The Finale

For us seniors, May is a month of lasts. The last time you’ll hike snake mountain, the last time you’ll have chicken parm in proctor, the last Vermont sunrise you’ll watch over the football field before graduation. For many of our class, it’s also the end 16+ years of continuous schooling – the last time to be in a college classroom, the last paper you’ll ever write for a professor, the last exam you’ll sit in, that last powerpoint presentation.

As an environmental studies major, my last assignment at Middlebury College was a culmination of all these academic milestones. The capstone environmental studies course, called ‘401’ for short after the course, always consists of a group project with a community partner focusing intensely on one particular environmentally related issue. This semester, all our projects focused on environmental innovations occurring in Rutland County, about an hour south of Midd.

Therefore, for the past semester I have been working with a group of three other students from different foci and the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL), an organization that is devoted to fostering the farm-to-plate movement in Rutland County. We ambitiously aimed to make a video for our project based on interviews we conducted with farmers, restaurant owners, chefs, hunters, anglers, even insurance agents, about their connections to food and eating local. As a result, we took upwards of 10 trips to Rutland as a group during the semester, interviewed 12 people, conducted 5 short surveys, and attended several food-related events, like the farmer’s market.

Last night, we finally had the chance to present everything we’ve worked so hard on to our community parnters at RAFFL, our professors, and the rest of the Rutland Community. We did our presentations actually in Rutland, as opposed to here at the college per usual, at the Rutland Public Library. To max out on academic potential, we presented a PowerPoint presentation, turned in a 22 page written report, made a website, and finalized and aired our video (which was so nerve-wracking it certainly felt like taking an exam!).

All in all, the feedback we received and the positive reception from our professors and community partners made the entire semester worthwhile. All the long drives and long days spent editing video footage paid off in a capstone presentation of which I am truly proud. It was an appropriately ambitious way to finish out my final semester here. I can’t believe last night I turned in my last paper, presentation, and test. All good and satisfying lasts.

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