Chatham at the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Conference

Early this October, the 3rd annual Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Conference took place in downtown Pittsburgh. Many of Chatham’s sustainability students were able to attend and learn about ways to improve the environment of campus life on Chatham and to share ideas with other sustainability students from across the country.

The Student Summit on Tuesday opened up with a keynote by environmental scientist and sustainable policy expert Garrett Blad, who had a hopeful take on the current state of environmental affairs. Focusing on the extent of the power young people have over climate change action, he encouraged attendees to stand up for sustainable policy in everyday life by living a more sustainable lifestyle and supporting sustainable brands. As the executive director for the advocacy group SustainUS, Garrett Blad certainly has the experience to back up his talk. SustainUS offers youth-led training sessions for organizations, schools, and universities to educate and empower youth. More on these training sessions can be found here.

Chatham Sustainability Students at the Convention Center in Downtown Pittsburgh – Oct. 3rd.

The rest of the Student Summit was split into one hour long sessions led by the movers and shakers of sustainability movements across the country. Of the seminars attended by K-12 team member Morgan Block, one dealt with how Aramark, a food supply company for college campuses, is working to introduce more plant-based options at college dining halls. A diet that less meat-centered is better for the environment as growing vegetables requires less water and produces fewer carbon emissions than producing meat. An idea that Aramark and other universities came up with to promote a plant-based diet was “Meatless Mondays”, which failed on most campuses it was tried on, including Chatham. Not to be discouraged, Aramark found a way to reduce the amount of meat that needed to be prepared by simply arranging food courts so that students reached vegetarian options first, so they had less space for meat. This is a great example of working within limits that might be imposed on you by a budget, organization, or school culture to still make changes for a positive environmental impact. Aramark has a number of other sustainability programs in place for college campuses and K-12 school districts, which you can read about here. What sustainability initiatives do your food service provider have in place? How might students engage to help evaluate and enhance these initiatives?

Another seminar attended by one of Chatham’s sustainability students was titled “Sustaining our Communities Through Care and Action”, lead by Western Washington University Sustainable Action Fund Education Coordinator, Kate Rayner-Fried. This presentation was about how “community care principles”, such as outreach in disadvantaged communities, can be incorporated into sustainability thought, organizations, and actions. Rayner-Fried explained that the only way to have a truly successful movement, in sustainability or otherwise, was to share knowledge and to empower marginalized groups. Time was given to participants of this session to brainstorm ways to apply these ethics to our own organizations, whether they be professional or our school community.

To read more about AASHE and their mission, click here.

Now Offering Integrated Pest Management Field Trip Activity for Grades 9-12

Chatham University uses Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to control the insects that do damage to our environment. In a new program option now offered during Eden Hall field trips, students explore and learn about IPM in agriculture through discussions, activities, and reflections. Students develop and apply knowledge to distinguish when bugs are considered beneficial or pests, and put into practice some of the most important steps of IPM.

This newest activity includes defining and developing the “IPM pyramid” and researching evidence of pests in either the solar high tunnel or the on-campus farm. Photographs taken during these activities are uploaded to the larger Eden Hall IPM Evidence Database, and will contribute to a much larger scientific database and tracking system that benefits the overall health of the Eden Hall environment.

This IPM program was piloted during a food-themed visit from Hampton High School this November. Check out some photos from the program below. In addition to documenting pests found on campus, Hampton’s field trip itinerary also included a family style lunch and a food-focused campus tour (highlighting the aquaculture lab, vertical gardens, and all campus growing spaces). Stay tuned for future blog posts on our new lunch program, and an extension of the IPM activity into lower grades.

Hampton High School students look for and document evidence of pests in the solar high tunnel at Eden Hall.

A Hampton High School student and teacher look for and document evidence of pests in the solar high tunnel at Eden Hall.

Hampton High School students look for and document evidence of pests in the solar high tunnel at Eden Hall.

by Dani San Filippo, Food Studies Grad Student and Eden Hall K-12 Farm & Garden Educator

Eden Hall Summer Teacher Fellowship 2016

Thanks to generous support from the Benedum Foundation, this summer the Eden Hall Campus hosted five teachers for the Eden Hall Summer Teacher Fellowship. Over five days, educators came together to learn about sustainability content from Chatham faculty and build Problem Based Learning (PBL) lessons and unit plans to use in the classroom over the coming school year. This year’s participating schools included: Penn Hills Junior High School, Pittsburgh Public Gifted Center, Environmental Charter School, and Falk Laboratory School.

Faculty content sessions included:

  • Renewable Energy and Green Buildings with Mary Whitney, Director of University Sustainability
  • Sustainable Agriculture with John Taylor, Assistant Professor of Agroecology
  • Ecology and Biodiversity with Ryan Utz, Assistant Professor of Water Resources
  • Place, Health and Well-Being with Mary Beth Mannarino, Assistant Professor of Psychology
  • Aquaculture and Aquaponics with Roy Weitzell, Aquatic Laboratory Director

PBL training was provided in partnership with ASSET and fellows were also given time to visit with community partners relevant to their lesson planning over the course of the week. We are excited for all of these passionate educators to come back to Eden Hall with their students over this coming year as they pilot their PBL unit in sustainability!

Here’s what some of the Fellows had to say about the week themselves:

“This experience was incredibly enriching and definitely furthered my capacities as an educator. I am so thankful that I was able to take part in this and hope that it continues to grow and change education!”

“I enjoyed the real hands on time with professors/experts in the field of sustainability and the community of teachers who shared ideas, resources, and insight with one another.”

“I was fascinated by the professors talks and demonstrations. Just like our students, I loved the hands on learning of the moth watch, log inoculation, tour of the facilities, solar oven demo. I appreciated the time to explore community partners that were of interest to us (local farms). I enjoyed the camaraderie of my fellow teachers, our brainstorming sessions and socializing.”

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