Sustainability Fair Shows Students Ways to Invest Time in the Environment
(Photo taken from Skidmore.edu)
The inaugural Saratoga Sustainability Fair took place on Apr. 6, and done in partnership between Skidmore and Sustainable Saratoga, which is dedicated to promoting sustainability in the Saratoga Springs area. The event included a keynote address, booth exhibitors, a sustainability tour of Skidmore, an electric vehicle car show and a variety of workshop presentations. The fair ran from 10am to 4pm and catered to the broader Saratoga community as well as Skidmore students.
One notable workshop, led by Chair of the Urban Forestry Project and former Skidmore Environmental Studies professor Tom Denny, focused on Sustainable Saratoga's Urban Forestry Project. His presentation highlighted the many ways planting trees can contribute to city life, including increasing property value, decreasing water pollution, enhancing people’s quality of life and supporting local wildlife. Denny discussed the presence of trees as a historical part of Saratoga’s landscape, how older trees are often not replaced when they come down due to their proximity to infrastructure and many other difficulties of planting trees in an urban landscape. He encouraged all workshop attendees, particularly Skidmore students, to volunteer at Sustainable Saratoga’s “TreeToga” event on Apr. 27, in which volunteers plant trees at approved sites around Saratoga.
In addition to the Urban Forestry Project, over thirty organizations doing environmental and sustainability-related work from Saratoga and the broader Capital Region were represented at the fair. Some of these organizations may have been quite well-known to the Saratoga Community, like 9 Miles East, an organization that brings farm-fresh foods to the Saratoga community and which Skidmore students know for their delicious salads and pizza made from farm-fresh produce.
Other organization weren’t as familiar, like GreenFaith — a national organization dedicated to creating dialogue around, and spaces for, environmental action among people of different religious faiths. GreenFaith is one of the only organizations of its kind and has helped involve people of faith in climate activism, including organizing an interfaith group to march in the historic 2014 People’s Climate March in New York City. Ken Scott, a representative of GreenFaith, encouraged Skidmore students of all faiths to attend their upcoming 21st Century Climate Justice Summit at the College of Saint Rose on Apr. 25 at 7 pm.
Activism and volunteerism were common themes at the Sustainability Fair. Representatives from the Saratoga Stormwater Management Program expressed that they’re always looking for volunteers to help sample and test stormwater for pollutants and to clean up areas in and around local bodies of water. Saratoga PLAN, an organization dedicated to maintaining Saratoga County’s farmland, nature and historic places, emphasized that they would love if Skidmore students volunteered or even interned with them, especially those with GIS mapping skills. BikeToga encouraged Skidmore students to simply bike around Saratoga more, as well as to participate in “Bike Your Park Day” by biking to and around Spa State Park on Sat., Sept. 28.
Not every organization represented was explicitly environmental in nature – many organizations simply showed initiatives related to the environment or sustainability. Saratoga Unites encouraged Saratoga residents to write letters to their representatives in Congress about environmental policy, and the Saratoga Springs Public Library showcased community outreach programs focused on environmental education.
The diversity in the organizations represented made the first Saratoga Sustainability Fair a great success, reminding students that when it comes to sustainability and environmental justice, the main thing students can contribute is their time. The opportunities presented at the Sustainability Fair may even provide students with an appealing alternative to purely on-campus involvement, enabling them to bring their passions and skills out into the world.