GMC‘s capstone course, A Delicate Balance, culminates in a project that combines a student’s academic area of focus with civic engagement.
Students take the lead on the projects from beginning to end, and many have made a lasting impact on campus and in the community. The following are just a few recent examples.
Public Art as a Means of Social and Economic Change
Carlie developed the Green Mountain College Native Flower Mural Project, installing a public art work on campus. She developed a design for the project, chose a location, and made a proposal to the College’s Land Use Committee. After receiving approval, she completed the material in the spring of 2014.
Organic Certification for Cerridwen Farm
The aim of this Delicate Balance project was to gain “Certified Organic” status for Green Mountain College’s Cerridwen Farm. In order to obtain the certification, Brian researched organic standards and current farm practices. The research included environmental effects of organic agriculture, and investigated the concept of “organic” as a marketing concept.
Timber Frame Bike Shelter
Adam Zais & Taylor Herman
Adam and Taylor proposed and received a $10,000 grant to fund construction of a timber frame bike shelter, promoting carbon-neutral transportation around campus and the wider Poultney community. The shelter provides a central location to keep bicycles protected from rain and snow. Students in the College’s Renewable Energy and Ecological Design program erected the shelter, gaining hands-on experience building a post and beam structure. All materials for the shelter were locally sourced, including slate for the roof.
Stop the Hate: How to Reduce Bullying in School Systems
Using research showing that the rate of bullying in schools decreases with educational materials and workshops, Dakota created an anti-bullying program at Poultney elementary school. Students learned about prevention strategies and how to identify and address bullying behaviors at the school.
Using Nutrition Education as a Mechanism to Improve Health and Wellness
Kristina randomly distributed a paper survey to GMC students to evaluate body-mass index, diet, physical activity and perceptions of health. By establishing a baseline of data for GMC student health, the College can track health changes in the student community over time, and develop appropriate strategies to embrace healthy living.
Racism: A Pervasive Social Construction with a Tenacious Hold on Contemporary US Society
Titania A. Green
The 2008 election of the first African-American president resulted in the assertion that the U.S is now a post-racial society. Though this phrase has become prevalent in American media, Titania’s critical examination of modern society demonstrates otherwise. She developed an upper-level undergraduate course titled “Race in Contemporary U.S. Society” to introduce race theory, explore the unconscious habits of racial privilege, and investigate examples of racism in contemporary U.S. society.
Campaign to Ban the Sale of Bottled Water on Campus
Andrea’s research uncovered important environmental and economic impacts of bottled water: not only is it more expensive for students than owning a reusable water bottle, it also results in plastic waste and supports a culture of water being treated like a commodity. Andrea developed a project to ban the sale of bottled water on the Poultney campus. To raise awareness she held a blind taste-testing event in Withey, where students, staff, and faculty were asked to describe the difference between bottled water and tap water and indicate which one they prefer. (Most of the time, subjects could not tell the difference). Working with fellow students and the College administration, Andrea’s leadership resulted in a bottled water ban which went into effect in August, 2014.
Killington Shuttle Project
Kasia Wright and Conor Hayes
This project aimed to establish a shuttle connecting the main campus in Poultney and The Lodge in Killington, the residence hall for students in the GMC Resort & Hospitality Management program. This project makes transportation easier for students without vehicles, saves money and reduces the College’s carbon footprint.
Pottery for Hunger Project
For this project, Marissa made and sold pottery to raise money for the Poultney Food Shelf. She raised $200, which translated into 600 meals for hungry families over the holiday season.
Sustainable Signage Project
Timothy Daniels and Korey Kubricki
Timothy and Korey tackled the task of making effective signage encouraging sustainable behavior at the Killington Lodge, home for students in GMC’s Resort & Hospitality Management program. The students believed there was an inadequate system to help students be aware of their energy usage, recycling habits, and other sustainability practices. Their signage campaign bridges the gap between good intentions and sustainable actions.
Center of the Plate Initiative
Cynthia Cordova, Ben Stein, Michael Sharry
A collaborative effort between three students resulted in placing local foods at the center of the “plate” in GMC’s dining hall. Ben created an infrastructure for the “diet dashboard” that tracks food miles, food sourcing, and nutritional facts about the food served in the dining hall. Michael carried out bi-weekly workshops with students about local food and food production. Cynthia hosted The Farmer’s Dinner, connecting local farmers that provide food for Chartwells (GMC’s food service provider) and students. Their project, The Center of the Plate Initiative, is an important connection between Chartwells and the GMC community in support of educational workshops and nutrition awareness.
Ceramics and Its Impact on a Community
Lizzie’s project resulted in a beautiful ceramic tile mural on the cement ramp outside Dunton Hall. The mural used repurposed materials from unused ceramic projects and enhanced the sense of community on campus. Her research focused on the environmental impact of the ceramics industry and the effect of art on communities.
The Future Generations Voice
Kaitlyn Grant and Sarah Krenicki
Grant and Krenicki worked with the DREAM program and the fourth grade students at Poultney Elementary school for an Earth Day project. The students wrote stories on their views of their Poultney community and stories on the environment. Kaitlyn and Sarah displayed the stories and the drawings at the Earth day Fair at Poultney High School in April.
Art in the Community
Marijo Bineault and Kaitlin Rogers
The purpose of this project was to bring art into the community in Poultney. Marijo and Kaitlin teamed up with a local high school student and two GMC students to create a mural on the outer wall of the Stone Valley Market on Main Street. The mural was completed in 2013.
Slate Patio and Fire Pit
The College’s natural area and riparian zones are vital to the Poultney River and watershed ecology. Unfortunately, unsustainable fire practices and littering are damaging these valuable areas. To curb inappropriate use of the river, Melody developed a plan for a slate patio and fire pit outside of the river buffer zone. The plan incorporated ecological design techniques and allowed for large fires, campfire cooking, seating, and trash disposal.
Helping Native Pollinators with Mason Beehives
Antonina DiNatale and Whitney Rose
Agriculture relies on pollinators and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has been wiping out many honeybee colonies. This project was aimed at providing native pollinators (mason bees) with a suitable healthy living environment. Antonina and Whitney designed and built mason beehives and installed them on the farm.
Accessible Garden and Curriculum Design
The goal of this project was to design an accessible garden space and accompanying curriculum for the students at the South Shore Educational Collaborative (SSEC) in Hingham, Massachusetts. Angela wrote an annual production plan and drew up a garden design that accounts for accessibility concerns while maximizing the potential area of the garden.
Promoting a Queer-Friendly Campus
Inspired by Green Mountain College’s review on the Campus Pride Index, this project had three focal points: to add “gender identity and expression” to the school’s non-discrimination policy, both in official documents and on the website; develop and institute a one-step record-change process for transgender students with and without legal record changes; and to revise the school’s review on the Campus Pride Index.
Local on the Menu: Expanding The Coffee House’s Menu to Include Local Food
Jennifer McKanna and Lily Bradburn
The purpose of this project was to expand The Coffee House’s menu to include local food. Jennifer and Lily worked with The Coffee House staff and the GMC dining staff to find local food companies and businesses to buy from. The group also added or modified menu items so that options reflected the food values of the Green Mountain College campus.
Raw Milk Dairy Day in Vermont
Johanna organized a Raw Milk Dairy Day in Vermont on Saturday, October 27, 2012, and successfully recruited ten farms to participate. Each farmer provided a tour, answered questions, invited visitors to interact with the animals, and encouraged visitors to watch a milking session. Visitors learned about producing raw milk while connecting with their local farmers.
Teaching the Voting Process to Sixth Grade Students
Luisa Romano, Leslie Clarke, and Tracy Hewitt
The focus of the project was to teach the electoral process to students at Poultney Elementary School in the context of the 2012 presidential election. The goal was to inspire the students to be active and informed citizens. The project consisted of researching and teaching several lessons to sixth graders leading up to the election.
Learning Disability and Accommodations: Increasing Text-to-Speech Accessibility at Green Mountain College
At Green Mountain College, the Calhoun Learning Center provides accommodations to students with learning disabilities. Some students use assistive technology that reads books and documents out loud. These technologies can translate PDFs from text to speech only if the documents are in a specific format. Many of the documents that are being uploaded into moodle are not text-to-speech compatible. Hughes rescanned and formatted the PDFs in the Images of Nature master folder, knowing that many students would be required to read them. Brenton Dupee, GMC’s educational technology specialist, helped Oscar make the scans high quality.
Social Media Unplug Challenge and Workshop
Ryan Laymon, Taylor Conley, Tyler Lawson
The group’s mission was to encourage people to be more aware of positive and negative effects of plugged socializing (any non-face-to-face communication, i.e.: texting, email, and social networking sites). They asked students to take the challenge of turning off their phones, avoid social networking sites, and refraining from emailing for a day. At the end of the day, the student researchers held a workshop to explore the advantages and drawbacks of digital vs. face-to face-conversation.
Sustainable Music for Sustainable Students (And the Environment)
Eighteen recordings of GMC student music were compiled into an album and made available online to download as an MP3—people who choose to download the album were encouraged to donate money to the music department. The album can be found here. Research consisted of how community music can benefit individuals and communities as a whole, and how the internet has influenced and revolutionized the way the world accesses, distributes, shares, and creates music.
Reducing Waste in the RHM Lodge
Yannick Gomes, Tony Mercadante and Emma Ryon
For this project, the group aimed to reduce the amount of material waste in the RHM lodge (Resort & Hospitality Management Lodge at Green Mountain College). Through their research, the students identified three major areas that could be adjusted to produce less waste. Yannick researched commercial composting for his project. Tony researched the effects and feasibility of recycling at large scale resorts. Emma researched the effect of BPA on humans and the irreversible damage of plastic waste.