Sustainable Saturday: Go Fish!

 

Saturday, February 4th, we welcomed 30 guests to campus to learn how we can reduce water and energy to grow food in our homes year-round. Each family used an assortment of reused materials to build their own mini-aquaponics system, including a 2-liter bottle and an old wash cloth. With some help from a friendly betta fish, each system will soon grow basil for their own kitchen using zero energy! Families were also toured through our aquaculture lab, solar high tunnel, and living green wall to see other unique ways we grow plants on campus. Be sure to check out our Sustainable Saturdays website to learn more and register for our final event in the Sustainable Saturdays series, Solar Superheroes.

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

Eagle Scout Project Adds New Outdoor Classroom to Eden Hall Campus

This summer, Matt Ferris,  an Eagle Scout Candidate in Boy Scout Troop 144, built an outdoor classroom for Chatham’s Eden Hall Campus.

On Saturday August 12th Matt delivered benches and a portable chalk board he made from scratch over the summer.With the help of his troop members, Matt carried a total of 8 benches down one of Eden Hall’s hiking trails to an open plot of land. A huge thank you to Matt for making this great resource for the campus! We look forward to using it with higher ed classes, K-12 field trips and family programs.

OC The finished outdoor classroom, photographed by Matt Ferris.

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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Sustainability Leadership Academy 2016

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.”

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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.

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