This is Vassar: The newsletter for Vassar College Alumnae/i and Families

Photo credit: Courtesy of E. Putnam

Environmentalist Elizabeth Putnam '55 to Receive Spirit of Vassar Award

AAVC and Vassar College will honor Elizabeth Titus Cushman Putnam '55 with its Spirit of Vassar award on June 5, during Reunion weekend. The award is given annually to an individual or group whose volunteer efforts exemplify an enduring spirit of community and caring.

For her Vassar senior thesis, Putnam conceived of a program that would be a modern day version of the 1930’s Civilian Conservation Corps. She proposed matching student volunteers with conservation projects that would be beneficial to both students and the environment. In 1957, her idea was fulfilled with the launch of the Student Conservation Association (SCA); its mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of our environment and communities by engaging young people in hands-on service to the land. To date, more than 55,000 high school, college and graduate students from the U.S. and 30 other countries have served in SCA, and more than half continue to work and volunteer in the conservation field. Still active as SCA’s premier ambassador and honorary director, Putnam has received numerous awards for her work, including the U.S. President’s Volunteer Action Award; the U.S. Department of Interior’s Conservation Achievement Award as well as the Secretary’s Commendation; and Rachel Carson Awards from both the National Audubon Society and Chatham University.

This summer Putnam’s inspiration will come full circle; SCA interns will, for the first time, lend a hand at the Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve, working with the preserve manager to protect the land and promote its use as an educational resource. (This is Vassar... will be reporting on the interns’ work later this summer.)

May 2010

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