Student Leadership and Engagement
Student engagement is at the forefront of our sustainability efforts. Hamilton offers a range of clubs and organizations dedicated to environmental initiatives. These clubs provide a platform for students to actively participate in creating a more sustainable campus and community. By joining these clubs, students can get involved with community outreach, gardening practices, and conversations surrounding Hamilton’s step towards a greener future. Students have the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded peers, develop leadership skills while making a tangible impact on our environmental footprint. Explore our vibrant club scene and find your place in the sustainability movement.
Climate Justice Coalition
The Climate Justice Coalition (CJC) is a group of students working to educate the campus community on climate justice and climate change-related issues, both locally and globally. Climate justice is the understanding that the climate crisis affects communities disproportionately-marginalized and oppressed people are more harmed by climate change. Alongside education, CJC works to build solidarity and action through collaboration with other on-campus activist groups and faculty. They have helped put on events such as a teach-in and fundraiser for queer and trans youth affected by hurricanes in Puerto Rico and Florida, fossil fuel divestment awareness, food justice initiatives, and most recently a community art collaboration during Green Week. Come get involved!
Aquaponics Club is a sustainable agricultural club that grows fish and plants together in an efficient indoor system. Aquaponics is a system of aquaculture in which the waste produced by fish supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water for the fish. The club grows lettuce, basil, mint, tomatoes, kale, and more in a state-of-the-art aquaponics system in the Taylor Science Center’s greenhouse complex. Club members help feed the fish, monitor the system, plant seedlings, and harvest veggies. The produce grown by the club is donated to local food pantries or sold back to the community with proceeds going to urban farming charities.
Slow Food Hamilton College is a local chapter of a national organization dedicated to helping students and their local community understand more about sustainable food systems (slow food being the opposite of “fast food”). Through our relationships with local farms, growers, and markets, Slow Food allows access to the behind the scenes of the local food processes that interweave with Hamilton College and the surrounding area. We organize trips to farms like Jones Family Farm, Fruit of the Fungi, and Common Thread in order to start conversation and spark attention. We also collaborate with other groups on campus to organize on-campus events along that theme (examples include pumpkin carving with the Wellin, food share programs through Community Pantry, and volunteering opportunities with HAVOC). Slow Food also often includes cooking! At every location we visit, we purchase some products with which we can cook communally, in order to reinforce the sense of community that slow food processes can engender.
Plants @ Hamilton
Plants @ Hamilton provides a space for lovers of all flora, whether their interests lie in botany, horticulture, farming, other plant sciences, and even the simple mission of keeping one plant alive. The club provides weekly activities that allow one to participate in adopting a new plant or a fun plant activity. The club is eco-conscious, paper free, and uses recycled materials. The recycled material includes potting, propagation of plants, and science lab equipment. Plant club gives homes to propagate plants for all and helps to reduce waste on Hamilton College campus.
Hamilton Sustainability Coordinators
Hamilton Sustainability Coordinators (HSC) are students who work for the Environmental Protection, Safety and Sustainability Office to plan and implement sustainability initiatives undertaken by the College, particularly student-facing projects. They also represent a bridge between all students and their elected representatives on Student Assembly. Founded in 2004 as the Recycling Task Force, HSC changed its name in 2018 to reflect the expansion of its mission beyond waste management. Coordinators are regularly involved in and/or facilitate dorm composting, reforestation plot/pollinator habitat management, and community education and outreach. HSCers are mentored by Sara Soika and Brian Hansen and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harvest is Hamilton’s student-run, on-campus food salvage program. Over the course of the 2022-2023 school year, over one hundred student volunteers packaged 12,322 pounds of excess dining hall food for our eight community partners. By reducing food waste and feeding our community, Harvest is a program that is both environmentally and socially beneficial.
Summer Sustainability Internship
The Environmental Protection, Safety and Sustainability Office hires several students each summer to both advance Hamilton’s sustainability initiatives and provide experiential opportunities to inform and enhance participants’ future career interests. Three former sustainability interns (now graduates) are leading sustainability efforts on other college campuses, including:
Jennifer Kleindienst ’09: Director of Sustainability, Wesleyan University
Olivia Shehan ’18: Sustainability Coordinator, Wellesley College
Hayley Berliner ’19: Sustainability Coordinator, Trinity College
Past Sustainability Interns
The office announces new internship opportunities each spring. Examples of recent internship participants and their projects are below
Tag Team Sustainability ’23
Interns for Hamilton’s Sustainability Office, Betsy Gross ’25 and Adrian Stefan ’24 ensured that the near-3,000 trees on campus are appropriately marked and cataloged. Information about each tree’s species, location, and capacity for carbon sequestration is then recorded in a digital program called ArborScope.
Sustainability Interns Make Their Mark on College Hill ’22
Green Attributes Project: The “Green Attributes” project, designed by Ellie Sangree ’24 with help from Helen Xin ’25, Clara Zhou de Magalhaes ’24, Emmy Goodwin ’23, and Bussiere, outlines how the College can use green landscaping as a tool to further Hamilton’s commitment to sustainability.
Growing Closer to Carbon Neutrality ’21
Avery Morgan ’21, Lilia Harlan ’22, and Margaret Phipps ’23 worked on a new reforestation plot (tract 11), developed new trail systems in the Rogers and Reservoir forests, and researched strategies to expand low-mow zones and pollinator gardens on campus.
Hands On Environmentalists ’19
Ryan Wall ’20 and Jay Carhart ’21 worked on projects ranging from maintaining the many trails around campus, overseeing recycling efforts at weekly community lunches, to improving the reforestation area located on the former golf course.
Turning Environmental Passion into Action ’18
Enogie Omoregbee ’21 and Christopher Hart ’19 worked in the community farm by building pollinator gardens, and worked at reforestation sites around Clinton.
Difference Makers in Sustainability ’17
Hayley Berliner ’19 and Nick Pace ’19 researched and implemented forest stewardship practices, investigated community engagement opportunities that generate carbon offsets through community tree planting, and investigated the practical and financial viability of projects related to green roofs/rooftop gardens, green fitness equipment, and green revolving funds.
Sustaining and Interest in the Environment ’16
Emma Karsten ’18 and Olivia Shehan ’18 investigated peer institution best practices to improve Cram & Scram, developed detailed analyses of alternative land use practices (no-mow zones, butterfly gardens, forest carbon sequestration) with the assistance of local forester Dr. Steven Bick, and worked on a community service project to clean up Oriskany Creek.
Geothermal on Campus ’15
Victoria Blumenfeld ’16 investigated a geothermal replacement compressor system for Sage Rink, attended meetings hosted by BYSERDA and Second Nature regarding ongoing Hamilton initiatives, wrote a waste management plan, including an informational packet for RA’s, and contributed to the logistics for a sustainability-themed orientation adventure trip for first-year students.