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Expanding grass, roots education

GREENFIELD — The Recorder and the Conway School are teaming up to expand educational opportunities for residents of Franklin County and southern Vermont.

The newspaper and the Conway School’s Graduate Program in Sustainable Landscape Planning and Design have created a new fellowship program that will pay $10,000 each to two area students to attend the 10-month master’s degree program.

As part of this “Sustainable Communities Initiative,” two residents of Franklin County and/or Windham County, Vt., will be awarded the fellowships to attend Conway’s program next school year, to focus on projects to improve community resilience within these two counties.

“The Recorder was thrilled to be able to help create these fellowships, which allow local people to further their education and careers in sustainable landscape planning in ways that can benefit them and Franklin County,” said the paper’s editor, Tim Blagg. While the fellowships only cover about a third of the cost of the master’s program, this partnership makes it “a lot easier for some deserving area resident to get on board,” said Blagg.

“The Recorder has consistently demonstrated its commitment to community development, food security and agricultural protection, as well as the challenging issues that face this economically disadvantaged region,” said Conway’s President Paul Cawood Hellmund. “We feel The Recorder is the ideal partner for this collaboration.”

The Conway School is the only institution of its kind in North America. Its focus is sustainable landscape planning and design. Each year, through its accredited, graduate program students from diverse backgrounds are immersed in a range of real-world design projects, ranging in scale from residences to regions. Graduates go on to play professional roles in various aspects of landscape planning and design.

Most of the graduate students are from out of state, however, and the Recorder-enabled fellowship program is intended to make it easier and more likely that local students can get their master’s at the Conway School. Students explore questions like what does it take to sustain a community, including its people and environment, especially in the face of a sluggish economy, increased concerns about the safety of and access to good food, and dramatic and rapid changes to the climate.

Applications to The Recorder/Conway School Sustainable Communities Fellowship will be reviewed as received and accepted by the Conway School until Aug. 1, for the 2013-2014 academic year, which begins Sept. 3. Local municipalities and agencies with suggestions for land-based design and planning projects that Conway graduates students might undertake are encouraged to contact the school as well.

For more information contact Mollie Babize, associate director for admissions, at 413-369-4044, ext. 5.

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