Alumni Share Expertise

This spring four alumni, Ben Hartman ('97), Rachel Hershberger (’95), Aaron Lehman (’00), and Aaron Sawatsky Kingsley (’92) helped Environmental Science students learn more about their local environment as they each shared about their work in enhancing our community in environmentally-conscious ways. Environmental Science teacher Amy Thut, also a 1995 alum, says, “It’s a joy to expose students to Bethany alumni who are dedicating their energy and creativity to our local environment. These role models are a great inspiration for how to apply science in practical ways, to enhance our community. I appreciated their willingness to share their expertise with Bethany students.”

Rachel Hershberger and Ben Hartman, Clay Bottom Farm

During a unit on land use and agriculture, students toured this five-acre organic farm that uses appropriately-scaled technology to reduce the impact on the environment. Students saw the diversity of fruits and vegetables grown and which are sold at the Goshen Farmer’s Market and through a Community Supported Agriculture program.

During the tour Ben talked about the practices they use to minimize the use of petroleum, to enrich the soil, and to provide healthy food for their customers. These include:

  • using organic fertilizers from local sources, such as worm castings and leaf compost,
  • growing cover crops to enrich the soil,
  • using greenhouses and biodegradable black mulch to extend the growing season,
  • growing a diversity of crops, providing a diversity of habitat for beneficial organisms,
  • selling produce locally to minimize fossil fuels for transportation,
  • providing green pasture for animals to graze,
  • using ducks to eat unwanted pests,

Students had fun guessing the crops being raised and enjoyed a taste of fresh, crisp turnips.

Aaron Lehman, Habitat for Humanity, Elkhart County

During a unit on energy consumption and green buildings, Aaron Lehman, construction manager for Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County emphasized that an important part of providing affordable housing is to provide affordable utility bills! Habitat builds their houses so that owners can expect to pay around $100 per month for water, sewer, electric, and heat combined. He presented the three main aspects of energy efficiency regarding heating costs: insulation, sealing leaks, and an energy-efficient furnace and helped students calculate and compare the potential longterm costs and savings of different levels of efficiency. Due to their commitment to these features, Habitat homes being built in Elkhart County are on average among the most efficient in the county. Students commented that they appreciated learning about green design from someone directly involved with construction and learning that being environmentally friendly is possible and financially beneficial for low-income citizens.

Aaron Sawatsky Kingsley, City of Goshen

As the city forester, Aaron is responsible for planting, promoting, and maintaining healthy trees in the City of Goshen and recently established a tree nursery in East Goshen Park along Lincoln Avenue. Environmental Science students worked with Aaron at the park, in preparation for the city’s Arbor Day celebration. Students planted young trees, raked and weeded around existing trees, and bagged trees to be given away at Arbor Day. In preparation for this project, students reviewed how trees are integral to almost every topic discussed through the school year, including ecology, water quality, soils, natural resources, and energy.