April 14, 2016
Dr. Michele Goldsmith is passionate about raising awareness and community engagement around environmental issues.
Goldsmith, associate professor of science and former Papoutsy Ethics Chair, is an influential figure in behavioral ecology and conservation. Her work studying mountain gorilla populations and the ethical implications of ecotourism in Central Africa has informed her commitment to live a conscious, respectful life in harmony with the environment - a philosophy she challenges her students to consider.
"Southern New Hampshire University has a high commitment to being green and developing community ties," says Goldsmith. In the 2013-14 academic year, she collaborated with an interdisciplinary team of university and community partners closer to home to plan, prepare and plant a rain garden that is now helping to control storm water runoff and stop pollutants from reaching the Merrimack River.
This particular project was appealing to her, she says, because it laid out a series of tangible steps that aligned students with SNHU's mission to be a conscious consumer institution. As an instructor in the fledgling Environmental Science major, Goldsmith is proud to have contributed to a project that offers students the chance to complete fieldwork that affects the entire community.
Kelley Hobbs, assistant director of the Center for Community Engaged Learning at SNHU, originally heard about a call for projects from Campus Compact for New Hampshire that would increase campus and community awareness of environmental issues and create a plan to help. She knew she could pull together a team to make an impact, and soon recruited Goldsmith, along with fellow science faculty member, Dr. Joseph Corbin, and Dr. Allison Cummings of the English department, whose composition class created a children's book about the project. The SNHU team also partnered with a third-grade class at Beech Street School in Manchester.
Together, the team identified test sites, performed soil and water analysis, researched beneficial and indigenous plant life, mentored elementary school students in planting seedlings and building birdhouses, and planted the garden, and will continue marketing their efforts to the greater community.
"This project was a success - in terms of planning and execution, in terms of community involvement, and in terms of our providing experiential learning opportunities. Our efforts beautified campus," says Goldsmith. She and the entire team hope that the gardens will further infuse a 'green mindset' on campus. The rain garden will remind the SNHU community that the ground beneath our feet can impact a waterway overlooked by most. "Making a small step in the right direction will cause a snowball effect for all to follow in years to come."
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