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Students Lead Earth Day Workshops

April 28, 2022 — Students marked Earth Day on Friday, April 22, by leading workshops on creating change through activism and outreach to lawmakers and on understanding their carbon footprint, species extinction, and biodiversity loss. They also spent time doing creative writing; learning about the local ecosystem, the campus farm, and the school’s water treatment and power plants; and cleaning up trash near the Millers River.

The activities were part of a broader Climate Action Week, organized by NMH Ecoleaders and the Climate Justice Coalition (CJC), students who coordinate sustainability projects on campus. 

Ecoleader Sasha Kracauer ’23, who proposed the program and worked with CJC members Kitty Zhang ’24, Wilson Cheung ’24, and Rowan Kehrer ’22, along with other students, faculty, and administrators, to make it a reality. Through connections she made at a Youth Climate Leadership Summit in the fall, Kracauer brought in representatives from Youth Climate Action Now, a local group, and the global movement Extinction Rebellion to speak at one of the workshops. 

“As youth, we need to use our voice and become heard,” Kracauer said. “Youth can be a powerhouse when we come together. To be honest, this is something I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Skylar McAlpin, faculty advisor to the Ecoleaders and the CJC, said, “Having students take the lead really increased participation and interest. We’ve set the foundation for future years to build upon.”

In a Gilder Center classroom, Lydia Hong ’23 introduced her peers to phonebanking to voters and writing letters to elected representatives in government to draw attention to issues that are important to them. Hong has participated in letter-writing campaigns on police reform and other social issues. 

“I hope that my peers understand the ways they can take real action, and that activism is actually a real attainable thing that people can do,” she said.

Just downstairs, over the whir of a kitchen blender, Gabi Harkless ’22 and Tilly Pethrick ’23 showed students how to reuse paper by mixing up small pieces and water into a paste-like substance, which students then formed into “upcycled” paper or artistic creations.

Next door in the Rhodes Arts Center, students sat in a circle with notebooks and pens as Chelsea Devlin ’23 instructed them on how to write an “A, B, C” poem about nature by starting each line with a letter of the alphabet. “You can write about your senses, what you feel, or you can write about the things you see,” she said. 

Just down the hill, on the NMH Farm, goats, horses, and oxen nibbled in the fields while Jake Morrow, the farm program director, talked about the grass’s importance to the food students eat in the dining hall every day. “The New England landscape wants to grow perennials. This grass is perennial,” Morrow said. “We can grow annuals — like the vegetables in the dining hall — by harnessing the fertility of the grass the animals eat. We then compost the manure and spread the compost on our fields and in the hoophouse.”  

Throughout the week, students hosted two screenings of “Youth V Gov,” a documentary about the landmark case by 21 youth against the U.S. government for violating their constitutional rights through its willful actions in creating the climate crisis they will inherit. And in the library, students created a display of books featuring environmental activism and crucial information on the climate crisis, including “No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference,” by Greta Thunberg. 

See photos of Earth Day and Climate Action Week.