Jane Dawson is not only the Virginia Eason Weinmann '51 Professor of Government and Environmental Studies but she is notably the current Karla Heurich Harrison '28 Director of the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment. We caught up with Jane at a local vegan restaurant, as her lifetime love of animals has shaped her food choices and beyond.
Jane grew up in Ohio where around age five the neighborhood boys introduced her to snakes. She started not just owning them but volunteering for the local nature museum so she could interact with reptiles, birds of prey, and many other creatures. She quickly worked her way through the ranks of Junior Explorer, Junior Naturalist, etc. until she was a curator giving full blown tours. In college there was no environmental studies major at that time, so at Bryn Mawr she majored in chemistry and science. At Harvard pursuing her Masters in physical chemistry, she felt disconnected being in the laser lab for three years searching for a hidden energy level that seemed to want to stay hidden. She took time off and started teaching high school chemistry and physics, all the while taking Russian language classes and studying then even visiting the Soviet Union. She decided to make this political hobby her career so she headed back to school at John Hopkins to get her Masters in International Relations and Soviet Studies, then on to Berkley to get her Ph.D. in the same topic. Here she met her now husband Robert Darst, where they both traveled to the Soviet Union and wrote articles together on waste and environmental justice issues surrounding nuclear power. At GNCE, Jane says she teaches and advises students to "wake up" the next generation on why they should care about social, political and environmental issues. She loves learning from Center students and their projects, and the students love the semester end sustainable potlucks she hosts in her home with her beloved cats. Jane went vegetarian over a decade ago, and is frequently biking or kayaking and traveling, even going on an African safari a few summers past. She continues to write and teach on environmental justice and animal welfare and the intersection of us, other species, and the planet, bringing her formative years full circle.
The warm weather and long days have arrived, so time to gear up so you can get out there! First you must decide what type of fishing as gear is specific especially to water type and species. For example, a freshwater pond setup for small panfish is very different than the gear needed for salt water fishing for Stripers (Striped Bass) in choppy Long Island Sound. Luckily many rods and reel setups are versatile with different line and tackle or live bait for species that inhabit similar waters. Maybe it is easier to pick where you want to go and start from there? Check out the CT DEEP fishing website and try the "Something Fishy" site:
Susan's roots are in the mid-west, where she was born, went to school, and started her environmental and agricultural based education and outreach work. She has worked at a zoo, at a natural history museum at the beginning of discovery schools, and taught high school before working at CT DEEP. This wealth of experience makes her the perfect educator to coordinate and share CT's Project Food, Land and People curriculum, Project Wet, as well as spearheading climate education for the new science standards. This legislative session, CT passed a requirement for climate change to be included in curriculum, but no surprise that Susan was ahead of the need and already offering programs for teachers on climate education. This July Susan is coordinating and holding a 3 day workshop on Communicating Climate Change, and Jennifer is thrilled to be teaching on the boat tour of the CT River having the 25 teachers observe and predict impacts and plan lessons to make climate science come to life for their future students.
So in between leading and chairing multiple educational groups and institutions and all her other citizen science literacy work, what does Susan do for fun? She is an avid reader, quilter and traveler. She loves traveling alone and check out museums and centers to inspire herself and her programs at Kellogg, which you can learn more about here: https://www.ct.gov/DEEP/cwp/view.asp?q=322550. One of her favorites is the Prince Edward Island Potato Museum! Her most recent notable adventure trip was Alaska, but she has done the Grand Canyon and many other places solo. What is next for the inspiring Susan? Perhaps an African Safari, but keep watching as she is sure do do much for for us in the state and beyond who are lucky to have such a talented and committed educator.
Nothing captures the feeling of summer ease like a day fishing, pole in hand, surrounded by water and nature's calm energy. Much like life, you can ponder what will you catch today and bring from the depths into the light? Whether you are in a kiss-and release or catch, clean and eat what you caught frame of mind, this blog series will inspire and inform you to get going!
First step is to get a licence. Luckily, no carbon footprint needed, you can easily obtain one online on the CT DEEP website at https://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?q=322716. Notice there are several types of licenses including freshwater, marine, and a new trout/salmon stamp. I prefer the all water license with the addtional 5$ trout/salmon stamp so my possibilities are limitless. This also benefits conservation efforts statewide. If you are 65 or older there is no fee except for the stamp, and license fees are cheaper for youth. After purchase, make sure you print it out and have it on you at all times, as State Conservation Officers will often stop to see it, as well as inspect what you have caught. Catch limits vary from site to site so make sure you are informed as worse than fines, would be to stress the population or diminish recreational opportunities for yourself and others. Shared resources are to be cared for and treasured by all.
This summer Associate Director Jen Pagach is pioneering an Environmental Leader series, where she interviews inspirational individuals on how they "get their environment on" often while hiking the recently blazed Richard H. Goodwin Trail. During the first section of the Goodwin Trail starting in Haddam she interviewed Brian Toal, Supervising Epidemiologist in the Environmental Health Section CT DPH in charge of toxicology and hazardous substance response. While Brian's work has him dealing with emerging environmental issues all day long, he still has a host of environmental hobbies and pursuits in his free time.
As past President and trip leader with the Hartford Audubon Society, while hiking he shared his birding expertise and tips to allow us to hear and glimpse some really beautiful species through his special binoculars. In the new growth forest with streams and gentle inclines and declines, the canopy was a chorus of beautiful breeding birds. Spotted specimens included a red start, scarlet tanager, indigo bunting, acadian flycatcher and an extra special treat of a cerulean warbler!
With such beautiful birds spotted, you can see why he caught the birding bug and continues to offer tours and help with data collection even past his term as Audubon President. An avid fisherman and golfer, ultimate frisbee player and coach, member of the CT Forest and Parks Association and currently working on backpacking the Appalachian trail in New England, Brian has so much knowledge to share, and his enthusiasm is contagious. In fact, this hiking trip was inspired by him alerting us there was a prothonotary warbler in the Connecticut College Arboretum this Spring!
It was a very special treat to see and hear the bird world and forest thorough his environmental and conservation minded perspective. Through his work, hobbies and passions, he approaches, appreciates and helps the planet in very diverse yet complementary and powerful ways.
If you want to learn more or be on the bird siting list, visit https://www.hartfordaudubon.org/ and http://www.ctbirding.org/birds-birding/ct-birds-email-list/
A special new trail that spans several southern Connecticut towns was recently officially blazed and open to the public. The best part? It is named after one of our Center namesakes, the inspirational Richard H. Goodwin! In honor of this trail and the environmental leadership trail he blazed, we will be doing a blog series interviewing environmental leaders as we hike sections of the Richard H. Goodwin trail together. Our first section will feature Brian Toal, Supervising Epidemiologist in the Environmental Health Section at CT Department of Environmental Health, and Past President of the Hartford Audubon Society.
Stay tuned and be ready to be inspired.
For more information on the trail, visit www.eightmileriver.org
On a beautiful sunny May day, ten amazing Goodwin-Niering scholars became Center alums as they received their certificates and special sashes handcrafted from reclaimed materials. We are so proud of our unique yet bonded class of 2019 and look forward to seeing them share their many gifts with the world!
Sarah Bass, Ricardo Olea, Emilio Pallares, Chloe Mayhew, Johnathan Evanilla, Nate Morris, Delilah Fairclough-Stewart, Sydney Krisanda, Amelia Morrissey and Ariane Buckenmeyer show off their unique sashes and spirits.
For more information about previous GNCE conferences, visit our web site.
Clare Loughlin, a member of our GNCE class of 2018, received a Fulbright fellowship to teach English in Malaysia. She is writing about her experience at her awesomely titled blog, ClareAbouts.
This November we hosted Dr. Lori Gruen, Professor of Philosophy & Coordinator of Animal Studies at Wesleyan University, for her second Lambert Lecture for the Center. Gruen’s work lies at the intersection of ethical and political theory and practice, with a particular focus on issues that impact those often overlooked in traditional ethical investigations.
Titled "Empathy and Sanctuary: Reimagining our Relations with Other Animals", her compelling talk had the full room questioning how we do, could and should engage and relate with non-human animals. In addition to succinctly covering ethical theory, she gave an overview of some notable relation categories with case studies. Particularly enlightening was the topic of Government owned chimpanzees formerly used for lab research which are now protected, but some remain in the same caged facilities begging the question of what sanctuary could and should be.
Gruen is the author and editor of 11 books, Fellow of the Hastings Center for Bioethics, a Faculty Fellow at Tufts’ Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine’s Center for Animals and Public Policy and a member of the APA Committee for Public Philosophy. She also sits on a number of non-profit advisory boards and has become known as a bit of an archivist for chimpanzees in the US given her work documenting the history of The First 100 chimpanzees in research in the US, and the journey to sanctuary of the remaining chimpanzees in research labs, The Last 1000.
If you missed the compelling talk, do not despair, it can be accessed here.
The Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment at Connecticut College
a special community of students, faculty and staff, promotes student led and faculty guided interdisciplinary research on environmental issues