Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Rochester Roots: Excellence in Community Sustainability Education

Jan McDonald, executive director of Rochester ROOTS, Inc., located in Rochester, New York, presented a seminar on March 9, 2016 titled “Bringing Science to Life: A collaborative Approach to Sustainability Education in Grades PreK-6th grade where Students, Teachers, Citizens, College Students, PhDs, and Businesses Learn Together” as part of SUNY ESF’s Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions Seminar Series. SUNY ESF Graduate Student Association, and the ESF Women’s Caucus jointly sponsored the seminar. Her inspiration for ROOTs now signature programs started with her childhood food allergies, and realization that when her diet improved, they bothered her less—while spending less at the farmer’s market
            ROOTS mission is “To empower citizens and communities, starting with youth, to create agency for their own sustainable wellbeing.” Ms. Donald presented the organization’s work which involves improving community health through and wellbeing through youth school programs and community gardens.  An example of this is local Montessori children working with RIT students to develop their imaginative ideas into tangible systems like classroom composters and robotic interfaces and gaming models.
            A central theme for ROOTS is creating diverse community gardens through learning environments, grassroots initiative, and the use of adaptable urban sustainable designs. Ms. McDonald discussed how to improve life enrichment and nutrition by developing gardens for low income communities by integrating sustainable agriculture, art, and healthy eating.
            By incorporating hands-on gardening experiences, students are able to learn the value of gardening and food preparation which empowers youth, family, and community. These community gardens - repurpose otherwise abandoned land which simultaneously approves aesthetics. In addition, the produce can be sold at market or used in product development, serving additional lessons in marketing and sales.

            For more information about this lecture and Rochester ROOTS visit For more information about WiSE Professions Speaker Series, please visit For upcoming lecture, please visit the College Calendar at
Students in FOR797 Env Career Strategies for Women share responsibilty for reporting on the WiSE Professions Speaker Series.  The preceding was prepared by Kelley Corbine, Nicolette Fruehan, Devin Hansen and Joel Ramtahal, all graduate students in the Department of Forest and Natural Resources Management.

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