Trustee and Spouse Fund New Environmental Fellowship

A gift from Patrick and Tamar Smith Pichette ’86 will support a new conservation fellowship for a Vassar alum who will work for several months with interns at a Canadian wilderness preserve and then return to The Preserve at Vassar to assist with research, environmental monitoring and land management.

Woman standing outside in front of the Vassar Barns
Jennifer Rubbo, Director of Vassar’s Environmental Cooperative, at The Barn on the Ecological Preserve.
Photo: Karl Rabe

Applications for the two-year fellowship, open to all Vassar alums, are now being accepted, according to Jennifer Rubbo, Director of Vassar’s Environmental Cooperative.

The fellowship recipient will work at both the Kenauk Institute and Vassar College. Kenauk is a private 65,000-acre nature preserve located between Montreal and Ottawa. The fellow will collaborate with interns there in research projects. At Vassar, the fellow will work with staff at the Environmental Cooperative and the Preserve at Vassar to develop and assist with environmental education programming and implementation of the preserve’s Conservation Action Plan. The first Fellow will start work in May. 

Group of students sitting on and in an off-road pickup truck
Interns at work at the Kenauk Preserve in Canada.
Photo: Courtesy of the Kenauk Institute

Tamar Pichette, a Vassar trustee who has had an ongoing relationship with the Kenauk Institute, said the idea for the fellowship arose out of conversations she had with College President Elizabeth H. Bradley. “(Bradley) had the idea of creating a conservation fellowship as a joint initiative,” Pichette said. “Given Kenauk’s work as a center for ecological studies with a focus on conservation through research, the synergy with Vassar’s ecological preserve offered a compelling opportunity. At the Kenauk Institute, we bring students onto the property for intensive internships where they carry out original research on wide-ranging topics. Extending this to a fellowship, where the field work carried out at Kenauk can be continued at Vassar at the ecological preserve, seems like a winning combination.”

Woman kneeling in the dirt planting on a farm
Keri Van Camp, Director of the 500-acre Preserve at Vassar.
Photo: Karl Rabe

Rubbo and Keri Van Camp, Director of the 500-acre Preserve at Vassar, said they were looking forward to working with the Kenauk Institute and with the recipient of the fellowship. “The experience gained by this Fellow is bound to enable us to expand our horizons and help us think of new ways to do things here,” Rubbo said.

Portrait of a woman in front of a fog covered lake.
Kenauk Executive Director Liane Nowell.
Photo: Karl Rabe

Van Camp said that while the two nature preserves were different in many ways, “both of us are doing similar work, and this partnership will help both institutions improve what they do and enhance our outreach to the community.”

Kenauk Executive Director Liane Nowell said she looked forward to hosting the first Kenauk-Vassar Fellow. “Tamar and Patrick have a long-standing relationship with Kenauk, and it’s been great working with Vassar on this initiative,” Nowell said.”

Tim Kane, Vassar’s Vice President of Advancement, said the College was grateful to the Pichette family for funding the fellowship. “We are thrilled to be able to match the Pichette family’s deep commitment to the Kenauk Institute and conservation with the work of Vassar’s ecological preserve in order to provide young alums with an opportunity to have hands-on experience in conservation techniques and education,” Kane said.

January 23, 2023
Campus Initiatives