Vassar College’s new initiative, The Environmental Cooperative at the Vassar Barns (Environmental Co-op), was launched earlier this year through the generous support of The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. The mission of the Environmental Co-op is to expand and coordinate conservation throughout the Hudson Valley by supporting current efforts and developing new programs to inspire further engagement in conservation education, outreach, and research by the community and region. To accomplish those goals, two new hires were made this fall: Jen Rubbo is the manager for the Environmental Co-op and Jamie Deppen is the Environmental Monitoring and Management Alliance (EMMA) coordinator.
Deppen’s position has her working with scientists, land managers, and conservationists from the EMMA member organizations to standardize monitoring protocols and increase environmental engagement in the Hudson Valley. EMMA includes the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Community Greenways Collaborative, Huyck Preserve & Biological Research Station, Mianus River Gorge. Mohonk Preserve, New York Botanical Garden, Teatown Lake Reservation, Vassar College, and Westchester County Parks.”
Rubbo received her Bachelor’s degree in environmental and forest biology from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and her MS in ecology from Penn State University. A Dutchess County native, Rubbo spent several years involved in wetland research and management in the South and Mid-Atlantic States. She returned to the Hudson Valley ten years ago and has since been active in facilitating environmental education and outreach programs at local non-profits. Prior to her position at Vassar, Rubbo coordinated the Fall Kill Watershed Committee for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and was an Education Program Leader at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook.
The Environmental Cooperative will work to increase place-based environmental education, outreach and research through collaboration. It will bring together regional environmental organizations, community groups, and the college to engage the public in conservation efforts. The Cooperative will be working closely with the Poughkeepsie community and Vassar students and faculty to harness the work Vassar students are doing to make an impact on the local environment in the city as well as region. Collaborations include working with the Middle Main Initiative, the DEC Hudson River Estuary Program, Cornell Cooperative Extension and The Poughkeepsie Farm Project.
The renovated barn at the Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve will house the Environmental Cooperative, the NY regional office of the Student Conservation Association, and the EMMA Coordinator as well as provide supplemental programming space for the Poughkeepsie Farm Project. Flexible space will be available for temporary offices and event space for interested community groups and organizations. The completion of the barn is expected in spring 2016.
For additional information about the Environmental Co-op, call 845-437-7422 or visit the office Facebook page.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.