In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people worldwide are observing the 50th anniversary of Earth Day from home – and the Holderness community is no exception.
With guidance from Director of Sustainability Maggie Mumford, students this year have organized a virtual Earth Day through the online student portal. A dedicated Earth Day page will serve as a virtual hub for students and faculty throughout the spring, and will include eco-minded podcasts and videos, tips for students to live more sustainably, and links to virtual Earth Day celebrations across the world. Students and faculty are also encouraged to post photos and videos to show how they’re observing Earth Day at home.
“Anyone from the Holderness community can make contributions – pictures from what they’re doing on Earth Day, maybe progress in their garden, where they are, or a walk they took,” Maggie says. “There will be lots of useful information on there – links to all sorts of resources as well. We’re encouraging people to utilize that through the spring.”
Holderness will also spotlight students whose Senior Thesis work focuses on environmental topics. One such student is Kai Parlett ’20, who will be featured as a guest on the NHPR program “The Exchange” discussing her work as an intern with 350NH, a group dedicated to stopping climate change. And in a new Earth Day initiative, Holderness will create a Green Honor Roll recognizing alumni and other members of the extended Holderness community whose work, volunteerism, or lifestyle have made important contributions to sustainability and the environment.
While Maggie and her students would most certainly prefer to celebrate Earth Day together on the Holderness campus, this year’s virtual observance may ultimately have a much more profound impact. Although social distancing is difficult for everyone, it does present students with a unique opportunity to make real and lasting changes in their own lives and home environments. For her own Earth Day observance, Maggie plans to work in her garden and mitigate the impact of invasive species in the forest that surrounds the Holderness campus.
“I think that’s my biggest message and should be our biggest message: this may feel like a time of great restraint, but it is a huge opportunity to also get out and appreciate what’s around you,” says Maggie. In doing so, she hopes students will reflect on lessons learned during the current health crisis, and how those lessons can be applied to looming environmental problems. “We’re trying to get the students to look beyond the immediate and think about what they can do for the future.”
While the upcoming school year’s cohort of new students won’t arrive at Holderness School until later this summer, they’re already connecting with current students and faculty through the school’s revamped Big Sibling Program - and the newly-created Summer Advisor Program.