Diversity in The Environmental Field

by Sherrie Kelly

By Jamie Oriol and Lanika Sanders

On Monday, the countdown began. With packing lists in hand and visions of green rooftops filling our minds, the final preparation for our trip to Boston has commenced! As eager as we are to hit the road, however, the past week’s bustle has demanded our attention. Among the completion of final projects and standard house chores, the Sustainability Semester found time to help at the St. Lawrence University’s Folk Fest. This event, which is hosted by a sustainably minded campus theme house known as the Greenhouse, gathers together North Country artisans and musicians to share skills and talents with the entire Canton community. We worked our own table in groups of three, helping visitors make paint designs out of handmade vegetable stamps.

Strolling through the various tables at Folk Fest reinforced the idea of environmentalism as an extremely broad field. There were woodworkers, knitters, quilt makers, yoga teachers, and more. In no way were the tables limited to traditional “green” occupations, such as sustainable energy lobbyists or activists. The various people attending Folk Fest had merged their interests and skills with a simple love for the environment. This combination was often shown in obvious ways, such as through using sustainably sourced lumber to create furniture, but other instances were less obvious. Len, our favorite yoga instructor, captured the public’s attention with his unique take on creating fire, using manpower rather than machines to create a spark. Few of these jobs are necessarily labeled as “environmental” careers, but all of them incorporate bits of sustainable philosophy.

Further demonstrating the depth of the environmental field, we visited Mike Corse at Deep Root Farm to gather information about growing wild mushrooms. Driving down the seemingly endless dirt path on a rainy Saturday, we had no idea what to expect. Mushrooms were a mystery to us, as was the occupation of mushroom farming as a whole. Chatting with Mike while stuffing logs with pegs made of sawdust and mushroom spores, we learned a little more about his lifestyle. Not only does Mike provide the community with delicious, locally grown mushrooms, his trade has heavily impacted his lifestyle. Working so close to the land has provided Mike with a deep appreciation for nature, driving his decision to live off-grid for the past nine years.

As we look into our own futures, many of us students are still unsure about how to convert our love for the earth into a career. There are countless possible environmental foci, but only so many of us to fulfill these equally crucial and interesting professions. Despite this, we all have our individual interests, whether or not they are labeled as “sustainable” careers. Some people have a deep interest in sports such as cycling and running, while others are more focused on nutrition, architecture, or green energy. For this reason, the diversity shown at Folk Fest has really inspired us to follow our individual interests, even though these curiosities may not lead to traditional jobs in the environmental field.

Creating vegetable stamps may not be on all of our lists as a viable way to make a living, but we certainly had a great time sharing this interest with the community! For now, though, we are absorbed by the allure of everyday city hustle and bustle, counting the days until we set out on the epic road trip from our quaint farmhouse to Boston. There, we hope to gain an even wider understanding of the possibilities offered in the environmental field.

pic 1 - Alie painting a handmade veggie stamp.

pic 2 - Some of our vegetable stamps carved by community members who visited our Veggie Stamp Table at Folk Fest.

pic 3 - Mike Corse of Deep Root Farm drilling holes into logs, which we then filled with pegs made of sawdust and mushroom spores