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Capstone Projects

Rooted Education: learning from aquaponics

Sat, 04/30/2016 - 15:02
Abstract: Aquaponics is the integration of soil-less agriculture (hydroponics) within closed-loop aquaculture systems to reduce the toxic accumulation of nutrient waste from aquatic animals. Bacteria naturally establish to purify water by oxidizing the ammonia secreted by fish, which reduces the toxicity of effluent while creating a usable nitrogen source for plants. The conversion of ammonia and nitrite into nitrate by living bacteria communities is called a biological filter, or biofiltration (FAO 2014). Aquaponics would not be possible without biofiltration; the slightest amount of ammonia would be fatally toxic to fish, and plants wouldn't receive the nitrates they need to grow. There are unique opportunities offered by an aquaponics system to learn about ecological and human communities. 1.1. Aquaponics enables users to grow fish and agricultural plants with limited space and resource use (water, soil, and time). This enables an aquaponics user to invest less physical energy and time into expanding sustainable food resources for their household use. 1.2. A small aquaponics system could promote cultural values of self-sufficiency, energy consciousness, and connection to food systems. It could inspire individual efforts to produce food for one’s household, to build healthier and more resilient systems, and a greater appreciation for farming. Therefore, this project aims to actualize a mobile and functional aquaponics system for the educational benefit of the Paul Smith's College community. I will provide the background knowledge needed to maintain an aquaponics system, as well as describe the general concept of aquaponics design.
Access: No
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences, Natural Resources Sustainability Studies
Year: 2016
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Brian Jason Kohan

Turning Points and the Ecological Conscience

Mon, 04/25/2016 - 08:15
Abstract: We live in a time when environmental crises seem to be overwhelming: global climate change, water crises, and mass extinctions, to name a few. Some people seek out ways to address environmental problems, while others remain ignorant or deny the existence of serious issues. Aldo Leopold’s land ethic calls those who help, people who feel “the stirring of an ecological conscience.” Many studies have looked at the psychology of environmentalism and the factors that instill an environmental ethic. Some studies look at early childhood, others at significant turning point events. Many factors foster an ecological conscience among people. I was interested in how the “stirring of an ecological conscience” was instilled in our own community here at Paul Smith’s College. The faculty and students all have a story to tell about what led them here and this project explored that. The sample studied here found that among faculty and students, experiences from childhood played a significant role in the development of an ecological conscience. These experiences most often influenced the path of each participants life journey. These findings provide us with information on ways we can look to help instill the ecological conscience in others, through education and daily life.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Studies
Year: 2016
Authors: Dominic Rickicki

An examination of sustainable agricultural practices of small scale dairy farms in the Adirondack North Country of Upstate New York

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 09:14
Abstract: This study examines the sustainable practices of small scale dairy farms in the Adirondack North Country of Upstate New York. The results of this study can assist farmers in developing and implementing sustainable agriculture practices specific for small scale dairy farms in the North Country. Methods for research include farm tours as well as in person interviews with the farmers which will provide an understanding of what farming practices are currently being implemented as well as identifying what potential practices may be implemented. The information that is gathered can also be helpful with legislative processes. It may provide law makers and various agencies with valuable information that can help create guidelines and regulations that support sustainable farming methods as well as assist farmers in understanding their challenges and successes in reaching both economic and environmental sustainability
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2016
Authors: Steven Vincent

White-tailed Deer Browse Preference: A Comparative Study of the Catskill and Adirondack Mountain Regions, New York State

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 14:23
Abstract: Abundant white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in New York State, United States, affect forest regeneration and stand composition through feeding (browse) pressure. White-tailed deer browse preference of six different hardwood tree species in two mountain ranges, the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains, within New York State were compared in order to determine the extent of browse selection by deer. There were no statistically different browse selection by white-tailed deer within the Catskills or Adirondack study area or between each study site. Visual analysis of the study areas after concluding the study revealed that red maple (Acer rubrum) was the preferred browse species at each study site.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Title, abstract, TOC , Report
Authors: John MacNaught, Blaine Kenyon, Mark Staats, Travis Boucher, Noah Finlayson-Gesten

Best Management Practices for Cultivating Cold-Weather Shiitake Strains in the Adirondack North Country

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 09:55
Abstract: Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) cultivation has become an important tool for private woodlot owners to diversify their income and manage their woodlots more efficiently and sustainably. Through the art and science of mushroom cultivation three strains of shiitake have been created for varying climates: Wide Range (WR), Warm Weather (WW), and Cold Weather (CW). This study proposes that CW strains would be most ideal for the Adirondack North Country because growing conditions now and in the future are nearly optimal. CW strains have a shorter fruiting period (spring and fall) than the WR and WW; therefore, the mushroom production potential of the CW is underutilized. In order to get maximum production of their logs, most growers use a method called shocking to induce fruiting with WR and WW; however, research has shown that shocking does not trigger fruiting in the CW strains; rather, CW strains respond to temperature fluctuations. Taking this into account, we’ve introduced a hybrid approach of growing CW shiitake, which combines outdoor and indoor cultivation techniques to best imitate that temperature fluctuation. Growing CW shiitake using a hybrid approach can be the best choice for small-scale growers who wish to extend their growing season into the winter months, thus opening new market opportunities. By conducting interviews with shiitake growers in similar climates and compiling and analyzing literature from other professionals, we have gathered data on log harvesting, laying yard conditions, moisture management, and lighting conditions and developed a best management practices guide for small-scale shiitake grower/woodlot owners in a northern Adirondack climate. Ultimately, growers could diversify their sources of income, provide incentive to manage their woodlots and most importantly learn how to effectively utilize CW strains through the winter months.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Studies, Forestry
Year: 2015
Authors: Brittney E. Bell, Evan M. White

Interactive Electronic Education at the Paul Smith’s Visitor Interpretive Center

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 16:30
Abstract: The use of electronics in an educational setting is a debated topic, but certain kinds of programs are becoming more prominent. The purpose of this study is to examine how interactive electronic environmental education programs are used to facilitate environmental education, and attempting to determine whether or not the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) could make use of them. Through interviews with key members of the Paul Smith’s College and the VIC as well as surveying the general public of both communities it was determined that these forms of educational programs were not in high demand by the users of the VIC, but electronic recreation tools were.
Access: No
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Studies
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Phillip Markwalder

Management of the Invasive Species; a recommendation to the Paul Smith's College VIC

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 08:10
Abstract: This research looks at invasive species that are harming the Adirondack region. By examining both invasive species on land and water we can make connections to what the problematic issues are. By understanding the species, information can be gathered to educate the public on what to look for and how to prevent the species from spreading. Paul Smith’s College VIC is looking for new ideas to incorporate for both the campus and local community. The focus of this project is to look at what the VIC has done in the past, present and future in terms of education and programs. Creating a new program and addressing an environmental issue are two key components that we hope to make the VIC a stronger addition to the area.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Studies
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Invasive Species.docx
Authors: Cari Brazie

The Potential Distribution of Invasive Species Parallel to Climate Change at the Paul Smiths College Visitor Interpretive Center

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 13:17
Abstract: Human civilizations have been contributing to global climate change for as long as they have been altering the landscape. Whether it be from deforestation, to the release of carbon dioxide, we have been continually causing a greenhouse effect in the atmosphere. Due to warming temperatures, climate conditions have become more variable in the recent decades. A change of variability in the climate, also means a change in species distribution. As temperatures fluctuate in the Adirondack Park we may begin to see an increase in invasive plant species. Many invasive plant species have the ability to outperform native plants in regards to changing climates and eventually take over an area. The purpose of this study is to determine which plant species are most likely to make their way into the Paul Smiths College Visitor Interpretive Center, parallel to climate change, and what may be done to prevent or mitigate this new, potential alteration to the landscape.
Access: No
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Studies
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Heather Reilly

Acidic Deposition in Adirondack Lakes: Episodic Acidification and Equilibrium

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:06
Abstract: Acid deposition has been a historic problem in the Adirondacks. Though after original mitigation attempts were deemed successful, funding for many acid deposition-monitoring programs in the area has been cut or eliminated, and much of the data that has been collected is now old and outdated. Newer data on this issue needed to be collected to determine if there truly has been recovery of Adirondack lakes. Through this observational experiment the pH levels of 18 different lakes scattered around the Adirondacks during winter were examined. The pH levels of the snow around the lakes were examined to determine the levels of acid shock. This data was compared to the historic data available and created a preliminary finding. This comparison helped determine that Adirondack water bodies could possibly be coming to a form of equilibrium as the pH levels are possibly returning to a resemblance of pre-disturbance conditions, which suggests recent legislation may have had measurable successes in the goal of reducing the acidification of Adirondack freshwater ecosystems.
Access: No
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Integrative Studies, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Timothy Johnston, Andrew Olcott

Comparison of Industry Standard 5/16” Maple Sap Tubing Versus 3/16” Maple Sap Tubing Regarding Overall Yields for the 2014-2015 Maple Syrup Season at Paul Smiths College Visitor Interpretation Center, Paul Smiths, New York.

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 20:17
Abstract: Obtaining the highest yields during a growing season has long been the utmost interest by maple syrup producers across the northeast. Methods have been introduced such as different tubing sizes starting at 7/16” tubing to the industry standard 5/16” tubing, however recently the newest tubing on the market is 3/16” tubing. Theoretically the new 3/16” tubing would provide the highest overall yields in comparison to 5/16” tubing by increasing the amount of vacuum present under a natural gravity system. The study of examining the flow of maple sap between two tubing types consists of two sugar bushes located at the Paul Smiths College Visitor Interpretation Center in Paul Smiths, New York in the Adirondack Park. The two sugar bushes were constructed on similar landscapes providing the same of the following I.) Slope, II.) Size of trees, III.) Growing conditions, and IV.) Number of taps. Measurements of canopy cover and tree diameter were also compared to determine the overall health of both plots. The analysis showed that both canopy cover and tree diameter were less in 3/16” tubing however more sap still was produced in 3/16” tubing. The test compared 5/16” tubing versus 3/16” tubing in regards to overall seasonal yields. The overall seasonal yields for both 3/16” and 5/16” were measured in gallons from two separate locations. 3/16” tubing yielded more overall, ending with a total volume collected of 324.75 gallons of sap, while the standard 5/16” tubing yielded 296.5 gallons.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2015
Authors: Joshua Brewer