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A Chance to Make a Difference on Campus 

The projects range from LED lights in Harman Hall and hydration stations in various buildings to pollinator plantings, hydroponics, and maple sugaring. All of these grew out of a vision by Loomis Chaffee students who received Gilchrist Environmental Fellowship (GEF) funding to turn proposals into action. 

The goal of the GEF, which began in 2013, is to fund environmental sustainability projects that benefit the LC community and the person or persons submitting the idea. This year’s GEF application process is now open; the deadline for first call of proposals is December 14 (view this link). Eligible participants include all members of the Loomis Chaffee community (individual students, student groups, individual faculty, departments, and staff). Fellowship costs should be planned within the range of $500–$5,000. A committee makes the final choices.  

Maple sugaring started small in 2021, the idea of then-senior Alejandro Rincón. It has grown to the point that there is now a sugar shack on campus where the sap is boiled. A reverse osmosis machine helps make the process more efficient by more quickly removing water from the sap, leaving a more concentrated sap. 

“Maple sugaring programmatically is now a pillar of the Alvord Center,” Associate Director of the Alvord Center Jeff Dyreson said. 

Last year, CL French V classes and advanced biology classes collaborated with the maple sugaring process.  

“For biology, I spent time with the classes talking about the maple sugaring process and some of the biology and chemistry of the process,” Associate Director of the Alvord Center Sarah Griggs said. “For French, I also shared the basics of maple sugaring, but then in collaboration with the teachers we also discussed its relevance to culture in French Canada. All classes also joined me at the sugar shack during a boil to see that portion of the process in action. I’d love to expand collaborations this year.” 

Last year more than seven gallons of syrup was produced. 

“Fingers crossed this winter is more accommodating,” Sarah said.  

The GEF program gets great support from the Loomis community, Dyreson said, from the office of the Head of School Sheila Culbert to the Physical Plant. 

“The GEF is not just talking about doing things,” Dyreson said, “but actually doing them. It is a great way to see action here on campus, and we’re thankful for all the support we receive.” 

When someone applies for a GEF, they must speak to not only the idea conceptually but associated costs, timeline, and commitment. 

“It’s a real-life opportunity to apply for a grant and understand all that entails,” Sarah said. 

“Part of the beauty,” Jeff said, “is that it teaches students how things get done [in the business world]. It’s not just you ask for it and you get it, but there are a lot of challenges, and trials and tribulations.” 

Some of the opportunities for faculty and staff could center on such things as professional development, attending a conference or curriculum development as it relates to environmental sustainability, Dyreson said. 

GEF logo

A few key dates:  

December 4: A design workshop will be held in the Pearse Hub for Innovation (PHI) from 7–8:30 p.m. Come with ideas and talk with faculty and students about fine-tuning your environmental sustainability initiative. 

December 14: First call of proposals/applications due.  

January 19, 2024: Second draft/follow-up applications.  

March 1, 2024: Applications/proposals decisions made. 

Fellowships commence any time after the winter term unless there is a specific request to expedite the project (i.e. senior project). 


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