where it is mixed with used cow bedding and turned into a high nutrient fertilizer used on agricultural fields.
Education A Key
Education has been a major part of the project. Laura and Megan enlisted the help of 40 students from Slade Hall and the "Mother Earth" suites at Living and Learning who responded with enthusiasm. They posted flyers, created a how to brochure, and wrote a bout the project in The Vermont Cynic. When composting began in January, volunteers were stationed at tables and at the bins to help people learn what could and could not be composted. They explained to students that composting can reduce waste and the co st of waste removal, and produce an organic fertilizer for UVM and local use, eliminating the need to buy costly non-organic fertilizer.
"Never Say Never" Weathervane staff has reported that they see far less food waste at the end of the day. Because of the project's success, food waste composting may begin at the Simpson and Harris/Millis dining halls this fall. Laura and Megan enc ourage their peers who would like to see policies and practices change here at UVM, to be hopeful and assertive, and to seek help from the appropriate university community members. "Never say Never!" they say, adding, of course, to "take only what you'll eat and keep on composting!" If you are interested in this project, Laura and Megan welcome your help. Over the summer contact Denny Clark at 656-3385.
The University of Vermont's $100 million endowment is invested without regard to ethical, environmental, or social guidelines. There is nothing to prevent the University from profiting from environmental degradation, the production of weapons, worker expl oitation, or cruel tests on animals.
UVM's investment portfolio reveals this reality. By investing in companies such as Motorola, Great Lakes Chemical Corporation, Dow Chemical Company, and Chrysler Corporation, UVM perpetuates environmental and social problems which its students seek to add ress.
In March of 1994, a group of UVM students and community members began meeting to develop ways that the University could invest its money in a more socially responsible manner. To gauge the feelings of students and community members around the issue, the g roup, called the Socially Responsible Investing Coalition (SRIC), circulated a statement of support for socially responsible investing.
That spring, over 1,000 students and community members, including UVM's Student Government Association, and Environmental Program faculty signed a petition requesting that the University begin actively following through on its socially responsible policy which states that "[its] policy of fiscal prudence shall not preclude the University from considering moral, social, and ethical criteria in determining companies in which to invest."
The SRIC brought these signatures and endorsements to the Board of Trustees' subcommittee on Socially Responsible Investing (CSRI) to discuss the University's investment policy. The result was a public forum last summer at which individuals expressed thei r concerns and discussed socially responsible investing alternatives.
The CSRI was receptive to the idea of socially responsible investing, but was unsure of precisely how such investments could be made without minimizing returns or upsetting those donors who are uncomfortable with social responsibility. A compromise was cr eated - a socially responsible endowment separate from the main endowment. This way, only those donors who are interested in such investments would be involved, protecting UVM from any accusations of fiscal irresponsibility.
Throughout the fall of 1994 and spring of 1995, members of CSRI and SRIC worked together to develop a framework for creating a socially responsible endowment.
On February 3, 1995, the proposal was presented Board of Trustees' Investment Committee. It had to pass the proposal before the full Board could vote to create the new endowment. However, a question arose as to whether the Investment Committee was the app ropriate body to review the proposal. According to Committee Chairperson, Frank Walsh, "the charge of the [Investment] Committee is to manage funds that have been accepted for investment." An endowment, he said, is created "by the acceptance of gifts from individual donors, not by board action." A more appropriate vehicle for socially responsible investing had to be pursued.
Ruth Stokes, Board of Trustees Chairperson, recommended additional research on forming a separate endowment that does not conflict with the main endowment or the Investment Committee's fiscal responsibilities. Apparently, she did not understand that the p roposal at hand was created with just such concerns in mind! The CSRI agreed to continue reviewing the creation of a socially responsible endowment and report to the Investment Committee on Friday, May 12.
Members of the SRIC were frustrated. What type of "investment vehicle" would the Investment Committee suggest? In the year it took to develop the proposal for a separate endowment, no one on the CSRI anticipated this obstacle. One is left to wonder why th e Board of Trustees created a socially responsible investment policy in such a way that no productive action could possibly be taken. The answer may be that the Board of Trustees has no interest in living up to their own socially responsible policy and cr eated one as a dupe. According to the Investment Committee meeting, CSRI cannot create a socially responsible endowment, or touch the University's endowment; it can review shareholder resolutions, though University policy is to abstain on any except for t hose related to tobacco advertising. Why have a Committee for Socially Responsible Investing at all if such a body is to have so little power?
SRIC members aren't giving up. They continue to work with the CSRI with the hope of winning Board approval for a socially responsible endowment by the end of this summer. Meetings of SRIC are open to the public. If you interested or want more information, call the Treasurer's Office at 656-2236.
Woodstock happened in 1969. In 1994, youth celebrated Earth Day at a PepsiStock concert! Earth Day, established by Gaylord Nelson in 1970 as a community, grassroots celebration of the Earth, provided a time to focus on problems plaguing our environment an d to target those problems with direct action and solutions.
By the 1980's, a trendy environmental movement began, which since then has turned the general public's attention away from the original thrust of Earth Day, and toward corporate sponsored celebrity events, with huge rock concerts and other media blasts th at steal the integrity from the celebration.
This year youth leaders rallied to bring back the original spirit of Earth Day at a conference organized by the National Student Environmental Action Coalition. The "1995 Earth Day: Free The Planet" conference, held at the University of Pennsylvania on Fe bruary 2426 in Philadelphia, drew together nearly 2,000 students and leaders from 35 states to discuss the commercialization of Earth Day and work for immediate change. About 30 students, most of whom were VSTEP members, attended from UVM, - the largest g roup from any college.
Consumer advocate Ralph Nader's inspirational keynote speech was one of the highlights of the weekend. The idea that most vividly struck me was that we can use all of our energy and brain power collectively to solve these problems. As he pointed out, students in the U.S. today have more resources with TV, radio, newspaper, computers, and the information superhighway than any other social group in the world! We need to use these tools to solve our problems and fight our causes.
The conference combined inspirational speeches, networking groups, workshops, plenary discussions, regional caucuses, and rallies to address issues such as fighting corporate power, building coalitions, working with media, planning a community Earth Day, and organizing boycotts. It culminated with students, escorted by police, peacefully marching two miles to downtown Philadelphia to alert the world that the conference had just revitalized the youth environmental movement in the United States. The event r eceived local and national media coverage.
The "Free the Planet" Conference inspired all those in attendance to carry their skills and ideas home to their communities and universities. Implementing them requires taking back the active and cooperative meaning of Earth Day and demanding from Newt Gi ngrich that an Environmental Bill of Rights be signed by Congress. The goal is one million signatures nationally. VSTEP's goal is 3,500. You can help by signing this petition available in the VSTEP office, or by calling 656-4484 for more information on wh at you can do to "Free the Planet."
Called Dem Dat's Doin', the film is about students who have translated course work into activism on the UVM campus and around the Burlington community. They highlight people who have set up programs such as CUPPS and VSTEP, and worked on local issu es, from recycling and campus ecology to biotechnology.
"At the [Free the Planet] conference we realized how far we've come at UVM in environmental consciousness and change. We wanted to show students the power that they have to create change on campus and in the community," Jen explains.
Now they are getting help from Resolution, a film company that worked with the Vermont International Film Festival, who will help edit and refine the film, free of charge. Dem Dat's Doin' will be distributed to other schools, shown to the introductory ENV S classes, and will be available at the library.
Mark Haberle '95 took 201 with Laura McArthur last fall. He has designed a research thesis to provide a quantifiable data base of information about the trail treadway and the associated ecosystem located along the Long Trail within the UVM Natura A rea on Mount Mansfield. His objective is to establish a perpetual monitoring program for the trail system in the arctic-alpine zone, and to critique and refine the monitoring protocol with emphasis on ease of repetition, data processing, data management a nd data relevance. His research involves extensive work on a literature review, methods design and evaluation, and field data collection and analysis.
Ted Dunham '95 chose an internship with the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) for his ENVS 202 work. He took 201 with Ned this spring. Ted has divided his study into several areas including the ethics of rehabilitating injured raptors and the science and skills of handling injured birds. He has been reading and talking to experts in the field to learn as much as he could before he begins work at VINS this summer. After finishing the internship Ted will prepare a final literature review, h is summary findings and conclusions, and any other products of his work. These might include a video, photo essay or VINS publication.
Living in the area, Lisa continues to stay in touch with the Environmental Program. She regularly speaks to the "Ecology and Geology of Lake Champlain" class, and often works with ENVS interns at the LCBP. Lisa enjoys spending personal time exploring the Adirondacks. To contact Lisa, write to: LCBP, 54 W. Shore Rd., Grand Isle, VT 05458, (802) 3723213. Email: email@example.com
Stephen Shannon '92 works as a Senior Project Assistant at the Board on Natural Disasters, a unit within the National Academy of Sciences. He researches and produces Academy studies related to sustainable development, disaster mitigation and risk a nalysis.
Since 1992 Stephen worked for Warsaw University in Poland, and taught a unit of an environmental economics class for the School of Management. While in Poland he also worked for the Polish Institute of Management, a firm specializing in the privatization of Poland's energy sector. He has also surveyed for the USDA Forest Service in Colorado.
Stephen encourages ENVS students to pursue a broad academic background and to be persistent and patient in today's competitive job market. "Well-rounded environmentally educated graduates are needed in all areas of the workforce." Email Steve: sshannon@na s.edu
Matt Kenna, '87 writes from Durango, Colorado where he has his own law practice devoted to public interest environmental law. His clients are citizen groups and individuals interested in protecting the environment.
Matt very highly recommends the University of Oregon Law School to anyone interested in pursuing public interest environmental law. He attributes his interest in environmental law to Jean Richardson's environmental law class. Matt also reports that he is a bungi jumping instructor! To contact Matt, write to: 1310 Meadow Rd., Durango, CO 81301, (303) 385-6941, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To Our Alumni/ae Included here is just a sampling of things to come. In the next issue of the Bittersweet Vine we would like to focus on YOU. We encourage you to write or send email to share your news and thoughts anytime, and especially in the nex t few months as we prepare to publish again in early fall. What are you up to in your professional and/or personal lives? How has your work and involvement in Environmental Studies at UVM influenced your decisions and your abilities to find and engage in meaningful vocations and avocations? We'd like to include as many photos as possible along with your news. So, keep your cameras handy.
Eventually we hope to maintain an Environmental Program Alumni/ae Network to help current and past students inspire and connect with each other. Send on any ideas you have for this or other projects. At the very least make sure we have your current addres s. Many thanks.
Christine Cordner '96 received the C. Suzanne Whitmore Award presented to a SNR junior or senior who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in written expression.
Jennifer Hecker '96 received the SNR Dean's Book Award offered to a junior in recognition of academic achievement, contributions to student life, and potential to become a leader in natural resource stewardship efforts.
Grey Lee '96, codirector of VSTEP with Kimberly Larson '95 this year, has been elected President of the UVM Student Government Association for the '95'96 school year. Congratulations Grey!
Cheryl Maglosky '97 was chosen by the New England Board of Higher Education as one of the 12 summer interns in their new Vermont Environmental Internship Program, funded through the Freeman Foundation. She will be working in Montpelier with the Dep artment of Housing and Community Affairs on Vermont's Growth Center Project to encourage a traditional settlement pattern of concentrated development surrounded by open countryside. Way to go, Cheryl!
The Natural Areas Summer Internship Program funding has been reinstated. Rick Paradis has hired two interns, A.J. Johnson '96 and Destiny O'Brien '97 to help him manage the university's natural areas this summer. Funds come from retur nable bottles and cans placed in collection bins across campus, and from premiums paid on recycled scrap metal - a financing strategy that Denny Clark, UVM's Solid Waste Manager, created a few years ago.
Thanks largely to first year Environmental Studies student Brian Byrnes '98, the UVM student weekly The Vermont Cynic now has an Environmental Update section, covering campus issues such as polystyrene recycling, as well as projects s tudents are undertaking, and conferences and rallies students have attended. Editor in chief Sallie Sarrel would like even more: ideally, weekly investigative reporting on environmental topics. Contact Sallie at 6564413 if you can help.
Cheers to Susan Clark '83, who was awarded a '95 '96 Switzer Environmental Fellowship to support her master's work on citizen participation in environmental issues in UVM's Natural Resource Planning Program. Susan works with Jean Richardson on EPIC.
ENVS major Mark Haberle '95 has been racing in the Eastern Telemark Circuit for four years. As a full-time student and without any university support or outside assistance, two years ago Mark made the U.S. World Telemark Team that competed in the W orld Championships in LaClusaz, France. This March he raced for the team in the World Cup finals in Lillehamar, Norway. Wow!
The UVM Energy Management Office reports that UVM can expect to save $375,000 annually thanks to 15 lighting conversion projects completed this year with technical assistance and economic evaluation from the Burlington Electric Dept. UVM can expect a payback on the $1.1 million it invested in the project within 28 months.