In addition to joining one of the environmental classes, students who would like to make a difference on campus can participate in any of the following projects.
In 2009, Vermont Academy students kicked off an initiative to compost our dining hall food waste rather than adding it to a landfill. Every community member participates by adding their food waste to the pile and what comes out is a rich soil additive not only for our gardens, but also available for members of our local community.
Bottled Water Initiative
The Bottled Water Initiative was spearheaded in 2009 by rising seniors, Marika Gerhart, Ana Lundberg and Pier Marquis. The students circulated a petition around Vermont Academy to discontinue the use of bottled water on campus for environmental and human health reasons. The following year, reusable stainless steel bottles replaced single use disposables and outreach projects were undertaken to educate the local elementary school students about issues surrounding bottled water.
Maple Sugaring Project
As the snow begins to melt and spring approaches, the sap is running at Vermont Academy. Each year our students have the opportunity to learn how to make delicious maple syrup by tapping, collecting, and evaporating the sap of sugar maple trees. In 2011, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin came to campus for the ceremonial tapping of the first maple tree. Each year roughly 200 gallons of maple syrup is produced from the trees in the VA sugarbush!
Forest Management Project
Students in the Environmental Classes work to inventory natural resources in the Vermont Academy forest and make recommendations about management to the school. They learn to identify trees by species and to measure their height and diameter. They also learn how to interpret the natural history of New England forests and to recognize and map important habitat features such as vernal pools and calcium rich soils.
Salmon Restoration Project
Each year, Vermont Academy students work with the US Fish & Wildlife Service to help restore populations of Atlantic Salmon to the Connecticut River Watershed. In January, we receive approximately 200 eggs which are incubated in a cold water tank until they have hatched and developed into “fry.” When late spring comes to Vermont (and with it the many insects the salmon feed on), VA students release the little fish into the Saxtons River and wish them well as they grow and eventually migrate to the Atlantic ocean.
Butterfly Garden Project
After learning about Monarch Watch, a project of the University of Kansas, rising senior Dylan Gilbert decided to help provide a little more habitat for these threatened migratory butterflies. Dylan rallied students, faculty and employees from the maintenance and housekeeping departments to help remove the grass in front of Sturtevant House and replace it with a beautiful garden including plant species that Monarch’s and other butterflies are known to thrive on.