Bogdanovitch Leads PA in Future Sustainability Efforts

In only her second year at Andover, Sustainability Coordinator Rebecca Bogdanovitch has led Phillips Academy conservation efforts and helped to start a tradition of student awareness and involvement. Her office serves as the center point and coordinator of various environmental groups on campus. “I help string together different initiatives,” Ms. Bogdanovitch said, describing her office as “a way to get past the barriers that maybe stop communication.” Bethany Simard ’07, head of Eco-Action, agreed and said, “I think that Ms. Bogdanovitch’s contributions to our school’s sustainability efforts have been very significant. In previous years, I think there has been a complete lack of communication between different parts of the school.” Ms. Bogdanovitch said that her conservationist parents and childhood in the Adirondacks made her current position a natural choice. “Talking about the environment and thinking about my input has been part of my whole life,” she said. From her home in upstate New York, Bogdanovitch went on to graduate from Bowdoin College in Maine, where she was also involved with sustainability and conservation during her later college years. She kept her original major of sociology and women’s studies, describing it as “a framework to look at the world.” “The environment [like sociology] can be seen as interacting groups,” said Ms. Bogdanovitch. “They actually go together really, really well.” At Bowdoin, she worked at Sustainable Bowdoin, the environmental office, where she helped organize an inter-dorm conservation competition similar to the Green Cup Challenge. She continued work there after graduating, maintaining a strong interest in service-learning as it relates to sustainability education. Her dedication made Andover an easy choice for Ms. Bogdanovitch, who said that she has always had an interest in teaching out of the classroom. She spent her first year at Andover as a community service teaching fellow. Bogdanovitch worked behind the scenes to help coordinate various projects. It was during this year that Ms. Bogdanovitch noticed that despite student and faculty interest in a “green” Phillips Academy, there was nowhere to bring their efforts together. Ms. Bogdanovitch, Marlys Edwards, Trish Russell, and teaching fellows Franny Ritchie, Emma Leonard and Aaron Jakes applied for an Abbot Grant in the spring to establish a PA Sustainability Office. The grant will last for two years, after which Ms. Bogdanovitch hopes the school will continue funding the office. This year, Ms. Bogdanovitch has helped distribute energy-saving CFL light bulbs, worked with the Recycling Coalition, a group of teachers and OPP senior administrative council members, and brought the Green Cup Challenge, among many other ideas, to the attention of Eco-Action. Bogdanovitch plans to help out with spring term Praxis, a sport offering that will concentrate on Search and Rescue skills along with environmental stewardship, as well as help with a nation-wide day of climate change awareness. “She plays a big part in getting our plans to work out… Ms. Bogdanovitch basically made the Green Cup Challenge happen,” said Bethany Simard. Ms. Bogdanovitch sent weekly conservation tips to The Phillipian during the Green Cup Challenge. As faculty sponsor for Eco-Action, she attended their meetings. She also met with 15 other Green Cup Challenge coordinators from other schools to exchange ideas. Ms. Bogdanovitch helped bring ideas into fruition through communication and enthusiasm. She is currently considering the “E-proctor” system other GCC competitor schools use, which selects environmental proctors in each dorm to encourage energy conservation. Changes to the Green Cup Challenge next year will be the increased focus on partnership, rather than competition, between different schools. Competition will be re-directed to scholastic teams, such as dorms and clusters. “This brings the competition home, so to speak, and makes it more tangible,” she said. The PA Sustainability Office also works to institutionalize the efforts many have already made. “The Green Book” is a small, student-published book distributed in 1993 that contains tips on how to lead a “green,” environmentally responsible PA lifestyle. Ms. Bogdanovitch hopes that she will not only be able to revive traditions like this, but preserve them so they, unlike this book, will last long after the graduation of individual students. Ms. Bogdanovitch urges students to remember the power and responsibility that comes with the fortunate lifestyle of many PA students. She hopes that by educating students on climate change and the environment, she will not only raise awareness of the issue and what students can do to help, but also help students overcome the inevitable apathy and defiance of tackling such a broad issue. Ms. Bogdanovitch cites the poem written and performed by Jessica Cole ’08 at the Green Cup Challenge Coffeehouse as an articulation of many students’ emotions. “[I am] tired of being shouldered with the burden of my descendents,” the poem reads. Ms. Bogdanovitch hopes that in the future, her office will be able to not only solidify the efforts of already motivated students, but also motivate more to become involved. “My only hope is that we begin to consider the environment in every decision that we make,” said Ms. Bogdanovitch. “Now, this could be something as simple as recycling my meal after an away game or implementing LEED certification standards in our new buildings. Every action has an impact on our surroundings. Behaviorally, we need to consider this relationship in all that we do.”