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Hope for a Sustainable Purchase

February 26, 2024

Dr. Allyson Jackson

Faculty, Environmental Studies

I’m thrilled to be overseeing this brand new sustainability internship program this spring! While I knew Purchase was a special place, I was blown away by how many students from so many different majors signed up to be sustainability interns despite us never running a program like this before. It’s a testament to how much our students care about the environment and want to make a real difference.

The interns are working in 6 different teams but we have lots of crossover between the groups. We are getting all of the intern teams together several times during the semester so we can communicate, strategize, and determine goals.

Campus Composting Internship

Purchase College is helping reduce food waste through a composting program using an industrial composter, called The Rocket (located behind the Hub). Right now, the Rocket gets pre-consumer food scraps from the Hub and produces high quality compost that can be used in campus gardens. Interns are helping this program to grow to its full extent by working to keep the Rocket running at capacity while also expanding this program to capture more food waste.

Food Recovery Network Internship

The Food Recovery Network (FRN) is the largest student movement fighting food waste and hunger in the United States. America wastes approximately 40 percent of the food it produces, despite confronting a growing problem of food insecurity across the country. The Purchase College FRN Chapter aims to provide resources to food-insecure students by participating in food recovery, donating food to those in need, and enhancing public awareness through education and advocacy. Food Recovery Facilitators assist in campus food recovery efforts, staff the pantry, and participate in FRN organizing to combat food waste and insecurity among the campus community.

FreeStore Internship

Purchase College maintains the FreeStore on campus, which is a space run by PSGA to allow for student clothing and housewares swaps using a donation/counter-consumerism based structure. This space provides an important resource for students and is critical to a zero waste and sustainability movement. These interns help further this mission of the FreeStore and expand to reopen FreeNew for spring 2024 move out. FreeNew allows students to donate housewares directly into sheds near their dorms during move-out. In the fall, students moving back onto campus can take anything they need from those sheds.

Land Stewardship Internship

Purchase College is home to 500 acres, which includes 100 acres of protected forest and stream ecosystems. These interns are working on projects related to preservation, education, and outreach about our natural areas. These projects include: Campus natural areas mapping, including outreach to explain trail system and locations of interest (including old growth areas, interesting landmarks, places of retreat), developing a program to clear invasive plants in areas of conservation concern, and campus litter education and engagement.

Native Plant Garden Internship

The Purchase College Native Plant Garden (@purchasecollegegarden on Instagram) is home to 24 species of flowers native to eastern North America that provides important benefits for local pollinators and wildlife. Started by a group of students, faculty, and staff in 2019, the Native Plant Garden offers a unique opportunity for experiential learning right here on the Purchase College campus. Interns are helping grow plants from seed, maintain the native plant garden, and plan garden expansion projects

Zero Waste Internship

The Purchase College Sustainability Advisory and Outreach Committee (SAOC) is committed to reducing waste on our campus. Interns are working on reducing waste across campus, which involves complex interconnections between food waste, recycling programs, public outreach, and administrative oversight. We have a lot of work to do in this sector but this is a priority of SAOC and a mandate from the state, which means big changes are coming and our interns helping make this happen.

Dr. Jackson is pictured outside holding a bird in both hands. While you will usually see me nerding out about birds and ecology, working with the sustainability team has helped me learn and grow as an environmental scientist.