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Skidmore College
Sustainability

Outdoors 

Natural environments or green spaces tie into many aspects of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. On one end, universal, safe, inclusive, and accessible green spaces are a part of theSustainable Cities and Communities goal. Green spaces, like parks and preserves, then tie into theLife on Land Goal of protecting and restoring terrestrial ecosystems. There are many ways that green spaces tie into environmental protection, social issues, and overall sustainable development. At Skidmore, we own around 800 acres of forested land, including our 150 acres of North Woods on campus! These lands are important for wildlife habitats, but this parcel of woodlands on campus is also a tremendous resource for the health and wellbeing of students and community members who use the trails to walk, explore, and in turn, nurture their own mental and physical health.

Connecting with the outdoors is important for individual health and the wellbeing of our planet. Especially as college students, we can gain a lot from the positive benefits of time in nature. Spending time outside can help reduce stress, clear the mind, and sharpen focus. Plus, it’s really fun! We live in a beautiful, nature-filled area, and taking advantage of those opportunities can only improve the Skidmore experience. Also, when folks feel a deeper connection with the outdoors, they are more likely to work to preserve it. It is important to note that there is a history of exclusivity in the outdoors and it is crucial to continue actively working towards creating a more diverse and inclusive outdoor culture at Skidmore and beyond. 

Outdoor recreation is historically and presently a white-dominated space. Parks and public lands have a long racist and discriminatory history, from forcibly removing Native Americans from their land to anti-Black policies within park lands (Sierra Club). Many public parks, pools, and trails were segregated, preventing Black individuals from accessing these spaces, and that sentiment trickles into current day as many people feel unsafe and uncomfortable going to public/national parks (American Trails). Further work needs to be done to increase the inclusivity and diversity in outdoor spaces while also acknowledging that many of the National and State parks we have today forcibly removed the people who lived there. There are many powerful BIPOC led groups shifting the landscape of outdoor recreation to be safe, inclusive and healing for people of color, like Outdoor Afro, Black Girls Do Bike, Intersectional Environmentalist, and many more (check out this page of50 BIPOC Owned Collectives). Check out native-land.ca to discover which indigenous peoples once lived on the land we now reside on. White folks must educate themselves about these travesties, upend racist policies, and make space for BIPOC leadership. 

Spending time in nature is chemically good for our brains and our bodies, helping to relieve stress, improve cognitive ability, and improve overall mood (UPenn). Access to nature has become incredibly important, especially during the pandemic with increased levels of stress for most individuals. In some cases, a way to lessen stress and increase your overall mood is to ‘prescribe’ time in nature (Cornell). As mentioned above, time spent in nature is linked with reductions in stress, increased happiness, and an overall boost is physical health (Cornell). Additionally, studies have shown that time in nature also lowers blood pressure, reduces nervous systems arousal, increases immune system function, and reduces anxiety (Yale 360). Therefore it is incredibly important to make sure you spend time outside as often as possible, even everyday. With online classes and a global pandemic, many people have been stuck inside for longer periods of time and have less of a reason to travel, but it is important to plan to spend time outside each day to better your overall well being. In addition, time outside is linked to increased cognitive ability, such as increased concentration and attention span (Cornell). As you spend time outside, optimize your experience by making sure your time spent outside is relaxing, try not to listen to music but instead listen to the sounds of nature, focusing on things like the wind or birds (UPenn).

 

connecting with the outdoors improves physical health, enhances mental wellness, and encourages environmental responsibility

 

There are plenty of awesome outdoor opportunities near Skidmore. Some require significant transportation, but others are within walking distance! Whether you like to connect with the outdoors by walking, running, biking, skiing, sledding, skating, climbing, exploring, sitting, meditating, farming, or anything else, you can access it as a Skidmore student. 


Tips for Living in On Campus

  • Many students do not have access to a car, but you can still connect with the outdoors without one! On campus students can enjoy Case Green, the grassy area and gazebo by Haupt pond, and Northwoods. Within walking distance students can reach Congress park downtown. 
  • Don’t forget about carpooling! Check with friends to connect with the outdoors with you and you could share a ride there. 
  • Outing Club offers club-led hikes for various skill levels and they provide transportation! This is a great way to try out hiking for the first time. They offer guidance and gear support before trips, so attendees are dressed comfortably and bring enough food.
  • Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Parkis 6 miles away from campus and hosts some very diverse ecological systems, like the Saratoga sandplains, and is also home to the endangered Karner blue butterfly. This is also a great place to volunteer and they offer lots of education and recreation programs!
  • Hudson Crossing Park is 11 miles from campus, but a nice quiet place where you can walk along the Hudson river, site along the canal, or even sit outside and do homework!
  • Spa State Parkis only 4 miles away from campus and is a great place for a bike ride or walk or try some of Saratoga’s famous spring water! (Trail map)
  • Adirondack Mountains
    • The ADK Mountain Club provides lots of information and tips for activities in the Adirondacks
    • Check outAll Trails to find trails that work for you, with things like distance, time, and any trail updates!
    • We live right near theAdirondack Park!Take advantage of the beautiful hikes and adventures the park has to offer, including the 46 High Peaks. 
    • The Catskillsare also close by and offer hiking and other activities such as camping, skiing, and more!
  • Skiing
    • Rent skis and equipment from Alpine Ski Shop located right off campus!
    • West Mountain is only 30 minutes away from campus and has a good range of easier and more difficult trails.
    • Whiteface Mountain, around 2+ hours from Skidmore College, has the longest single intermediate run in the Northeast (2.1 mile trail!). It has some easier and more difficult trails, but has a large selection of most difficult and exper only trails as well.
    • Gore Mountain, only around 1 hr away from Skidmore, offers around 100 trails! Similar to Whiteface it has a wide range of trails but also a large amount of most difficult trails as well.
  • Local farms and Orchards you can visit 
    • Saratoga Apple is an orchard and farmer’s market open everyday all year round and is known for their “pick it yourself” apples and other fruits! (Their apple cider donuts are also delicious and freshly made!)
    • Ellms Family Farm, popular in the fall, has a bunch of fun events, like pumpkin picking, corn mazes, and more!
    • Sunnyside Gardensis a great garden center, great for indoor plant shopping, that has an annual Fall Festival with a pumpkin patch and more!
  • Saratoga PLAN is a community-based conservation organization that focuses on preserving local habitats, farmlands, indigenous ancestral lands, and more. It also has some volunteer and internship opportunities!
  • Check here for a bunch of other outdoor activities in the area!
  • Outing Club is a great Skidmore Club for anyone interested in the outdoors, offering a wide range of trips and activities. They also have a gear shed students can borrow for free!
  • Ski clubs: Skidmore Alpine Ski Racing Teamand Nordic Ski Club!
  • Environmental Action Clubis a student organization on campus focused on environmental issues and sustainability.
  • Last but not least- the North Woodsis a network of trails through 155 acres of hardwood forest right on campus! Trail map here!

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