Boarding schools across the globe are working to improve the environment not only on their campuses but beyond. The question asked, what foot print are you leaving behind? How do boarding schools help students understand the importance of understanding our environment?
The mission of Pomfret School is to empower students to pursue lives of purpose and meaning, and their vision is to inspire the next generation of change makers and problem solvers. Pomfret encourages students to be stewards of the environment. In the classroom, Pomfret doesn’t just teach about ecology and the environment — they are actively working to solve the complex problems facing today’s generation. In Aquaponics class, students raise fish and grow produce for the dining hall and local food pantries in their student-built solar aquaponic greenhouse. During the summer, before the school year begins, students can get their feet wet in Marine Ecology and Climate Change class taught at Hurricane Island off the coast of Maine. In Global and Sustainable Development class, Pomfret students explore the complex relationships between governments, economies, societies, and the planet’s physical environment. In the spring, they spend two weeks in Costa Rica, surveying its jungles, beaches, and farms. Students may choose to take these courses and more as they pursue a Certificate in sustainability. Similar to a college major, this certificate allows students to explore all the different ways society can meet the needs of today without exhausting the resources of tomorrow. Pomfret’s commitment to the environment is not ending anytime soon. They plan on installing a solar array and reducing the environmental impact of campus operations through behavior change, conservation, and sustainable practices is a key initiative of Pomfret’s recently released Strategic Plan.
At St. Johnsbury Academy, we are committed to sustainability. We have a solar field that was built by our electricity students and a dormitory that uses solar thermal and geothermal technologies. This year, we transitioned to an electric vehicle for our drivers’ education program. The energy savings from these and other initiatives are credited to our Green Revolving Fund which is then used to fund new projects on campus, further reducing the school’s environmental impact. Our fund is now earning over $30,000 per year and in 2016, we won the Vermont Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence. We also offer an immersive environmental studies course called SJA Field Semester, in which students complete interdisciplinary study in natural resource management, ecological research and monitoring, and upper level humanities at our 75-acre field campus in beautiful northeastern Vermont.
For students interested in environmental sustainability, look no further than Millbrook School. Environmental stewardship is one of Millbrook’s five core values and has been an important part of Millbrook’s programs and philosophy since the school’s founding in 1931. Millbrook’s commitment to being stewards of the natural world is evident and distinctive on campus and across every student experience. Millbrook students live sustainable lives while on campus. The campus achieved carbon neutrality on Earth Day 2020, a long-term strategic goal that the school is continuing to improve upon each year through sustainable community practices (98% of dining hall waste is composted on campus!), environmentally conscious building and renovations, an expanding 7-acre solar field, and investment in carbon offsets. Students also live and learn about stewardship through the curriculum and daily extracurricular commitments. Millbrook School is the only high school in the United States with an AZA-accredited zoo on campus! The Trevor Zoo is home to over 180 animals, featuring 80 species from five continents and nine endangered species. Every Millbrook student works at the Trevor Zoo, caring for animals and helping rehabilitate endangered species through the campus-wide community service program. Beyond the Trevor Zoo, Millbrook students will learn about and engage in stewardship of their local community through academic courses, student clubs, working at the campus farm, and various extracurricular activities offered throughout the school year. Every Millbrook student will graduate with first-hand experiences in stewardship and a personal commitment to living sustainable lives long after graduation day.