Sustainability at Culver

Conserve – Reduce – Educate

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Marshall County Food Council Begins!

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow…

Building on a series of community meetings and many conversations over the last couple of years, a group of community members met on Friday, January 27, 2017 at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Plymouth to form the Marshall County Food Council.  Pictured below are some of the attendees representing Ancilla College, Argos Community Schools, Culver Academies, the Marshall County Neighborhood Center, the Marshall County Community Foundation,  the Purdue Extension program, County Line Products (a local produce grower), the Plymouth Farmers Market, and the Culver Farmers Market.  group-pic

While they take many shapes and forms, at its core a food council is an organization which connects food system stakeholders — growers, producers, consumers, distributors, and other interested people and organizations.  Food councils encourage ideas and advance initiatives to grow a sustainable food system that improves the health and well being of the community.  A number of such councils are springing up around Indiana, each with a focus on its own particular geographic area.  With the support of the Purdue Extension program and the Marshall County Community Foundation, we believe our initiative is off on the right foot!

We are at the very beginning stages of our effort.  We still need to take such basic steps as to craft a vision and mission.  This council is a group of “doers not talkers.”  This orientation to action is evidenced by our meeting on the 27th  whose purpose was to connect local producers and growers with larger local buyers.  A number of new, productive relations were established and we hope to build on this initial success moving  forward.

Our Council agreed to meet bimonthly on the last Friday of the month @ 3pm and welcomes all interested parties.   For more information please contact Sandy Read at the Purdue Extension office, or Chris Kline at Culver Academies,

Following our meeting, a number of us from Culver Academies visited the Oberholtzer farm (County Line Products mentioned above).  Take a look at these lucious greens from the Oberholtzer’s greenhouse.  Who says you can’t grow lettuce in northern Indiana in January!




Green Life is for the Birds!

This morning about 45 Green Life members did a simple, but effective, project for the birds on our campus (and probably squirrels too :).  Taking pine cones collected from our campus, students covered the cones with peanut butter, dunked them in bird seed and then attached the feeders to trees around campus.

You can now see several dozen of these pine cones scattered around campus.  Reply to with a picture of birds or wildlife munching on the cones.


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Sustainability, Empathy and Inclusion

Culver has participated in the Green Schools National Network, sending students and faculty to the GSNN’s productive and inspiring national conference each of the past two years.  Below is a thoughtful post from the GSNN Board written by Tim Cole, the Sustainability Officer for Virginia Beach City Public Schools.  Mr. Cole, a retired Navy SEAL, connects sustainability principles to many of the leadership principles to which we aspire at Culver.

Virginia Beach is a conservative community politically and home to several military installations.  The community is also one of the most at-risk communities in the country to sea level rise associated with climate change.

The large school system has  enthusiastically embraced sustainability in their curricular and operational practices.  Mr. Cole writes:


It’s been a tumultuous year in politics and the rhetoric around the election has provided us with… let’s just say, a multitude of “teachable moments.”

In a recent news story on titled “Post-election comments prompt principal’s letter to embrace shared values in Virginia Beach,” Dr. Alex Bergren, Principal at Princess Anne Middle School in Virginia Beach, recently sent a letter home to parents addressing an increase in what he described as “disrespectful and at times hateful comments.” Dr. Bergren did a great job addressing the issue in a thoughtful and non-partisan wayIn his letter, Dr. Bergren talks about respect and inclusion. These are subjects that are prevalent in any meaningful discussion around sustainability. Furthermore, by discussing sustainability in the context of the Triple Bottom Line, balancing social, economic, and environmental outcomes becomes part of our daily decision making process and allows us to explore the interconnectedness and interdependencies that we not only have with one another, but with everything within our universe. Expand this perspective and our discussion begins to explore larger issues around equity, inclusion, and empathy.

Recently, I was listening to a podcast on NPR of a discussion between David Brooks (Columnist, New York Times) and E. J. Dionne (Columnist, Washington Post) on Sinfulness, Hopefulness, and the Possibility of Politics. David Brooks quoted Dave Jolly, a veterinarian in Oregon. The quote resonated with the times. He said, “What a wise person says is the least of that which he gives. What gets communicated is the small gestures and the whole totality of their being, that is to say the small gestures of kindness, of grace, of honesty, of hard truth-telling. Never forget the message is the person.”

As we head into the holidays, consider how you can integrate the Triple Bottom Line into your sustainability efforts, be they in the classroom, the school building and grounds,  or in the decisions you make to improve the health, well-being, and culture of your school or district. No effort is too small.

You might also consider supporting the Green Schools National Network, as we translate the Triple Bottom Line for schools and school district leaders across the country.  Consider a year end donation that will support the 2017 launch of a new magazine for the K-12 community, the Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly, and our new K-12 Executive Education for Sustainability Leadership program.

Others will follow your example. It starts with you.

“The message is the person.”

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Culver Students Taking Positive Action for the Environment

Images tell the story and I’ll let a couple of pictures tell a couple of stories.

First, earlier today, a group of six Green Life Club members traveled to Plymouth to the Marshall County Recycle Depot to help Marshall County Solid Waste Director Marianne Peters and other volunteers plant a dozen large spruce trees on the Depot property to serve as a windbreak.  These were not your 1 year old sticks, but approximately 5 year old balled and burlapped spruces.  As you can see below, our kids were up for the task!

Great Job !!

Another student’s effort for the environment deserves mention for the creativity he employed.  Ignas Masiulionis (CMA’17) constructed and installed 6 wood duck boxes near ponds, the lake, wetlands and streams on Culver’s 1800 acre campus as part of his service leadership project.   Wanting to encourage other students to enjoy the natural beauty of our campus, Ignas organized a scavenger hunt to find as many of the boxes as possible.  Three teams of two were successful in locating all six boxes this past Sunday, with the aid of a rough map.  It was a great day to tromp through the woods!