Overall Rating Expired
Overall Score Expired
Liaison Jennifer deHart
Submission Date Oct. 30, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Unity College
EN-9: Community Partnerships

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Expired Steve Kahl
Director of Sustainability
Sustainability
"---" 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”?:
Yes

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

1) Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association. The college provides both interns and work-study students to assist in the operations of the largest organic farmers association in the northeastern US (MOFGA.org). Unity College staff and students are involved annually in the MOFGA’s Common Ground Fair, which attracts an estimated 70,000 people to the fair emphasizing sustainable living.
2) Regional Land Trusts. Consistent with our logo ‘America’s Environmental College’ we engage with regional land trusts (such as the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust located in Unity) doing collaborative projects such as GIS mapping, trails work, or joint participation in grants.
3) Organized by our Community Partnerships Office, students in our wildlife programs regularly work with the Franklin Park Zoo in Massachusetts on a variety of animal care projects.
4) Each semester, faculty and students in the Sustainable Energy Management Program conducts detailed car checks for student vehicles to look for safety issues and to improve gas mileage (http://ucsustainability.blogspot.com/search?q=safety+report

+ Date Revised: Dec. 18, 2014

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

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

1) Regional Land Trusts. Consistent with our logo ‘America’s Environmental College’ we engage with regional land trusts (such as the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust located in Unity) doing collaborative projects such as GIS mapping, trails work, or joint participation in grants.
2) Maine Farmland Trust. Unity College is centrally located in the ‘local foods’ region of Maine. Our Sustainable Agriculture program contributes to Maine being the only state in the nation where the average age of farmers is getting younger. We partner with MFT on grant proposals and outreach efforts, now facilitated by Half Moon Gardens, a greenhouse and fields acquired by the college in 2013.
3) Unity Collaborates with the town of Unity on economic development, with staff serving on several town/local committees. For example, the town issues bonds for construction on campus to reduce our interest rate, and the town recently provided some seed money for the college to investigate partners for possible construction of a ‘green’ hotel.
4) Waldo County Trails Coalition. The college is a core member of the staffing and management of the WCTC. A faculty member is vice-chair of the WCTC, students provide the main source of labor to maintain trails, and a substantial portion of the current trail network runs through campus.
5) Unity Barn Raisers. Unity staff and students regularly volunteer for UBR service projects and community meals, and serve on the UBR board of directors.
6) Maine State Aquarium. Unity students train with the MSA and then engage as outreach volunteers in support of the MSA.
7) Maine Department of Inland Fish and Wildlife. Unity faculty and students are closely involved with Maine IFW through the Unity Search and Rescue team (Unity has a fully-equipped search and rescue trailer). The search and rescue team also organizes Operation Game Thief, a hotline to report poaching. This program also organizes fund-raisers and recently was able to purchase an all-terrain wheelchair to

+ Date Revised: Dec. 18, 2014

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

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

1) Empty Bowls Project. Now in its 18th year, the Unity College Empty Bowls project brings together area farmers, potters, students and community volunteers to host an evening fundraiser in support of area hunger relief programs. A simple meal of home- made soup and bread is served in clay bowls hand-crafted by Unity students and professional potters within the region. Good food, great company and artistic flare are the featured attractions that keep folks coming year after year. Diners keep their one-of-a-kind “empty bowl” as a reminder of ongoing food insecurity that many experience on a daily basis. Our most recent event raised over $1900 in support of the Veggies for All project and the Volunteer Regional Food Pantry, two local hunger relief projects that work collaboratively to serve households in the greater Unity area.
2) Veggies for All. Veggies For All was started in 2007 in field located at Unity College. It is part of the local food movement in central Maine in which Unity College has been a central player. The project still grows food on the campus, now involving Unity College, Maine Farmland Trust. Unity Barn Raisers, and the Volunteer Regional Food Pantry. Since 2010, VFA has grown, harvested, and distributed 75,000 pounds of vegetables to 1,500 of our most food insecure neighbors. We primarily storage varieties such as cabbage, potatoes, winter squash, onions, and carrots. The transformative nature of this program is in providing food for the less fortunate members in this disturbingly poor region, including food for the local food pantry.
3) Town of Unity weatherization pilot. Unity College received a grant from the state 2 years ago to pilot a local program in town home for weatherization and energy efficiency, including running a workshop each fall where residents can make interior storm window inserts. The program became ‘The Sustain Mid-Maine Coalition’, a municipal program with services expanded from the pilot (http://www.waterville-me.gov/departments/smmc) that provides internships for college students. The window inserts workshop is now an annual event hosted by the college, and the college is moving forward with the town of Unity to evaluate the potential of solar photovoltaics as an economic development tool to protect and expand the commercial base of the region.
4) Humane Society: students in the wildlife programs regularly work with local Humane Societies to train problem dogs so that they can be placed in homes. According to the societies, the incidence of dogs having to be put down has dropped dramatically since Unity College has been involved.
5) The Unity College Bear Study began in spring 2012 as an innovative program to attract more students to the college, and more specifically to the wildlife programs. The Wildlife Club hosted a meeting for students interested in finding out more about the bear study; over 71 students came to the meeting! Eventually 17 student teams were established and 68 students and several faculty and staff members signed up to join at least one of the teams – with faculty and students volunteering 3600 hours to help launch the study. Essentially, the whole Unity College community including administration, Trustees, faculty, staff, and students willingly contributed to the study in numerous ways. Permission was obtained from 68 landowners to access approximately 11,000 acres of land; establishing 102 different bait sites; setting traps at 37 of those sites. The transformative nature of this study is that it is the first in Maine to track bears outside of the northern industrial forest region of Maine. The habits of bears in the human-populated areas were known only anecdotally.
6) We have a partnership with the Maine Lakes Society and the local lake association to bring the transformative project LakeSmart to three area towns that began in the spring of 2014. Staff, students, and local citizens and the lake association are involved, and the town’s draft comprehensive plan calls out the importance of protecting water quality. This program evolves changing social norms for living on the lake shore using a voluntary assessment program for homeowners. The goal is to get 15% of the owners in the program, after which social marketing theory suggests that the program will become self-sustaining and neighbors will want to join. Protecting water quality is good for recreation, for property values, for real estate businesses, and for the town’s tax base. The regulatory approach to protecting lake water quality has failed nationally, and we believe that changing people’s attitudes about how they interact with their lake will transform both the regularly process and protection of aquatic resources.

+ Date Revised: Dec. 18, 2014

A brief description of the institution’s sustainability partnerships with distant (i.e. non-local) communities:
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The website URL where information about sustainability partnerships is available:

Unity College emphasizes collaborative community engagement as a life strategy for students. A number of partnerships both serve the interests of students and provide for the greater good of society.

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