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Leave No Trace

May 31, 2024

Sage Melton
Major: Dance, Math/Computer Science
Class of 2027

Moving all the way across the country this past fall initially felt scary and as if I was really going into a whole new world blindfolded. However, there were some constants I knew I could count on, my training as an artist and dancer, and my love for the environment. One of the main reasons I committed to SUNY Purchase was because of its beautiful natural surroundings and open space. As somebody who has always strongly valued giving back to my community and improving sustainability, when the opportunity to connect with other environmental enthusiasts on campus through this internship program came, I knew I had to become involved.

Over my first few months here on campus, I became enthralled with the natural beauty found across campus. And although I valued and appreciated the school’s sustainability initiatives, I found that there were still a handful of issues, for example the lack of reusable dishware at campus dining services, that I found myself confused by. Becoming involved in this community of interns and being able to hear the passion and ideas of my peers allowed me to become better educated and think of ways that I myself could contribute to helping improve sustainability on campus.

The project I decided to settle on eventually was creating a plan for designing “Leave No Trace” signs for the woods located by Alumni Village. As someone who frequently walks in and explores that area of campus, I find that although my fellow students do love that area, they do not treat it properly with care. I often find litter there and wildlife that has been left trampled upon. I have found an array of broken bottles, cans, plastic remnants, and even balloons caught in trees, and this litter is especially concentrated near the bonfire areas in the woods. So in order to help remediate this problem, establishing signs that remind students to be careful of how they impact the wildlife felt like the best first step. So, I designed a handful of different signs to show that this message is truly coming from their fellow students who care deeply about the natural land here on campus. I also mapped out where these signs should be located and created a general budget.

Implementing these signs will only be a small part of what we hope to be a larger movement of familiarizing the student body with the natural lands here on campus. My fellow interns have also started mapping out different trails in these woods and we hope to also further educate students on the native species through various programs and restoration projects. I look forward to continuing my work protecting these lands next year!