The temperamental weather of this past week has called into question our expectations for seasonal predictability, and with Mother Nature's authority in mind, the snow, sleet, and rain held off for a few hours to allow us to make the most of Proctor's annual observance of Earth Day. Each year, students and faculty allocate a full academic day to exploring diverse and creative ways to interact with and greater appreciate the natural world around us.
“Science is never spontaneous”. A brief sentence shared by science faculty member and Environmental Coordinator Alan McIntyre with his AP Environmental Science students last week that speaks to the intricacies of science our world of immediate gratification tends to ignore. Over the past weeks, Alan’s AP classes finished the final set of tests to conclude a ten-year analysis of the Proctor Pond. Now at the end of the study, they hope to have a clearer picture of the health and vitality of the beloved pond that sits at the heart of campus.
My first reaction after reading a NY Times (Oct 10) editorial on climate regulation rollback was to think about Proctor’s land, the care we take in ensuring a productive woodlot that not only produces timber harvests and creates healthy species habitat, but is also managed for future generations. Then I thought - briefly - about ranting for the environment and against all of the regulatory rollbacks on clean air. I thought about the fires in California, the warming oceans that have created a record tying hurricane season, and all of the inconvenient truths we are now living. In the end, I settled for the swinging bridge.
During a visit to the Dartmouth Entrepreneurship (DEN) for Project Period, Dartmouth’s Director of Entrepreneurship,Jamie Coughlin, described innovation and entrepreneurship as THE 21st century skill students must possess as they enter the workforce. Over the past three years, Proctor has taken Jamie’s advice and run with it through the development of new courses in Social Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship, the adaptation of existing courses to focus heavily on hands-on innovation projects, and the introduction of semi-annual Innovation Nights to showcase student projects each fall and spring.
The loud mechanical whirring of the splitter starting up is a nuisance to some but music to others, it is the tell-tale symphony of spring. The clunk of the log being put on the splitter, the hydraulics powering up, the first crack of wood against the wedge and then comes the complete split and the sputtering of the cylinder. Finally, the dropping of the log in the metal truck bed, which adds a hint of percussion to the melody.
One of my favorite books, The Man Who Planted Trees, is a fictional account of shepherd who lives in a ravaged and wild landscape in a simple hut with his dog and the acorns that he sorts, soaks, and carries with him to plant each day as he tends his flock. A young man who is hiking to escape the tangled destruction of an overly industrialized world encounters the shepherd. The hiker befriends the shepherd and visits him over decades, witnessing the growth of a forest, sees a water table restored, and notices an abundance of species returning to the hills. He marvels and is inspired by the work of a single planter of trees.
Shortly after the first nationwide Earth Day celebration on April 22, 1970, Proctor launched its own Earth Day tradition of dedicating one academic class day each spring to reaffirming our deep commitment to environmental stewardship through hands-on workshops. Today, more than fifty small, faculty sponsored workshops allowed the entire community to pause from the breakneck pace of the Spring Term in order to reconnect with the natural world that surrounds us.