Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 76.45
Liaison Ryan Ihrke
Submission Date Oct. 17, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Green Mountain College
EN-9: Community Partnerships

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 3.00 Aaron Witham
Director of Sustainability
Sustainability Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have at least one formal sustainability partnership with the local community that meets the criteria as “supportive”?:

A brief description of the institution’s supportive sustainability partnership(s) with the local community:

Green Mountain College has several formal sustainability partnerships with the local community that meet the criteria of “supportive”. Students, faculty, and staff at GMC closely support some local area events, programs, and organizations including Poultney Food Shelf, Young-at-Heart Senior Center, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, the local school district, the Wonderfeet Children’s Museum, the Flora Advisory Group for Vermont, the Rutland Farm and Food Center Market, the Rutland County Women’s Network and Shelter, the Home Ownership Center, Neighborhood Works, Positive Energy, and HSUS (The Humane Society of the United States). GMC demonstrates its support for these partnerships through the provision of volunteer services, research, and exchange of ideas.

GMC supports the local food shelf through annual student-driven fundraisers, food can drives at the end of each semester, and provision of fresh organic produce from the campus farm during the summer time.

Every fall and spring semesters, the community outreach office at GMC assists with the recruitment of student volunteers to help serve lunch meals every week to the local senior residents at Young-at-Heart Senior Center. In the fall ‘13 and spring ‘14, three to four students, together, contributed approximately 90 hours of service to the Senior Center.

Faculty and their classes often partner with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. For example, in 2013 and 2014 Associate Professor Teresa Coker partnered with the Department to offer environmental education programming through her classes. Other classes have done field work for the Department. Many students have interned there as well.

Professor Coker also recently partnered with the Wonderfeet Children's Museum in Rutland to offer outreach programs for Rutland schools.

Several faculty and classes have partnered with the Poultney Elementary and Poultney High Schools on a range of projects and programs.

Professor Jim Graves serves as the vice chair of the Flora Advisory Group for Vermont, which meets three times a year to assess rare and endangered plant species.

Each year, students in Kathy Doyle’s Forest Ecology Masters course reach out to a person involved in the management of a local forest in their region. As such, each student has a partnership with a local organization to complete their course project. These organizations have included the Green Mountain National Forest, Agency of Natural Resources, and Hubbard Brook Research Foundation.

Adjunct Professor, Susanne Claxton, often works with the Rutland County Women's Network and Shelter.

Adjunct Professor Ken Welch facilitates partnerships between GMC students and the Home Ownership Center, as well as Neighborhood Works.

Professor Sam Edwards has partnered with HSUS through two of his classes to train the public in animal lobbying and humane investigation.

Does the institution have at least one formal sustainability partnership with the local community that meets the criteria as “collaborative”?:

A brief description of the institution's collaborative sustainability partnership(s):

GMC has many collaborative partnerships with groups such as Poultney Historical Society, Poultney Earth Fair, Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, Poultney Elementary School, Poultney High School, Stone Valley Arts, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Rutland Regional Planning Commission, Poultney Mettowee Conservation District, Poultney Community Breakfast Program, and RAFFL's Glean Team.

In relation to the Poultney Historical Society, GMC believes that to the extent students get involved and acquainted with local and regional history, they will be able to understand, think creatively, and attempt to resolve the challenges that exist within their local community. The hope is that later they can be able to tackle global issues using the skills they learned locally. GMC collaborates with the Poultney Historical Society in many ways. Staff assist in the planning and organizing of the annual history day, East Poultney Day, which takes place every August. The purpose of this event is to highlight the town’s local history and its local economy. Staff assist in the coordination and preparation of the “Poultney Historical Society Lecture Series”. The goal of these programs is to provide Poultney residents, GMC faculty, staff, and students with the opportunity to attend history education and recreation programs, locally. Individual student research projects also aid the Historical Society, such as the published paper on “Pre-Historic Poultney (8,500 BC- 1761 AD)” by Jacob Musial ’10. Students also engage in internship programs and community service opportunities with the Society.

For the Annual Poultney Earth Fair, which happens every spring at the local high school, many GMC students and several faculty and staff support the initiative through labor and materials. They host several demonstration booths or exhibits and help organize the event. The Earth Fair attracts hundreds of people from the local area and is organized with the purpose of promoting environmental awareness and education, with particular focus on children. This past April 24th (2014), when the Fair was celebrated, approximately 600 people attended the event. There were over sixty activities and demos, live music, and free food. 25% of the Fair was supported directly by GMC.

Assistant Professor Sarah Mittlefehldt had a collaborative partnership with the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest during the development of the Poultney Woodshed Project, a project designed to help the College source its woodchips locally while helping the local economy.

Assistant Professor Jessica Cuni led her class in a service learning project that collaborated with Stone Valley Arts, a nascent community arts non-profit in Poultney.

Assistant Professor Chris Brooks, Assistant Professor Jacob Park, Associate Professor Jacob Park, and Associate Professor John Van Hoesen worked on a project on climate change and flood resiliency with the VT Agency of Natural Resources and the Rutland Regional Planning Commission in the spring of 2014. The block course contained four classes attended by a core group of students who engaged in deep service learning through multiple disciplines: environmental law, business, climate change, and communications.

The College is in a long-term collaboration with the Poultney Mettowee Conservation District, which runs a Native Plant Nusery on Campus. Associate Professor Natalie Coe and others have collaborated with the nursery, which provides native plants for habitat in need of restoration.

Students in John Van Hoesen’s GIS classes engage in many collaborative projects for a variety of local community partners. In 2013, the new GIS lab in Richardson opened its doors as a spatial resource center, providing collaborative consultation services for local businesses, government organizations, and individuals who have a spatial problem that needs to be solved.

Many professors, such as Rommey Fuller, Teresa Coker, and Sarah Mittlefehldt have collaborative partnerships with the local elementary and high schools. For example, they built a community garden.

Assistant Professor Eleanor Tison has had many collaborative relationships with community organizations. As an example, her classes work with the Poultney Community Breakfast Program and RAFFL's Glean Team to build relationships for students by involving them in transformative change in the Poultney community, while assisting people who are food insecure or nutritionally challenged.

Does the institution have at least one formal sustainability partnership with the local community that meets the criteria as “transformative”?:

A brief description of the institution's transformative sustainability partnership(s) with the local community:

In the fall of 2012, GMC partnered with the Town Of Poultney and its Downtown Revitalization Committee on a revitalization effort called Poultney 2020.

Poultney 2020 was a student born initiative that outgrew its origins to later become a transformative, town-wide sustainability partnership effort. Multiple stakeholder groups from the local region and community came together to plan for a community conference held on April 24th, 2013. With over 200 attendees throughout the day, everyone had the chance to vote on major projects that would help advance and support Poultney’s vitality, including economic prosperity, social equity and wellbeing, and ecological health. The projects that received the most votes included: (1) a community center for the arts, (2) a main street park, (3) the promotion and development of the local food system, and (4) the design of a recreational natural trails system.

During the April 24th conference, four different teams were formed to tackle each of the projects and these teams have continued to meet and plan since then, both separately and as a whole group. Today, there is a Stone Valley Arts Center located in an historic building downtown because of the effort. It is run by a non-profit organization under the same name. For the main street park, the community has voted on the location of where they wish to see the park and now the group is focusing attention on raising funds to purchase the property. They have already made extensive designs for how the park will look. The localvore movement has also taken off with more restaurants adding more local foods onto their menus and most recently with the inception of a new farm-to-table, student run restaurant by LiHigh School. Finally, the trails group has made significant advances in identifying already existing natural trails and cleaning them up. Next steps moving forward including mapping, signage, and promotion.

To ensure that these projects are ongoing and eventually achieve success, GMC is providing support in terms of logistics, mentorship, research, and financial capital. A faculty member and the outreach coordinator for sustainable community development have taken the lead and dedicated significant time in helping the groups keep momentum by working closely with Town leaders to decide on priorities, coordinate meetings, and find sufficient labor and funding. GMC believes Poultney 2020 is a forward thinking initiative that has involved several classes and internships, and will involve several more, in a way that is transformative to students, staff, faculty, and community members.

A brief description of the institution’s sustainability partnerships with distant (i.e. non-local) communities:

Partnerships with distant communities have taken many forms. For example, Assistant Professor Robin Currey partners with small-holder farming operations oversees to aid community development and help farmers secure microfinancing.

On a broader institutional level, GMC is a member of the Eco-League. The Eco League connects Green Mountain College with a consortium of five environmentally themed colleges that are at the forefront of today's dialog about our natural and social communities. Stretching from Anchorage, Alaska, to Bar Harbor, Maine, Eco League colleges represent five distinct bio-regions across the U.S. Student and faculty exchanges enable sustainability skills and knowledge learned in one bio-region to be tested and shared in other bio-regions. Students can spend up to two nonconsecutive semesters of study at any of the five member colleges, or in any of the international exchange programs offered by an Eco League college without transferring schools. The program is set up to allow seamless exchange of students, with students continuing to pay tuition to their home college. The League also serves as a useful venue for more intimate collaborations. For example, Assistant Professor Eleanor Tison is working with Prescott and COA, through the Farm and Food Program, to potentially create a joint course or certificate program in sustainable food systems.

The website URL where information about sustainability partnerships is available:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.