There is always so much going on this time of year. Our current students are preparing for finals (and maybe their final finals, if they’re graduating). Others are defending theses. Some might be gearing up for a summer in the mountains (like me) or for a summer interning, hiking the AT, summer schooling, or working.
The other thing that happens this time of year are the celebrations. In the Environmental Program, we do an amazing job of celebrating our successes and our students. Last week, I got to have dinner with several students who’ve received scholarships and the wonderful individuals who have contributed funds for those scholarships. I was lucky enough to share a table with the generous and warm Forciers, Gail Fendley, and Diane Gardner Quinn, as well as some of our very best and brightest ENVS students.
Last night, I had dinner with many current and former recipients of the Ian Worley Award, as well as Ian Worley and Gary Simpson. We talked about everything under the sun, from the Monterrey Bay Aquarium to what life was like at UVM in 1970. It was a special night, for sure. I got to see Ian teach and inspire students in ways that only he can. At the same time, the students were equally inspiring, whether they were talking about sustainable agriculture in Honduras, water quality, sunsets and human well-being, or the Rio Olympics.
Both of these celebrations highlighted for me one of the most amazing things about our Environmental Program – our sense of community and connections, across disciplines, across colleges or schools, and across generations. I’ve been here for only a few months, but I know that I’ve made friendships that will last forever, and I’ve met students who I know are going to move mountains. I’ve met alumni who have already moved mountains.
Developing and maintaining connections are easy when a program or group is small. But we’re big, and growing! We have more than 400 majors on campus right now, and it looks like there’ll be about 100 first-year ENVS students arriving to UVM this fall (which is the largest incoming cohort in at least several years). Plus, there are more than 3000 ENVS alumni scattered around the planet.
How can we do a better job of facilitating community among the 100 incoming students? What about the 3000+ alumni, our current students, and the faculty and staff in ENVS? We talked about it last night over dinner and came up with several possibilities that we’ll be pursuing this summer and fall, so stay tuned. But I’d love to hear any ideas that you all might have, whether you’re a first-year student or someone who was last at UVM in 1972. Just shoot me an email, stop me in town, or swing by the Bittersweet for a chat.
In the meantime, enjoy the end of the semester and the beginning of spring/summer.
Happy Friday –