This summer saw the inaugural year of the Sustainability Leadership Academy (SLA) out of Chatham’s Eden Hall Campus. This residential camp program for high school students exposed rising change-agents to topics and skills needed to lead in a sustainable field of work or study. From August 4-7, fourteen participants from four different states met young professionals in the field and Chatham faculty through hands-on activities and tours, both around the city of Pittsburgh and at Eden Hall.
Friday’s city day was full of adventure, starting with a public transit-oriented tour of Downtown Pittsburgh with Sean Luther and Phoebe Downey of Envision Downtown. After a picnic lunch near Point State Park, the group experienced Pittsburgh by kayak, facilitated by Isaac Smith of Green Building Alliance.
The afternoon ended with a tour of Millvale, emphasizing needs and strategies for sustainable communities on the neighborhood and municipality scale with Zaheen Hussein, Millvale’s Sustainability Coordinator. Following dinner on Chatham’s main campus in Shadyside, the SLA enjoyed a night out on the town at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.
After a fun-filled and very active Friday, Saturday’s day on the farm at the Eden Hall Campus started with a session on soil’s role in sustainable agriculture with Assistant Professor of Agroecology, John Taylor. Associate Professor of Biology, Sherie Edenborn, brought microbiology to our taste buds with a chocolate and honey sampling and visit to the campus bee hives. After lunch and some breaks to catch updates in Olympics events on the large screen in the EBC, Assistant Farm Manager, Tony Miga, led participants in sampling water quality from a rainwater capture system he installed on campus. The last session of the day was on renewable energy with Chatham’s new Assistant Professor of Energy Systems, Iris Grossmann. The day ended with a movie night in the pool and group campfire. Everyone wasn’t ready to leave the next morning!
The program was bookended with Leadership Studios, facilitated by Chatham’s Assistant Director for Career Development’s Kate Sheridan. During these sessions, participants examined personal values and mission statements while exploring what it means to be an “everyday leader.”
We had a wonderful time meeting these young leaders and can’t wait for next year! Dates for next year’s SLA, which will be a week-long, will be announced soon. To learn more about the program and to register starting in January 2017, visit the SLA website.