Ryan Wall ’20 and Jay Carhart ’21 are contributing to Hamilton’s growing culture of environmentalism as summer sustainability interns. In this role, Wall and Carhart are working with Director of Environmental Protection and Safety Brian Hansen 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.
Major: Environmental studies
Hometown: Holyoke, Mass.
High school: Northmapton High School
To gain firsthand knowledge and make connections with the local area, the interns visited locations on and off-campus. “During a trash collection at a local creek … I ended up having a 15-minute conversation with a local farmer about the river, the runoff, and trash collection efforts,” Wall said. “I never would have met him or had that if it hadn’t been for this internship.”
Carhart spoke about the on-campus projects the two tackled this summer, citing one experience in particular as a proud moment: “We just wrapped up our fifth zero-waste community lunch,” he said. “I don’t think people normally get to see that side of sustainability. We like to think of solar panels and reforestation as the cool stuff, while the trash and waste disposal part is just as important.” Carhart specifically cited Hamilton’s composting efforts as an exciting and effective new initiative.
Wall and Carhart both described classes they took prior to the internship that prepared them for hands-on work. “Gateway to Environmental Studies really helped,” Wall said. “There was a lot of proposal writing, and having that experience and direction was definitely helpful.” Carhart pointed to the same class as a helpful background for field work, as well as Environmental Science and Society.
Hometown: New York, New York
High school: Trevor Day School
The two spoke about some of the challenges surrounding sustainability work at Hamilton, including budget restrictions and the fact that sustainability efforts are often met with apathy or misinformation. However, Wall and Carhart say they have noticed a positive trend in environmental concern on the part of faculty, staff, and students. “At the beginning of the summer, we had to stand at the waste disposal area at the community lunches and make sure people were doing it right,” Carhart said. “Now it’s better; we can just sit down, eat lunch, and [check on things] every now and then.”
The end of their internship doesn’t mean the end of the duo’s commitment to environmental issues. Wall plans to focus his senior thesis on sustainability and energy use on campus, and Carhart will serve as a sustainability coordinator, continuing many of the same initiatives he’s worked on this summer. Carhart offers this advice to fellow students: “Look out for emails from HSC (Hamilton Sustainability Coordinators) and HEAG (Hamilton Environmental Action Group) … but most importantly, do your own stuff. If you want to start a green initiative, start doing it, and people will catch on.”
Wall and Carhart are among 200 Hamilton students conducting research or completing an internship supported by the College this summer.