Endicott’s new Associate Director of Sustainability Carly Thibodeau is “on a mission for us to make Endicott into a living lab for sustainability,” she said.
A “one-woman department,” Thibodeau’s portfolio includes managing Sustainable Endicott—a suite of initiatives by the College that includes efficient and renewable energy efforts, recycling, sustainable building operations, and sustainability education.
But she’s especially passionate about the latter: “It’s so important for our students, faculty, staff, and alums to have knowledge to take home with them and implement in their daily lives, homes, and communities.”
Sustainability Week, celebrated November 9–16, marked the start of that ripple effect. Thibodeau leaned on four Student Fellows to plan the events and activities: seniors Gabby Blum, Erin Brophy, and Olivia Mersicano, as well as freshman Cheryl Mei.
This is the fourth Sustainability Week that Blum has helped organize. “Sustainability Week finds ways to make each aspect of this campus as sustainable as it can be and encourages students’ involvement in maintaining it through Sustainable Endicott,” Blum explained.
As a coastal campus, Endicott has a special charge to protect the local ecosystem. The events were fun and creative yet promoted awareness of the need for urgent change. The lineup included everything from a DIY terrarium craft project where students got to take home a succulent plant buddy, to a campus-wide clothing drive, a Native Peoples listening circle, and a honey-tasting with Massachusetts-made honey.
A highlight of the week was the high-velocity scavenger hunt, which guided students to familiar corners of campus they might not realize are quietly making the school greener—like the beehives, EV charging stations, and pervious pavement in parking lot #12, an innovative permeable asphalt that captures stormwater runoff and removes dangerous pollutants emitted by vehicles.
Thanks to cutting-edge initiatives like the massive parking canopy and solar roof on Raymond J. Bourque Arena, as well as the upcoming solar canopy on the campus parking garage, Endicott is consistently recognized as one of Princeton Review’s Green Colleges. The College also received the 2019 the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) silver rating in 2019. “We will be submitting another STARS Report and this year we are going for Gold,” said Thibodeau.
She’s hoping to get there by formalizing an Endicott Sustainability Plan—a multi-year roadmap she will write with the help and buy-in of students, staff, and faculty.
After the Sustainability Week festivities wrapped, Thibodeau reflected: “It’s been great to watch Endicott students learn about sustainable features on campus that they walk by every day. Now they appreciate the function and impact of these sites and spaces. But to me, the best part of the week has been seeing students realize how much of an impact they can make even through small actions. That’s what Sustainability Week is all about.”
Thibodeau learned about conservation first-hand growing up in rural Mendon, Mass.
“There was a pond out back and I was constantly out there playing in the mud, catching frogs and salamanders, and exploring the woods. I've always really been into nature and protecting it,” she said.
It was a study abroad trip to Costa Rica as an undergraduate student at Westfield State University that made her decide to pursue a career in sustainability and education. “I was struck by how much of an impact the environment has on us and how much our economy impacts the environment,” she said. She listened to environmentalists and business leaders loudly speaking over one another and hoped to one day serve as a bridge between the two groups.
Thibodeau is currently completing her Masters in Sustainability at Tufts University. A hands-on internship at Tufts’ Office of Sustainability formalized her decision to pursue a higher ed sustainability path.
“When this role opened at Endicott, it seemed like a great fit because Endicott is a small college where you can really influence change. It's an atmosphere that is open and receptive. I knew it would be a place where I can really make a difference,” said Thibodeau.
Sustainability Week was a teaser for the annual spring Earth Week as well as the school’s upcoming participation in the 2022 Campus Race to Zero Waste Challenge, a friendly national competition galvanizing support for waste reduction, reuse, and recycling.
“We will get to compare Endicott to other schools across the country. We will ask, ‘What are we already doing really well? What can we do better?’” said Thibodeau.
Student groups like the Endicott Environmental Society, The Sunrise Movement Club, and the Beekeeping Club are already leading that charge.
For more information or to get involved with Sustainable Endicott, follow @SustainableEndicott on Instagram or email Carly Thibodeau at the Office of Sustainability at firstname.lastname@example.org.