Student Leaders Discuss Environmental Programs During Earth Week

Student leaders in environmental sustainability and agriculture programs model Earth-friendly behaviors from their homes in Connecticut, Hong Kong, New York, and Thailand.

Student leaders in Loomis Chaffee’s environmental sustainability agriculture programs — known as environmental-proctors and agricultural-proctors, or e-proctors and ag-proctors, on campus — play a significant role in promoting school community-wide education and environmentally-focused activities overseen by the Alvord Center for Global & Environmental Studies. Both student leadership positions are application-based, receive Community Work Program credit, and enable students to gain hands-on experience while contributing to key campus initiatives and grappling with important issues of our time.

Key initiatives of the e-proctors have included:

 - Monitoring waste and recycling on campus

 - Promoting awareness of environmental sustainability

 - Coordinating school-wide events such as SolarFest and Earth Week

 - Managing a resource recovery program to collect health and beauty products, food, and clothing for local charitable organizations at the end of the school year

Key initiatives of the ag-proctors have included:

 - Establishment and maintenance of campus community gardens, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, greenhouse, and composting efforts

 - Construction and use of an apple cider press

 - Construction of an indoor hydroponic system to grow edible plants year-round 

 - Installation of a self-sustaining living wall of plants in the Clark Center for Science & Mathematics

This spring, the e- and ag-proctors celebrated Earth Week by engaging the Loomis community across the globe as the school conducts spring term via distance learning. Meg Stoecklin, associate director of the Alvord Center, spoke with the students elected as head e- and ag-proctors to learn more about their efforts to promote environmental sustainability at Loomis and to find out how these students are celebrating Earth Week at home.

The students’ responses are excerpted below:  

Q: Which on-campus sustainability initiative are you most proud of this year?

Senior Kelly Eng, head e-proctor: This year, I am most proud of the Climate Strike in September. With over 100 students as well as faculty, we joined the crowd in Hartford and brought huge voices to the protests! It was a remarkable day as students showed their passion about the environment.

Junior Kendall Rice, head ag-proctor: The new Blue Earth composting system we established this year! Food waste has always been a major problem on campus, and the compost system we had in place wasn’t working well anymore. We didn’t completely solve the food waste problem, but now at least we can use that waste to create energy.

Junior Pun Sangruji, head ag-proctor: I am definitely most proud of the solar array project. The new solar arrays not only supply Loomis with a lot of electricity, but it is Loomis’s big step towards being more environmentally friendly and sustainable.

 

Q: What are your goals for the future of sustainability at Loomis? Are there any specific exciting things from the e- and ag-Proctors that the community should know about?

Junior Sophie Rodner, head e-proctor: My biggest goal for the future of sustainability at Loomis is to inspire a student body that is conscious of the environmental impact of its actions and advocates on the behalf of the environment. Engaging school-wide activities are key to this objective; we hope to have more events next year that involve and educate the student body, like the Climate Strike, SolarFest, and many of the Earth Week activities we had planned. Still, the school community has the opportunity to stay involved with the sustainability community through Zoom.

Kendall: I hope to educate as many people as possible about the climate crisis we are living in and on the benefits of living sustainably. We can’t force people to make different lifestyle choices and to live sustainably at home, but we can ensure that everyone knows about what is going on with the Earth, and we can give them the tools they need to make a difference if they so choose.

Pun: One of the ag-proctors’ future projects is rebuilding the aquaponics system in the greenhouse. Sadly, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, we currently can’t physically work on the system this term. However, when completed, we will have created a self-sustaining environment in which we can grow plants.

 

Q: How have you practiced sustainability at home during this time of self-isolating?
 

Sophie: It is so important for everyone to stay conscious of the environment and stay vigilant during these times. By staying at home, families are generating much more waste, so it is crucial to make sure that your waste is going in the proper receptacle, and that recycling is cleaned and dealt with appropriately. Also, make sure you and your family are conserving electricity and water. Turn off lights in rooms not in use, take shorter showers, limit dishwasher and recycling loads, and be aware of energy loss. Make sure you are enjoying nature in your free time by hiking or taking your dog for a walk.

Kelly: As a student enrolled in a GERP (Gilchrist Environmental Research Project), I have been trying to reuse cardboard by making it into crafts while filming a storyline, and I will use the video as a message for the school. I also edited an Earth Week video to promote the celebration. Most importantly, I have been making sure that my actions are in the best interest of the environment, such as recycling and turning off lights when unused.

Kendall: My family composts all of our food waste, and we’ve just planted a garden. Personally, I try to make little decisions throughout the day to live more sustainably, like turning off the lights and only taking as much as I can eat.

Pun: In the morning, I usually turn off all my lights and let the natural light do the work. Since I spend a lot of time in my room, I am saving a lot of electricity that would have normally been wasted. I also water my plants every day in hopes of eating them one day!

 

Q:  What does Earth Week mean to you?
 

Sophie: Earth Week is extremely important to me because it is a time when everybody is aware of their environmental impact and appreciating nature. While it was sad that we were not on campus to celebrate together through some interactive events, we [will]still celebrated the Earth by thinking sustainably throughout the week.

Pun: Earth Week to me serves as a reminder to everyone around the world of our duties. It reminds us of the importance of being environmentally friendly and that we need to protect the very place we live in. It is a time where everyone puts all their personal things aside to concentrate on the one issue that affects us all.

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E- and ag-proctor applications for the 2020–21 school year will be published in the Daily Bulletin in the coming weeks. These leadership roles require a significant commitment as they earn Community Work Program credit. Interviews with the head e- and ag-proctors and with faculty members from the Alvord Center are part of the application process. There also are many other ways for students become involved in sustainability efforts at Loomis. Students may choose to attend Alvord Center-sponsored events, take environmental science classes, or join sustainable student clubs such as Project Green or Loomis Chaffee Climate Action. Everyone can be an environmental leader in their own way, and everyone can strive to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable. According to Kelly, Kendall, Pun, and Sophie, the best way students can contribute is by focusing on small actions, like turning off the tap when brushing teeth or turning off the lights when they are not in use.