Four recipients of Gilchrist Environmental Fellowships during the 2017–18 school year presented their projects and were honored at a gathering on Tuesday, October 30.
The projects included an inclusive art exhibit dedicated to environmental concerns; an indoor hydroponic garden and plant wall; and funding for two students to pursue individual explorations in the Galapagos Islands last March, on a trip organized by the Alvord Center for Global & Environmental Studies.
In a ceremony in the Gilchrist Auditorium of the Clark Center for Science & Mathematics and with their teachers, mentors, and families in attendance, the fellows, all seniors, were recognized for their work on their projects and explorations. Their names are inscribed on a commemorative plaque bearing the names of all the Gilchrist Environmental Fellows past, present, and future in the Clark Center.
Jeff Dyreson, Loomis Chaffee's director of environmental/sustainability initiatives and associate director of the Alvord Center, commended the fellowship recipients for their work and dedication, and he acknowledged their contributions to making Loomis a better place in the spirit of environmental stewardship and sustainability.
The ceremony included presentations on each of the projects.
Senior Kalina "Kiki" Szemraj established an environmentally-focused art exhibit, called Gaia after the Greek Mother Earth goddess, to decorate wall space in a hallway of Clark. Motivated by sustainability and ecological concerns, Kiki has been a leader of environmental programs and activities at Loomis since her freshman year. In addition to serving as an environmental proctor (e-proctor) and head e-proctor, Kiki has organized documentary screenings for the campus community, researched ways to bring energy-conserving technologies to Loomis, and participated in efforts to change people's behaviors related to environmental conservation. For Gaia, Kiki solicited art submissions that reflected the Earth and its living inhabitants. Students across the Green Schools Alliance, a coalition of sustainability-minded independent school students from across New England, submitted artwork. She collected, framed, and hung the artwork this fall. Kiki said she is pleased to see a display on the Clark Center walls that is meaningful and appropriate for the Clark Center's purpose, and she plans to refresh the exhibition with new submissions in the spring.
Coming to Loomis from a large ranch in Colorado inspired senior Nina Gildor to get involved in agriculture and sustainability programs, Nina said. Her project inspiration came from seeing a hydroponic garden and rock wall at Suffield Academy and thinking it would be a unique addition to the vegetable, herb, and flower gardens in Loomis' Agriculture Program. In a self-sustaining hydroponic garden and living wall, plants are rooted to the wall (no soil is used) and a liquid solution of nutrients and water is continually pumped through the roots so that the plants can grow and thrive. Nina first consulted with a member of the science faculty at Suffield Academy, and with direction and assistance from Gratia Lee, Loomis' director of sustainable agriculture programs, and Loomis science teacher Neil Chaudhary '04, she purchased the necessary supplies and built the garden and living wall structure which can be viewed in the Clark Center foyer.
Senior Molly Henderson took part in a research project with the Galapagos Science Center to collect and document plastics found on beaches and their effects on wildlife, especially the marine turtle, and delicate ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands. Molly was awarded a Gilchrist Fellowship to fund her travel to the Galapagos as part of an Alvord Center educational trip in March. A talented dancer, Molly is using her experience and what she learned about the marine turtles to choreograph an interpretive dance to be performed during a presentation of Loomis Chaffee's Theater & Dance Department.
Senior Adam Guillemette also received a Gilchrist Fellowship to join the Galapagos trip which will inform his independent environmental research project aimed at conserving resources and reducing waste on the Island.
The Gilchrist Environmental Fellowship program, created in 2012 after a grant from the Wallace Research Foundation, enables Loomis community members "to continue to build upon the initial successes of the Sustainability Committee and discover new opportunities for education and action in the philosophy of environmental stewardship and sustainability." Fellowships are granted each year based on proposed projects that meet the program's goals.
Interested students and faculty should look for an announcement and application information for the next round of Gilchrist Fellowships which will be published in the Daily Bulletin and Community e-News at the end of Fall Term.