Green Mountain College has sustainability leadership at various levels, from the goals of the College’s strategic plan Sustainability 2020 to the implementers, including the Sustainability Office, Campus Sustainability Council, faculty, and classes.
Ryan J. Ihrke
Director of Sustainability
Terrace 125, 802-287-8277
A Minnesota native, Ryan has called GMC and Vermont home for the past six years. Holding a BA in fine arts from Luther College and an M.S. in experiential education from Minnesota State University, Ryan brings a wealth of higher education experience from his time as GMC’s director of student involvement from 2010-2015 and as assistant director of campus programs at Minnesota State.
Prior to working at the University of Minnesota, Ryan was the farmers’ market manager for the Mankato Area Growers Association and assistant manager for the Emergency Community Help Organization. He also worked as an environmental educator at the Center for Earth Spirituality and Rural Ministry and has published several articles on sustainability and higher education. Ryan lives in Poultney with his wife Monica and their son.
Bianca Amira Zanella
Sustainable Community Development Outreach Coordinator
Terrace 125, 802-287-8197
As a recent graduate of Green Mountain College, Bianca holds a B.A. in English education and a B.F.A. in Creative Writing. In her final year of study at GMC, she explored how poetry can affect social change, working on movement-making through storytelling with the AMP Experience and on program outreach with Stone Valley Arts, Poultney’s local arts non-profit.
Bianca spent some of every summer of her undergraduate career living in beautiful Poultney: first assisting Griswold Library, then interning with Green Mountain Power’s Energy Innovation Center (moo for Cow Power!), and finally teaching the craft of writing at Vermont Summer Academy. Through her time here, she has gotten to know the community, and hopes to further her connections. Her volunteer leadership experience includes serving as a Merchandise Manager for the National Poetry Slam and as Network Manager for National Model United Nations.
As the Community Service and Outreach Coordinator, building sustainable community partnerships is Bianca’s primary goal. By working closely with students, staff, faculty, and with local citizens, businesses, and organizations in Poultney, she plans to better town/gown relations. Some of the projects she is actively engaged in improving include Thanks N’ Giving Day, the Poultney 2020 revitalization effort, and communication development for many other volunteering and service learning projects.
When she’s not writing, organizing, or organizing her writing, she can be found hula-hooping, cooking the Italian way, and giving away free hugs. If you’re ever in need of a hug, or want to learn how you can volunteer, feel free to stop by Terrace 125.
Sustainability Office Manager
Terrace 125, 802-287-8254
Born and raised in Downeast Maine, Nicole has been referred to as a tree hugger most of her life. As a renewable energy and ecological design major with a concentration in sustainable agriculture, as well as a self-design major in sustainable community development and educational outreach, Nicole hopes to combine the skills she learns at GMC to improve food and water access, develop inexpensive green energy for developing countries and the rest of the world, and educate today’s youth about the issues that matter most.
As Sustainability Office Manager, she manages the recycling crew, coordinates student outreach, and assists students with sustainability related projects. As well as working in the sustainability office, Nicole is the president of the Sustainable Living Floor and the public relations officer for the Student Campus Greening Fund (SCGF). She is interested in the design of social structures in both developed and undeveloped countries and how they can be redesigned to run more sustainably.
In her spare time Nicole loves to cook, contra dance, plant seeds, and sing songs.
Events & Communications Specialist
Cheyanne Stone was born and raised in Meriden, Connecticut. Throughout her life she always showed great interest in the environment and nature. In high school she was the president of the ecology club and recycling team. At GMC she is studying Natural Resources Management and minoring in Animal Studies. Cheyanne is persuing goals to improve forestry, plant and animal conservation while on campus and plans to continue doing so in her future.
Born in Bellingham, Washington, Brooke Riley Hallock moved to Vermont at the age of two, and has called the Green Mountain State home ever since. A nature enthusiast, Brooke has always been drawn to animals, traveling and culture, mountains, hiking, and many other activities enjoyed in the natural environment. She currently studies Anthropology, Adventure Education, and Natural Resources Management at Green Mountain College, educating herself with respect to humankind’s connection to the earth, past, present, and future. Brooke aspires to graduate Green Mountain College in 2016 with the intellectual toolkit necessary to work for a non-profit organization, problem solving for social and environmental justice.
As the Reuse Manager, Brooke runs the Freestore and Freepo, as well as the e-waste, Terra-Cycle, and grocery bag recycling programs. The Freestore, located in the student center, offers reclaimed goods such as appliances, clothes, pictures, and books for free to students, staff, and faculty. The material comes from free boxes in the residence halls and the end-of-year Green Move Out. The Freepo, located in Pollock, offers free office supplies.
Waste Diversion Specialist
Chelsea was raised in Augusta, Georgia, and is still adjusting to the New England region. This is her first year on the waste diversion crew. As a double major in sustainable agriculture and psychology, she hopes to use nutrition and therapeutic farm work to aid those with mental illness. When Chelsea is not too busy getting seriously injured, she enjoys hiking, exploring, and reading.
Waste Diversion Specialist
Simon James is an active member of the Green Mountain College student body and a dedicated student. Simon has spent the past two years before attending GMC working on a timber frame and log cabin construction project and teaching environmental education on New Jersey’s official tall-masted ship the A.J. Meerwald. His interest in sustainable agriculture has led to two different summer internships on CSA organic farms. Some of Simon’s favorite hobbies are singing, playing guitar, writing songs, cooking, ultimate Frisbee, disc golf, sailing and woodworking. As a Renewable Energy and Ecological Design major, Simon is happy to be a waste diversion specialist because it is a job that gives back to the community and the earth.
Student Sustainability Opportunities
Green Mountain College students have many opportunities to get involved in green initiatives on campus. Working for the Sustainability Office offers an opportunity to gain practical experience for those interested in the sustainability profession. Currently students are working in Green Job Corps positions managing events, communications, the Freestore, the Freepo, recycling and composting. Students also assist with STARS (Sustainability Tracking and Rating System) research and documention, website development and student management. Interested students should visit the Sustainability Office in Terrace 125.
Project Resource Center
Many GMC students take advantage of campus support systems that enhance experiential learning about sustainability. The Sustainability Office keeps records of past student projects to create continuity and provide ideas and resources for all students. Project lists include those from Student Campus Greening Fund projects, A Delicate Balance, Service-Learning, and more!
The Green Mountain College Campus Sustainability Council was created in 2006 to address the requirements outlined by the Presidents Climate Commitment, and to serve as a facilitating body to move the campus toward climate neutrality. The CSC meets bi-weekly, reviews policies and makes recommendations for improving campus sustainability.
Ryan J. Ihrke (Chair), Director of Sustainability
Tom Mauhs-Pugh, Provost & Vice-President for Academic Affairs
Prof. Bill Landesman, Environmental Studies
Prof. Steve Letendre, Environmental Studies
Prof. Jacob Park, Business & Economics
Chris Bunker, Manager of Grounds
Bay Hammond, Farm Manager
Processes & Procedures
After completing GMC’s second Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory in 2009, the College’s Climate Action Plan was created by the CSC, approved and filed with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education in September of 2009.
As part of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, signed by GMC in 2007, the College was required to create the plan to achieve carbon neutrality. It includes short, medium and long-term goals achievable by 2011, 2020 and 2050. GMC’s sustainability office, the Campus Sustainability Council and students in ten academic courses developed the plan with input from the campus community. Read a two page summary here.
The release of the Climate Action Plan was followed by the creation of a Sustainability Plan in 2011. This plan outlines more in-depth goals and strategies to improve sustainability on campus beyond emissions alone.
Ongoing Research Projects on Campus
Chemistry Professor Sue Sutheimer is testing innovative ways to bring climate change science into chemistry classes. In 2012, she joined forces with Dr. Daniel King of Drexel to deliver a presentation entitled “Global Climate Change: Integrative Curriculum Development for General Chemistry” at the national AASHE conference in Los Angeles. She is also a leader in bringing other common sustainability topics into chemistry labs. In 2012, she gave two presentations on green chemistry at The Biennial Conference on Chemical Education. One of the presentations focused on how to teach the chemistry of energy, and the other explored how to teach the chemistry of water.
Sutheimer is no stranger to pushing the envelope with pedagogy. In 2011 she teamed up with former GMC sustainability coordinator, Jesse Pyles, to publish a book chapter on “Integrating Sustainability and Service Learning into the Science Curriculum” in T. McDonald’s (Ed.) Social Responsibility and Sustainability: Multidisciplinary Perspectives Through Service Learning.[/vc_column_text]
Prof. Philip Ackerman-Leist published a book in 2012 with Chelsea Green Press entitled Rebuilding the Foodshed: Remapping Our Expectations for the Food We Share. He is constantly re-thinking the way food is produced and distributed in the US through a range of research areas, and he gives frequent public presentations on the issue. For example, in 2014, he gave a talk entitled “What the Devil Do we Eat?” at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.
He also recently oversaw a study of a mobile flash-freeze unit on campus, assessing the market potential for local flash-frozen products. With funding from Jane’s Trust, the College worked in close collaboration with the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL), the Poultney-Mettowee Conservation District, and UVM Extension.
Prof. Steven Letendre (Economics) and Prof. John Van Hoesen (Geology) have teamed up on more than one energy-related research project. Most recently, in 2013, they published an article on “Characterizing the spatiotemporal evolution of building-stock age in Poultney, Vermont: a GIS-based approach to improve thermal efficiency in historical buildings” in the journal Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design.
In 2010, the duo used their combined skills of mapping and economics to research renewable energy resources in Poultney, VT. In their words, “the current electricity infrastructure in the United States relies on a centralized distribution network that carries a heavy carbon footprint and is susceptible to disruption and failure. Rural communities are more susceptible to longer term interruption and should strive towards a local distributed energy model. This transition will require municipalities to engage with and seek input from community stakeholders. This paper describes a possible model for supporting rural community energy projects using a Geographic Information System (GIS), which was used to develop an inventory of energy resource potential in a rural Vermont town for biomass, wind, and solar technologies.”
Steve Letendre has also been actively involved in electric vehicle research for a long time, and he recently took a sabbatical to research the topic in greater detail. He was the lead author on two major reports in 2014, one entitled “Intelligent Vehicle Charging Benefits Assessment Using EV Project Data” through the US Department of Energy and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The other report “Predicting Solar Power Production: Irradiance Forecasting Models, Applications and Future Prospects” was produced through SEPA.
John Van Hoesen has also been active on other research projects, such as one on food access, for which he co-authored an article entitled “A GIS-based methodology toward refining the concept of rural food deserts: a case study from Rutland County, Vermont” in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development in 2013. Both of them also present regularly at national conferences in their fields.
Prof. Kenneth Mulder has a rich history of sustainability research on campus in the area of sustainable agriculture and the embodied impact of College purchases. Now he is applying his experience in the field to boost math literacy among GMC students in his new role as Director of Quantitative Literacy.
Since 2013, he has been engaged in a multiple-year study to estimate the range of environmental impacts of all the purchases the College makes on an annual basis. The baseline assessment was completed in one of his quantitative environmental analysis classes in 2013. Meanwhile, he is working with research assistants to refine the model and plans to do periodic inventories of purchases as part of GMC’s strategic plan to achieve authentic sustainability by 2020.
He has also overseen two research initiatives concerning low energy agriculture that acquired a $93,000 grant from the Yavanna Foundation. These projects on the GMC farm include the high-tunnel greenhouse program, which is examining the viability of solar thermal root-zone heating technologies for farmers in the Northeast, and the College’s Long-Term Ecological Assessment of Low Energy Farm Systems (LEAFS) research initiative.
LEAFS compares and contrasts three different low-energy vegetable production systems: a “conventional” organic system powered by an 11HP walking tractor; a human-powered, fossil-free biointensive system that will not use outside amendments; and a bio-extensive, oxen-powered system fueled by oxen-harvested hay and a management-intensive pasture system. The research may provide powerful new insights into methods that farmers of the future can utilize to achieve sustainable crop yields with little or no fossil fuel inputs. Students have the opportunity to work as research assistants in this innovative field of research.
His focus is the context of China’s emerging ‘circular economy’ policy paradigm and the approaches of ecological modernization theory. The findings suggest that a variety of environmentally conscious opportunities exist for emerging and developing countries. They also provide an important scholarly foundation to develop and refine sustainable supply chain management practices in emerging and developing economies.