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Environmental Hackathon

Written By: Devin Perry ’20

On September 30th, the Campuses for Environmental Stewardship held an ‘Environmental Hackathon’ at the University of New England. The purpose of this event was to bring to light the issues the environment faces today. Both the students and the faculty voiced their views on these issues. Additionally, the students had a chance to discuss environmental issues on their campus and come up with a solution to that issue. Once a solution was developed, the students spoke about their plan in an attempt to attain a $500 mini-grant to kick start their project. This grant was the purpose of the ‘Hackathon’ aspect of the event.

I attended the event with three faculty members and a fellow student. Along with being nice individuals, they were all very motivated to learn more about sustainability efforts being made by other campuses and their students. I enjoyed being able to connect with new people about a topic I am very invested in and care a lot about.

My advisor told me about the event and recommended I go to it. I was honored to go, as I am an environmental science major and it would inform me on the issues that I could possibly face down the road. Additionally, I knew I would be able to gain knowledge on how to better face environmental issues, and bring that information back to Castleton.

I learned a lot from going to the ‘Environmental Hackathon’. Before the event, I did not realize the motivation of some people, to make a difference in the environment. The participation of the other students blew me away. Lastly, from trying to think of an environmental issue on Castleton’s campus, I realized Castleton does very well with being environmentally conscious and campuses struggling with environmental issues should look at Castleton as a model. We are not perfect, but we are far ahead many of the other schools represented at the conference.

The event opened my eyes to many things and made me realize making a difference isn’t as difficult as it seems to be. The best way to make a difference is to get the word out. Informing others of your cause will get them on board with you to spread the word as well. I would consider going to other events like it to gain more knowledge on the idea of sustainability and stay up to date on how arising issues are being handled. I would encourage others to go to these events because, as I said, if you want to make a difference, telling others about your plan can set the plan forward with other people supporting you.

The Power of a Candy Wrapper

Written By: Daniel Warnecke 17′

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Parades are always something to look forward to, and the Halloween Parade in Rutland, Vermont certainly excites and lives up to expectations! The floats are elaborately decorated, and there is an enormous amount of candy given out—the perfect parade combination. This amount of excitement brings in huge crowds every year, and every year one BIG aspect of the parade is overlooked: trash build-up. The accumulation of more trash at public events that bring in large crowds is just something that happens—and that’s okay.

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The excitement of a parade makes it that much easier to forget about candy wrappers or plastic bags that plummet to the ground. One has to understand the unfortunate reality that parades bring in a lot of people that have and create a lot of trash, so it’s great to know that Castleton University students stepped up to the plate to do something about the extra trash this year. On the morning following the Rutland Halloween Parade, the streets that once held masses of people the night before were now full of roaming students, equipped with rubber gloves, trash bags, and smiles, of course. The students were simply picking up all of the trash that had been left behind from the night before, and although the trash did not seem to be too prevalent on the streets while driving on them, the 11 large, stuffed bags of trash that were accumulated at the conclusion of the cleanup painted a much different picture.

Simple cleanup events and community service projects may not seem to make too much of a difference up front, but they truly play a huge role in exciting the public, influencing them to make a difference within their communities. Public community service is like a “positive” disease; it serves as a reminder that we all have a duty to do our part—even if “entitlement” leads to thinking differently. I, myself, have been involved with the Castleton University Rotaract Club for four years now, and being a member within the club is emotionally rewarding, constantly reminding me that there is always need within our community and our world, and there always will be. I get to make a difference through community service, free of charge—something that continues to amaze me to this day.

Thank you to the members of the Castleton University Student Government Association, the Rotaract Club, the Castleton Community Service House, and the members of the Rutland Young Professionals group. Your constant service to your local communities does not go unnoticed, and because of your services, others continue to be reminded of their duties in this life. Who would have thought that picking up a few candy wrappers and trampled float decorations would prove to be so important?

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Connecting Castleton to Kenya

Written By: Tegan Waite 18′

t-waite-kenya-2The summer of 2016 was one for the books. I had the opportunity of a lifetime and spent three-and-a-half weeks in Kenya. I spent time at the Rapha Community Center, an orphanage and school, in Nyahururu-which is located in the mid-central highlands of Kenya. My days were spent observing classes, tutoring students, playing with children, learning how to REALLY play “football”, reading to students, learning phrases and words in Kikuyu, learning their cultural songs and dances and embracing every moment. I fell to sleep each night to the sound of whispers, and giggles in the girls dorm, and I woke to the sweet sound of them singing as they prepared for their day.  It changed my life, breathed new energy into my spirit, and gave me purpose. I have never met more positive, happy, spirited people, and the things that these children have lived through, seen, heard, and endured are so much worse than many of us could ever imagine. The way those children changed me, is more than I ever could have ever imagined, and I count the days until I get to see their bright smiley faces, hear their singing, and feel their little hands in mine again.

 

HEAL| Raising Our World, One Child at a Time was founded by a role model and friend Jennifer Musick Wright in 2007, while she was a college student. HEAL stands for Health, Education, Ample Nutrition, and Love. “Rapha” is HEAL in Hebrew. HEAL provides care, basic needs, education, and most importantly love for more than 45 children, and 80 students.

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Here at Castleton I have founded a club that is in partnership with the Rapha Community Center. Last year I hosted a Shoe-give-a-thon to raise money to dig a well for clean water. Many Castleton students got involved and were able to hear Jennifer speak. Fall 2016, after the club was official, we partnered with the HEAL committee in Rutland and hosted the first annual “Kenya Run?” We had 52 runners and raised more than $2,200. Our next project will be the giving-challenge on “Giving Tuesday”. We are committed to raising awareness on campus and in the greater community. We are committed to advocacy and sharing our passion with others. We are able to help give these children the tools they need to be successful. What we do is not a handout, but rather a hand up. Being apart of something that is bigger than yourself changes you in the best way. Being apart of HEAL, being with the children, has changed and impacted me more that those children will ever be changed or impacted by me.

 

You have the opportunity to get involved right here in Castleton! If you are interested and would like more information please feel free to email me at tegan.waite.2014@gmail.com. We would love to have you join the HEAL team. Make a difference, do what you are passionate about and know that every little bit counts.t-waite-kenya

Castleton University Students Provide Vital Role in Success of Statewide Summit

Written By:  Tyler Richardson

Secretary, Rutland Young Professionals and Assistant Director, Rutland Economic Development Corporation

 

On October 15th the Young Professionals Summit of Vermont was held at the Paramount Theater in downtown Rutland.  Over 150 attendees met to engage in a day filled with professionaldevelopment, networking, and facilitated workshops dealing with challenges faced by young Vermonters.  The event was designed and produced by a subcommittee of the Rutland Young Professionals, an all-volunteer 501(c)3 non-profit entity with a mission to engage with our community, create social and professional networking opportunities, and build a Rutland area that attracts and retains young professionals. 14680664_739797602826186_6798183962832041985_n

This was the second year the Summit was hosted by the Rutland Young Professionals, and it was the second year Castleton University student volunteers played an integral role in the success of the day.  While last year’s event – the first of its kind in Vermont – was a great success, we learned a few valuable lessons.  One of those lessons:  we needed more “hands on deck” throughout the day.  We reached out to Castleton University student volunteers for their help in providing even more assistance this year, and they didn’t hesitate or disappoint.  Seven volunteers showed up on site at 7:30 a.m. and stayed until the conclusion of the event at 4:30 p.m.  They helped with the physical set up in the morning, and the tear down at night.  They worked the registration desk, which became tremendously hectic at key moments of the day.  They guided attendees throughout downtown Rutland to make sure they arrived on time to various break-out sessions.  They greeted guests and made them feel welcome.  They represented Castleton University well, they represented the Rutland Young Professionals well, and they represented the Rutland region well.  The day was a big success, owed in no small part to these Castleton University student volunteers.

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It was important to us to have students engaged in the programming of the day, as well.  From some of the feedback last year, we got the sense that students felt this event was not for them.  We tried hard this year to dispel that myth, as student engagement is vital not just for the success of the Summit but for the future of Vermont.  We implemented a scholarship program to cover the registration fee and reached out to the Vermont State Colleges system to promote the Summit and stoke student engagement.  Not surprisingly, and to our delight, we had several Castleton University students take advantage of the scholarships.  They showed up and got involved in the day.  To see students taking an active role in their community – alongside other students, alongside individuals in more established stages of their careers, or with Congressman Peter Welch, or with Lt. Governor Phil Scott – it’s easy to be optimistic for Vermont’s future.  The future of Vermont relies, in part, on showing our student citizens that Vermont is a viable place to build their careers and their lives.  We need to do what we can to support their success, and our own success relies heavily on their ideas and perspectives.

Student engagement is crucial for an event like the Young Professionals Summit of Vermont.  Our sincerest gratitude goes out to the students of Castleton University for their support.

All Hands on Deck for Homecoming Weekend

Posted by: BreAnna Morse ’17

Homecoming weekend this year was successful thanks to the help of many active groups on campus: residence life, student government association and the alumni association to name a few. The weekend was filled with bouncy houses, cow plop bingo, maple cotton candy, and personalized trinkets such as coffee mugs, picture art, green screen photos, and caricatures.  It was a family, fun-filled weekend that made it an amazing event to be a part of. Due to my position in residence life and the student government association, I spent the day running around between activities which gave me a chance to engage with lots of different individuals all here for different reasons.blogpost2

The bouncy houses, run by Residence Life is always a huge hit at community based events.  Screeches and shouts of children racing each other was nothing less than entertaining.  Let’s not forget to mention the race between Director of Residence Life’s son, and Assistant Director of Residence Life, Shaun Williams.  Let’s just say, Shaun was put to shame.  Residence life put in hours of work behind the scenes and the day of to help engage not only the students of Castleton University but the alumni, community members and families who attended the joyous day.

Cow plop bingo is Homecoming tradition that many find entertaining.  This year, the cow, that everyone loved so much, ended up on multiple students Snapchats.  Needless to say, she had a nice little run from Public Safety to the baseball field where she interrupted a game.  Although the incident was known about all over campus, the cow did her deed and one lucky w inner got $100.00. blogpost1

Wanting something new this year, my family was generous enough to bring their Sugar Shack here to campus.  They had maple cotton candy, maple milkshakes, maple iced coffee, and other maple products.  The maple iced coffee was a hit, as most college student’s love iced coffee. It was a wondrous feeling to help bring something new to campus to change up the traditional events of the weekend.

Let’s not forget the ever famous make-your-own event that the Campus Activities Board hosts every year.  This year, we had mugs, caricatures, letter art, and green screen photos.  From the nicknames on mugs, to the crazy hats and poses on the green screens, students and families had a blast. Community Advisor, KC Ambrose states, “It is a great opportunity for students and families to receive mementos from Homecoming weekend that are sentimental and exciting.” This is a fun way to get the surrounding community into our doors and encourage kids to look into college through having good experiences here.

Overall, Homecoming was a huge success this year.  Everyone who contributed did an amazing job planning a wonderful event that left people smiling.  It is events like Homecoming that make Castleton such a warm and inviting environment. The community and university are able to come together for a great weekend and really engage with one another in a fun way.

Kids Night Out

Written By: Kelly Mesler

Kids Night Out is an event organized by the psychology department (specifically the ABA class) for elementary aged kids from surrounding communities. We invite elementary students from local schools to join us for a day of fun. Some of the activities we do throughout the day include swimming, video games, scavenger hunts, gym activities, trivia, movies, and arts and crafts.

The event started as a fundraiser for the psychology department but continued due to popular demand. It was looked at as a night out for the kids and also a night off for the parents. We try to plan the event around the holidays for this reason to give parents the opportunity to get their shopping done while their children are having fun at the college.

Each time we have the event, we notice many familiar faces along with new kids excited to spend a day with college students. Many kids have requested that we have the event more often than just once a semester because they enjoy it so much. This upcoming year, we hope to make that happen. Because the events are relatively easy for us to organize now, we are hoping to have the proceeds from one date go to a charity rather than having both be a fundraiser for our department.

The event welcomes all volunteers, in and outside of the psychology department, to offer as much time as they can to spend with the kids. We often get athletes and civic engagement students eager to be involved in the event. Kids Night Out is a great way for college students to engage in our community and really make a difference in young students’ lives.

Changing Attitudes Towards School Through Tutoring

Post by: Kelly Mesler ’17, McKenzie Bover ’16, & Molly Perkins ’17

Over the past two semesters Kelly Mesler, McKenzie Bover, & Molly Perkins have been working on creating and implementing the Castleton Tutoring Project. The idea originated from our work in the Language Development course, a Civic Engagement (CE) course here at the university. Throughout the course, we noticed a need in our community for children affiliated with the university. We decided to take advantage of this opportunity and implement a program to address the academic needs of children in our very own community.

McKenzie, Kelly, and Molly (the creators of the tutoring program).

McKenzie, Kelly, and Molly (the creators of the tutoring program).

We began by researching the needs and benefits of tutoring. We found research that supports the need for tutoring along with many short and long term benefits students and tutors may receive from this program. There are many social benefits along with academic benefits of tutoring, like increased meaningful engagements in classroom learning. Children who utilize tutors have greater progress in school, participate more during class, and complete homework assignments more regularly and frequently than their non-tutored peers. It is obvious that there are many benefits for students who receive tutoring, but we also found a substantial amount of research supporting benefits the tutor receives as well. Tutors profit from the tutoring experience in several ways. Tutors improve leadership skills throughout their tutoring sessions and sessions also solidify their knowledge of a specific topic. Participation in tutoring practices provides them with experience working with children and a deepened understanding of how to help children achieve academic goals. Tutoring programs may enhance the relationship between schools and the community, something we hope to be achieving with our program.

The start up of our program consisted of distributing online and paper preliminary surveys. The results from these surveys indicated that members of the Castleton community are in fact in need of our services! We found parents not only wanted their children tutored, but they also know of others who would benefit from this program. Respondents reported a variety of subjects including math, English, art, secondary language, grammar skills, and even social skills building. Our program is currently targeted at core classes (e.g. Math and English) but we are hopeful we can expand to more subject areas in the future. Meetings, for now, take place in the extra office or conference room of the psychology department, with resources to facilitate tutoring sessions and allow us coordinators to check in regularly.

McKenzie and Kelly doing some tutoring business.

McKenzie and Kelly doing some tutoring business.

When choosing tutors, we felt as if education majors were best equipped for tutoring practices and would also benefit from it the most by gaining experience in their field of interest. So far, we have about 10-15 tutors (mostly primary and secondary education majors) who specify in a variety of subject areas and availability. Our tutors are recruited by coordinator (currently Kelly, Molly, and McKenzie) presentation briefly at the beginning of education classes and school-wide emails. We tell students about the program and encourage them to become involved to gain experience and solidify knowledge on particular subjects without having to travel off campus.

Our role as coordinators is to be in contact with the child’s parents, discussing the area of struggle, goals, timing and availability, and be there to discuss any concerns they may have. We also are in charge of matching tutors based on availability and area of academic need. We suggest that students bring homework to work on, but there may be times where that is not possible. In that case, tutors can reach out to professors for materials (promoting agency in the education department) or we will happily do so. We are also responsible for keeping track of tutors and students’ names, availability, and making arrangements accordingly. We are in communication with all parties making sure the sessions are running smoothly and reassuring that we are there for any questions or concerns.

One of the tutoring sessions taking place.

One of the tutoring sessions taking place.

We have created a list of expectations and an agreement to participate to allow for assurance, liability and to keep coordinators active in the experience. In order to maintain a sustainable program and measure the effectiveness of the tutoring services, we utilize pre and post test measures. After collecting consent, students and parents will fill out surveys at the beginning of the first session and end of the last session to measure confidence and degree of enjoyment in the particular subject they are being tutored in. We expect to see an increase in both confidence and enjoyment for students on the particular subject in both students and parents!

Clearly, there is a need for tutoring in the Castleton community. Research supports that tutoring programs in general result in many benefits for both the students and tutors. We hope to bring these benefits to our community with our supervision and organization. Our program can help students get the academic support they need, help parents find reliable tutors, and provide education majors with an outlet to gain experience and academic benefits without having to travel to do so. We hope our project will expand in the future and with the success so far, the future of the Castleton tutoring program is looking bright!

Going Green for Earth Week

Post by: Catie Wielgasz ’16

Earth Week is celebrated by those throughout the Castleton Community in numerous ways. It is a time for the Green Campus Workgroup to put their best foot forward and teach the University and community ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Many plans have been made for this week leading up to Earth Day, which is today – Friday, April 22. For most of these events, gifts or prizes are being given out to those who win or attend!

The most well-known activity for Castleton students is the Electricity Reduction Competition. For an entire week, students attempt to reduce the electricity in their building by the highest percentage compared to any other residence hall on campus. Last year, the students took it to a whole new level; halls reduced their electricity by over 20% in order to win individual pints of ice cream. It was amazing to see the overall result of all residence buildings decreasing their electricity usage. This week, the competition is in full swing, as I have overheard students talking about it and their excitement. I have also experienced the competition by walking into my residence hall with no lights on and sightlessly finding my room. This year seems to be more successful than last year, on enthusiasm alone.

Earth DayTwo other major activities that are occurring on Earth Day are the Back to the Earth 5k trail run (at 5:30 pm) and the Earth Day Celebration and Recycled Art show (from 4 – 6 pm). I have already heard many students talking about the 5k and wanting to run it to show their support for this day. Proceeds will be supporting Pure Water for the World and the Sports Management Club. The Recycled Art Show and Celebration idea came from one of my Eco-Reps, Jessica Ralston; this idea is her project to spread awareness about sustainability for this semester. In the Art show, different groups of students could submit artwork made from recyclables, and various categories will allow the winners to be decided. Not only are Castleton Students contributing, but high school students will also be presenting their work on sustainability practices. I believe having high school students as a part of Earth Day will impact both current college students, and the presenters’ passions for sustainability.

With the help of the Green Campus Workgroup, Sustainability Club, and the Eco-Reps, I believe that 2016’s Earth Week will be extremely successful, and perhaps even more successful than last year. These new activities will bring students, faculty, staff, and the community together, and will also bring awareness and insight into sustainable practices. Please attend and participate in these events if able!

Free Food for All Community Members

Post by: Emma Blaiklock

Living off campus can be expensive, not only for rent and utilities but for costs of food as well. Castleton Universities’ Student Government Association (SGA) is collaborating with Castleton Cares, the town’s food shelf, in order to supply free monthly baskets of food to commuter students. Any type of commuter student who lives or resides in the Castleton, Hubbardton or Bomoseen area is eligible to pick up a box of free food once a month for them and their housemates, if there are any. One box of food is permitted a month per household with their student ID present. In order to sign up for the services, students need only bring their student ID and fill out the paperwork saying they live in the area and that day can bring home a box full of goodies!

Food packages can consist of a number of different items dependent on what the student is looking for and what the food shelf is carrying at that time. Soups, cereal, meat, sauce, pasta, canned and fresh vegetables dependent on the season are just some examples of items available. At this point SGA has gone door-to-door delivering fliers and talking with residents from the commuter homes in order to spread the word about the services and get to know more commuter students. Many students have expressed their enthusiasm for the project and either have signed up or will be signing up in the near future. This service can be utilized over the summer as well for students staying in the area during this time. Every Monday during the summer, students can go to the food shelf and pick up fresh vegetables that are not sold at the local farmers markets.

In partaking in this endeavor SGA and Castleton Cares goal is to supply food to commuter students and give back to the community through a food drive which will be hosted at the University’s talent show on Friday, April 22. All canned food and non-perishable items are welcome, just be sure to check the date!

SGA recognizes that sometimes commuter students can feel distant from campus due to the physical separation, but through this initiative we hope to make students feel that they are important and thought about – not only by their Student Government, but by the surrounding community they live in that is concerned about their ability to live off campus, and wants to help.

Castleton Cares Inc. is located behind and underneath the Federated Church of Castleton. The hours open are Mondays and Fridays from 1 pm to 3 pm weekly. If you have any comments, questions, or concerns feel free to email Emma Blaiklock, VP of Community Relations for SGA, or call the food shelf directly at (802) 468-2444.

Habitat Club Teams Up With Forsyth County

Post by: Kelly Mills ’16

Lodge squad with their site manager, Papa Joe.

Lodge squad with their site manager, Papa Joe.

This past spring break, 18 members of Castleton University’s Habitat Club packed up and began their adventure to Winston-Salem, North Carolina where they paired up with Habitat for Humanity (HFH) of Forsyth County for their sixth Collegiate Challenge. Throughout the year, the club members volunteer their Saturday mornings to local affiliates of Rutland, Bennington, and Addison County, working alongside site managers and future homeowners to build houses. The club facilitates fundraisers (their annual Basket Raffle, Duck Race, Chuck-a-duck, Chuck-a-puck, and Bottle Drives) all year round in order to fund their spring break down south helping out a different affiliate. In the past, the club has been to Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina. Just like any other year, the students arrived in Winston-Salem expecting to lend a helping hand to those in need of a decent place to live, but experienced so much more than just that.

Mr Wilson's house, where club members reconstructed his front porch.

Mr Wilson’s house, where club members reconstructed his front porch.

Upon arrival in Forsyth County, the club was split into groups of nine and assigned two different projects. HFH of Forsyth County is a well-established affiliate, and in order to continue serving their recipients, they are in the process of building a Volunteer Lodge. Nine club members worked alongside Papa Joe of HFH of Forsyth County working on the roof, insulating the basement and ceilings, caulking, and completing trim work. The Volunteer lodge will be the future home to all the volunteers staying with HFH of Forsyth County, and can accommodate up to 40 volunteers. The other nine members headed down the road to reconstruct Mr. Wilson’s (a Navy veteran and retired firefighter) front porch with Morgan of HFH of Forsyth County. They began at the beginning of the week by pulling up the old porch, and finished at the end of the week with painting the new porch. This was the first of a handful of reconstruction projects sponsored by Meals on Wheels and Home Depot. Check out this newscast that our own member, Kalie Dunican, was featured in!

Porch squad with their site manager, Morgan, and Mr. Wilson, the owner of the new porch.

Porch squad with their site manager, Morgan, and Mr. Wilson, the owner of the new porch.

Both of the worksites had various tasks that were to be completed by the trip members, and were equally distributed among the groups. The groups caulked, painted, insulated, nailed, leveled, built a wall, built a gate, and everything in between while on the worksites. Although throughout the week the tasks got more labor-intensive, the groups triumphed by supporting each other. The amount of positive energy surrounding the worksite was something that made the work seem easy for the club members. Papa Joe and Morgan were very patient and informative on the worksite, which was very encouraging to the members. This club is made up of very diverse individuals– various majors, beliefs, backgrounds, etc.– but they all have one thing in common: they love to help others. This is something that the members saw in each other every day, and it allowed for many different people to relate and bond with each other. It was brought up during a reflection experience that if it was not for this club, certain members felt that they would have never been friends with people on the trip. Although the club had spent time together before the trip, the trip allowed them to really get to know one another. CU Habitat arrived in Winston-Salem as a club, but left as a family.

The trip attendees in front of the new Volunteer Lodge.

The trip attendees in front of the new Volunteer Lodge.

This trip was not something you can experience through seeing pictures, Snapchats, Tweets, Facebook posts, or even through this blog post. The time the members spent with each other is truly irreplaceable. This is an experience that was shared by 18 people, and it is something that bonded them together and they will have for the rest of their lives– that no one can take away from them. I will not soon forget the smiles, laughs, tears, and blisters from this experience. So what are you waiting for? If you want to change the world and change your life, get involved! Habitat Club has weekly meetings every Tuesday at 8:30 pm in the Formal Lounge. Anyone is welcome, and it’s never too late to join!

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