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New Trails

An endowed fund adds a new educational opportunity for recent graduates.

Kenyon’s Brown Family Environmental Center (BFEC) has added permanent funding for a new staff member to assist in event planning, land management and resource assessments, thanks to a donation from the center’s namesake family.

Madeleine Morgan ’18 started work at the BFEC just a few weeks after receiving her diploma as an anthropology major with a concentration in environmental studies.

David H. Newell ’75, a member of the Brown family, said, “The healthy future of our planet depends on the preservation of wild places and the education of young people who will appreciate and defend the natural world. The Brown family has been committed to those goals, and with this gift, it is our hope that a young, energetic and knowledgeable teacher will help further the work necessary to reach those goals. We are proud to sponsor that person and proud that Kenyon College can now offer that opportunity.”

Members of the Brown family contributed more than $600,000 to begin the post this summer and permanently endow it in future years. The new position is 35 hours a week for 12 months and is designed for someone who has just graduated Kenyon.

“I am interested in seeing how we can get more people involved in the nature center,” Morgan said. “I’ve already been involved in the local foods movement, and it will be nice to get to know more of the Knox County area in the year I work here.”

With only three staff members at the BFEC, community outreach and programming usually fell to Noelle Jordan, the center’s manager. Now the post-baccalaureate position will extend the reach and scope of off-site programming and will enrich on-site programming for families in the community. The person filling this position will gain event planning experience by implementing BFEC events such as the Fall Harvest Festival and the Earth Day Festival. As a sophomore, Morgan ran in the half marathon that was a part of the Earth Day Festival.

Jordan said, “We have designed this post-baccalaureate program with opportunities for the graduate to expand our programming and to gain insights into our land management and horticulture strategies, while making this an educational opportunity for the graduate.

“This is very much a coaching and mentoring opportunity, where we will teach Maddie a multitude of skills that she will then perfect during the year. Many of these skills will be transferable to different jobs and industries when she leaves us next spring.”

Morgan, from Needham, Massachusetts, completed an internship with The Nature Conservancy in Boston during her junior year. She learned online mapping software and instructed Conservancy staff on the features and usage of the tool. Jordan said Morgan may be able to use the mapping tool for the BFEC and to help get the nine miles of BFEC trails onto hiking apps for smartphones.

“This is a game-changer for the BFEC,” Jordan said. “Having a fourth full-time person — especially one of Maddie’s energy and enthusiasm, with her ability to learn on the run — will be very exciting. We can’t wait to see where she will be able to take us.”

At Kenyon, Morgan was co-captain of the Equestrian Team, volunteered at the Kenyon Farm and coordinated the Knox County Gleaning Club’s work to gather leftover produce from local farms to donate to local food pantries.

“I’ve always been really interested in how people interact with their environment,” she said. “That started when I took Advanced Placement environmental studies in high school. I like seeing all the connections in nature and between people and nature. I’m excited to learn more about these connections during my time at the BFEC.”