Environmental Stewardship

Place-Based Environmental Education

Rowland Hall is dedicated to the promise of an environmentally responsible culture within our school and the larger community.

We encourage all community members to engage in educational experiences that foster a deep understanding of our interdependent relationships with nature. As a result, we strive to identify, initiate, and implement projects and curriculum to increase environmental awareness and stewardship.

Utah Society for Environmental Education recognizes Rowland Hall as a platinum-level member of Utah Green Schools. This initiative aims to promote sustainable practices in school facilities and curricula.

Sustainability Milestones

2006: The Upper School begins offering a sustainability class.

2008: A school-wide recycling program and idle-free policy is rolled out. An E.E. Ford Foundation grant provides three-year funding for a director of sustainability.

2009: Students raise funds towards composting efforts with Environs Club dinner. Lighting is retrofitted with energy-efficient bulbs.

2010: A $10,000 grant is awarded by Rio Tinto for an earth tub. Solar panels are installed on McCarthey Campus. Composting efforts begin at McCarthey Campus.

2011: Composting efforts begin at Lincoln Street Campus. Earth tub is installed at McCarthey Campus. Utah Society for Environmental Education honors Rowland Hall with Platinum Award in Sustainability.

2012: Rowland Hall wins Utah Recycling Alliance's Innovative Path to Zero Award.

2013: The Steiner Campus community gardens are built and opened. The school hosts Japanese educators for Sustainable Development Program.

2014: Ongoing environmental education is offered in the curriculum of all divisions.

2015: Rowland Hall joins inversion-mitigation initiative in Salt Lake City.

2016: McCarthey HVAC recommissioning project is completed. Upper and middle schoolers win Shane McConkey EcoChallenge $6,000 grand prize and endow fund for student sustainability projects. Electric-vehicle chargers are installed in the parking lot near the Steiner Campus soccer field, funded via the nonprofit Leaders for Clean Air and the Utah Governor’s Office of Energy Development.

Platinum-Level Member

Ryan Hoglund with beginning schooler.

Ryan Hoglund
Director of Ethical Educationget to know Ryan

Sustainability Stories in Fine Print Magazine

Claire Wang in front of US Capitol
Winged Lions on the Rise—title page graphic featuring six alumni.

Editor's note: this is one of six profiles republished from Rowland Hall's 2018–2019 Annual Report feature story, "Winged Lions on the Rise." Millennial alumni are finding their voices and already shaping their fields and communities—from physics to film, music to medical innovations, and environmental policy to conservation-minded real estate. Learn how Rowland Hall impacted them, and how they’re impacting the world. From left, Jared Ruga ’06, Claire Wang ’15, Phinehas Bynum ’08, Jeanna Tachiki Ryan ’01, Tyler Ruggles ’05, and Sarah Day ’06.

In her daily fight against climate change, Claire Wang’s weapons of choice include her bicycle, travel utensils, and reusable water bottle.

But the 21-year-old’s real arsenal is her character: her empathy, intellect, and contagious optimism that she wields to mobilize peers, negotiate with institutions, and drive environmental progress locally and nationally. Now, Rowland Hall’s first Rhodes Scholar graduates to the global stage.

There’s no choice but to be hopeful. We have a collective obligation to keep working towards a better future. Giving up would be a selfish act.—Claire Wang ’15

In Claire, the daunting problem of climate change finds a formidable opponent: the former nationally ranked Rowland Hall debater loves what she does and refuses to be discouraged. “There’s no choice but to be hopeful,” she said. “We have a collective obligation to keep working towards a better future. Giving up would be a selfish act.”

Claire was always interested in science and environmentalism; after coming to Rowland Hall in seventh grade, relevant curriculum furthered her interest in climate advocacy, while debate turned her into a policy wonk. In high school, she started volunteering for Utah Clean Energy through a school connection. “That was the moment I realized that I love this work and I want to do it for a living,” Claire said. “Rowland Hall was really supportive of that.” As a senior, she co-organized a press conference—held at the McCarthey Campus and covered by local news outlets—advocating against new fees on solar panels. And just before she finished high school, the Sierra Club asked her to help plan a national youth-led movement for renewable energy.

Claire Wang speaks with a broadcast news reporter at a 2015 press conference on solar panels, held at Rowland Hall.

Claire graduated as valedictorian and accepted a full ride to Duke University, where she majored in environmental science and policy. As a freshman, she worked with college administrators to secure Duke’s official support for renewable-energy policy reform. Then, Duke Energy—a large utility company unaffiliated with the university—announced plans to build a natural-gas plant on the university’s campus. It was the first of eight small-scale gas plants planned for the Carolinas. Claire spent two years fighting the campus plant proposal, and the university suspended the plans in spring 2018. Since then, none of the other North Carolina plants have entered the planning process. “Turning the tide early with the first plant ended up being really impactful,” Claire said.

Claire thrived in community campaigns at Duke and beyond—she even won prestigious Truman and Udall Scholarships in recognition of her work—and envisioned a career in national policy. But a 2018 study-abroad program on climate change and the politics of food, water, and energy spurred a shift. She visited a hydroelectric dam in Vietnam, and an ethnic-minority community displaced because of that dam. She also learned about how extreme weather impacts farmers, from drought in Bolivia to hail in Morocco. Now, Claire wants to reduce financing for fossil-fuel infrastructure, especially in developing countries. “We're not going to be able to achieve a livable climate future without cutting those back,” she said.

Eschew the conventional belief that salaries define successful careers. “Instead, focus on the impact you have on the world,” Claire said. “What you do with your life is not just a job—it’s a legacy.”

That global perspective drove Claire to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship—the oldest award for international study, covering graduate school at England’s University of Oxford. When she learned she’d been selected, Claire was elated, but incredulous. “It was a mix of nervousness, excitement, pride, and a general sense of, ‘Wait, did this actually happen?’”

Claire will be at Oxford for two years, starting with a one-year master’s in environmental change and management. She expects to land in policy, perhaps working for the government or an international group. Regardless, she’ll be doing work that’s meaningful to her, and she encourages other young people to follow suit: eschew the conventional belief that salaries define successful careers. “Instead, focus on the impact you have on the world,” she said. “What you do with your life is not just a job—it’s a legacy.”

Top photo: Claire in front of the United States Capitol. Over the summer, Claire interned with the Natural Resources Defense Council as part of the Truman Scholars' Summer Institute.


Sarah Day near fence with Montana mountains in background
Winged Lions on the Rise—title page graphic featuring six alumni.

Editor's note: this is one of six profiles republished from Rowland Hall's 2018–2019 Annual Report feature story, "Winged Lions on the Rise." Millennial alumni are finding their voices and already shaping their fields and communities—from physics to film, music to medical innovations, and environmental policy to conservation-minded real estate. Learn how Rowland Hall impacted them, and how they’re impacting the world. From left, Jared Ruga ’06, Claire Wang ’15, Phinehas Bynum ’08, Jeanna Tachiki Ryan ’01, Tyler Ruggles ’05, and Sarah Day ’06.

Sarah Day loved her bucolic childhood spent mostly on a 3,000-acre cattle ranch just outside of Bozeman, Montana.

Her family ran a calf-cow operation with 350 cattle and a supporting cast of horses, dogs, and barn cats. “Every day revolved around stewarding the land and the animals,” she said, explaining she took notice as adults around her fixed fences, moved cows, and farmed the land. “I carried that with me.”

Rowland Hall taught me to think about how I can give back and how to take action.—Sarah Day ’06

Her family sold the ranch in 2001, and since then, it’s been rezoned for residential development and broken up into smaller parcels. That change—plus Bozeman’s location in one of the nation’s fastest-growing counties—means housing may be in the former ranch’s future. “It's a little heartbreaking,” Sarah said. “It wasn’t the intention when we sold it.” But Sarah’s not one to sit on the sidelines. The alumna said her nine years at Rowland Hall encouraged her to prioritize community involvement. “Rowland Hall taught me to think about how I can give back,” she said, “and how to take action.” So she asked herself what she could do to protect Bozeman’s open lands—maybe even her family’s former ranch—in the future.

Sarah has been a sales associate for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Montana Properties just since June 2018. She earned a bachelor’s in economics from Connecticut College and a master’s in accounting from Montana State University, then worked in accounting and fundraising. She sought a career shift after a continuing-education accounting class on conservation easements struck a chord with her. The Montana Association of Land Trusts (MALT) hosted the class for accountants, lawyers, real estate agents—anyone who might work on conservation easements, voluntary legal agreements that protect landowners’ properties from future development. Thanks in part to MALT and its member organizations championing such easements, Montana is a leader in open-space preservation. 

MALT’s class heightened Sarah’s interest in becoming a real estate agent—a career her beloved late father introduced her to—but only if she could leverage her city’s economic success to advocate land protection. She knew of a local firm donating a profit percentage to animal shelters, and figured she could do that with conservation. “It just started to click,” she said. So Sarah made the career jump, and now gives 10% of her commissions to local land trusts. It felt amazing to write her first donation check in early 2019, she said. And she’s not only giving cash to the cause—she’s also giving time, as a member of Gallatin Valley Land Trust’s NextGen Advisory Board, a group of young professionals fostering advocacy among their peers.

Sarah gives 10% of her commissions to local land trusts. She’s also giving time as a member of Gallatin Valley Land Trust’s NextGen Advisory Board, a group of young professionals fostering advocacy among their peers.

In the long term, Sarah hopes to work with clients interested in contributing to conservation. For now, she’s content to grow her business and promote Bozeman’s outdoors via her volunteerism, philanthropy, and simple gestures such as handing out trail maps at open houses. Naturally, she and husband Ian Kirby also take advantage of the town’s 80-mile trail system. They favor one loop on Drinking Horse Mountain, shaded by trees and overlooking the valley. It’s gorgeous, Sarah said, and at the trail’s bottom, their Border Collie and Corgi mix, Gear—so named after Ian’s job as a mechanic—likes to splash around in a creek. “Outdoor therapy is a real thing,” she said. “It puts everything in perspective.” And Sarah is working to ensure Bozemanites will always be able to get that perspective from their own backyards.

Top: Sarah Day ’06 on Peet’s Hill, one of her favorite Bozeman trails. (Photo by Troy Meikle)


Caroline Gleich ’03 Makes a Career Out of Conquering the Wasatch, and Beyond

Caroline Gleich ’03 is a queen of the majestic playground that is the Wasatch Range.

She runs it, climbs it, bikes it, skis it—and fights to preserve it. She recently received accolades for being the first woman and fourth person to ski all 90 lines listed in The Chuting Gallery, a backcountry-skiing guide to the Wasatch. And Outside lauded her for taking activism seriously. Caroline's skill, tenacity, and positivity have attracted the attention of popular outdoor brands: she's sponsored by Patagonia, REI, Clif Bar, Specialized, Snowbird, Alta Ski Area, and more. She's carved out a career doing what she loves. She visited Rowland Hall's Lincoln Street Campus during Earth Week to tell middle and upper schoolers they can do the same.

Caroline moved with her family to Salt Lake City from Minnesota at age 15 and attended Rowland Hall for her junior and senior years of high school. She later graduated magna cum laude from the University of Utah with a bachelor's degree in anthropology. Though Caroline was a Winged Lion for just two years, she told current middle schoolers Rowland Hall had a lasting impact on her: "You guys are lucky to be at this school," she said during an April 20 assembly led by Protect Our Winters. "I learned a ton about environmental activism from being a student here. It really inspired me."

Leading up to her Lincoln Street visit, Fine Print chatted with Caroline about her time at Rowland Hall and her career as a mountaineer.

This Q&A has been edited for context and length.

What are your fond memories of Rowland Hall?

It was really different than my other high school. At Rowland Hall, they thought it was weird when I asked for a hall pass to go to the bathroom. Everybody looked at me like I was crazy. I wasn't used to having so much freedom. I came from a Catholic high school, so I really enjoyed learning about other religions, like Buddhism, and celebrating all the different holidays, like Ramadan. And I really liked Interim and winter sports Fridays.

How did your two years at Rowland Hall impact you as a person?

It was nice to be treated like an adult and to have so much freedom. Another thing I vividly remember is reading Canaries on the Rim in my English class, and we had the author come in and speak to us. It's all about Utah's tragic history of environmental abuse. When I moved here, I was shocked to see strip mining and mountaintop removal so close to where everybody lives on the Wasatch Front. In the Midwest, where I grew up, any mountain of that size would be a treasure because there are no mountains there. In my geography class, we watched the movie Chinatown and learned about water issues in Utah and the West. I was already of the mindset that nature needs to be protected, and so I became a serious environmentalist.

What's your tie to Protect Our Winters?

I've been part of their rider's alliance since 2011. They have a network of athletes who are committed to fighting climate change.

You're out and about a lot for work. How has climate change tangibly impacted your career, if at all?

In a lot of different ways. On my international ski-mountaineering trips, climate change is making the mountains of the world more dangerous because the glaciers are receding. As they recede, they're exposing unstable glacial moraines that are a total beast to navigate. It leads to dangerous rock fall, ice fall, and avalanches. In Utah, we're seeing warming temperatures, and more rain instead of snow. In the spring, it's getting hotter sooner. So instead of having a nice gradual melt, we're getting big runoffs with dangers of flooding. That's projected to increase over the next couple of decades. And you have to be careful when talking about this, because weather is not climate. You can't take a freak weather event and attribute it to climate change. But the trends are in line with what climatologists are predicting. And at least one expert predicts if we continue to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, by 2100 we'll have no snow in Utah.

You're visiting Rowland Hall for Earth Day. What do you want our current students to know? What would've stuck with you at that age?

One of the cool things about doing these presentations is showing students you can make a career doing what I do—a career based on outdoor adventure, exploration, and mountaineering. That part is really fun to talk about. So I hope to open their minds to that spirit of entrepreneurship and their ability to become what they want to become even if it's untraditional. The second part is to talk about climate change, what I've seen with it, and how it's affecting my industry. And third, to mobilize them to become future climate leaders for our country and world.

You just know when you're doing the thing that you're supposed to do—it's instinctual.

What made you seek out a career in this?

There's not one single thing. When you're doing something you weren't meant to do, it's obvious. I never felt like I fit in anywhere and it would be hard for me to work in an office. I guess it's still a deep human need that I have. It's also process of elimination. I tried doing other things. You just know when you're doing the thing that you're supposed to do—it's instinctual.

What else did you try?

I thought about becoming a politician. I still might want to do that someday. I did an internship for the environmental advisor to Governor Gary Herbert for a summer, and I did an internship with Skiing magazine as a journalist. More young people and women need to run for public office, and maybe that's something I'll do in the future. I don't know if I'd ever win, but you never know! I always wanted to be an athlete and I was too old to do Rowmark when I moved to Utah—it wasn't the right time in life. Right now, I'm happy to be an athlete. I feel like I have more ability to change the world and try to bring awareness to these issues with my voice as an athlete in the outdoor industry than by going down that governmental path.

What is a typical work week like for you?

I work for myself and I'm always balancing different projects. I keep things moving forward through a lot of emails and blogs, and I edit photos and work on content production. Right now I spend a lot of time researching the weather and forecasting avalanches. Avalanche safety is a huge part of what I do. I am obsessed with weather and I check it incessantly so I can predict when and where the best skiing is, make a plan for our crew, and coordinate the details with everyone.

What's one of the coolest adventures you've been on?

One of my favorite things relating to this is when I go lobbying with Protect Our Winters in Washington, DC. We meet with our congresspeople and talk about the kinds of things that we're seeing and what kind of legislation we'd like them to support. That's super fun. I've been participating in a lot of the recent marches. I always like a good rally—it's a big adrenaline rush. I also love the Wasatch. I've been skiing all these outrageous lines here. I've skied in Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Italy, Slovenia...my international trips are all really fun.

What's one proud moment of your career so far?

In 2015 I planned and executed an expedition for me and a partner where we climbed and skied three 19,000-foot peaks in Peru.

What did you learn from that?

When we got there, conditions were still really wintery. So we ended up redoing our itinerary, backing off some of the bigger lines that we wanted to ski, and taking some more moderate routes that were safer. And after we'd decided not to go up one of these mountains, three Estonian climbers died on it. It was a lesson to back off if you're unsure. It's easy for people to talk about stories of success, but it's a lot harder to talk about backing off.

What advice do you have for anyone who's thinking about doing what you do?

Trust your instincts. Learn to be very self-aware. The biggest risk is death or serious injury. If there's something that's not quite right, don't be afraid to speak up and back off.


Middle and Upper Schoolers Rally for Clean Air at State Capitol

Students Channel Air-Quality Curriculum While Exercising First Amendment Rights

Seventh-grader Ava Erickson stood behind a podium on the steps of the Utah Capitol and brandished a blue and white surgical mask. She addressed hundreds of peers from Rowland Hall and other local independent schools assembled for the third annual Utah Students for Clean Air Rally January 26.

“See this mask?” she unfalteringly asked the crowd on the below-freezing morning. “I had to wear one of these to school every day for four years. That was how bad the air quality was when I lived in China. I don’t want Utah to end up like China.”

Ava, who’s new to Rowland Hall this school year, said she has friends in China who developed asthma and lung cancer due to pollution. The American Lung Association ranks the Salt Lake area the sixth-worst city in the country for short-term particle pollution. But Ava and her classmates who spoke at the rally expressed optimism that individuals can make a positive difference in Utah’s air quality.

“By doing tiny, small things like not idling your cars, turning your thermostat down, and even just taking the bus, you are helping prevent pollution,” she said. “Every time you do something small to help our air quality, you could be helping save someone’s life.”

Ava and a dozen other Rowland Hall middle and upper schoolers took to the podium at the Capitol. The teachers who organized the event asked student speakers to answer this question: what can students do to improve the quality of air in our valley?

Like Ava, speakers trumpeted practical tips: walk, bike, carpool, take public transportation, ensure homes are energy efficient, avoid burning wood as a heat source, unplug unused appliances, and turn off lights when you leave rooms.

The entire Rowland Hall Middle School attended the rally, along with Ben Smith’s Upper School environmental science class. In sixth grade, air quality is part of the curriculum. Sixth graders study, record, and analyze air quality in Molly Lewis’ science class—read more in this February 2016 Fine Print article.

Indeed, Rowland Hall student speakers such as senior Marguerite Tate discussed the science behind poor air quality and the significance of PM2.5, or fine particulate matter with diameters less than 2.5 micrometers. “It’s small enough to get anywhere in your lungs,” Marguerite said. “It affects everyone—it doesn’t matter if you don’t have asthma or if you don’t have problems breathing.” Beyond giving students the opportunity to speak publicly about a scientific topic they’ve studied, the rally gave middle and upper schoolers a chance to practice their First Amendment right to peaceful assembly.

The rally, sixth-grader Aileen Robles said, let students speak for Utahns who want clean air but can’t necessarily take the time to lobby for it. “We also learned how much people care about this, and how much it has to be pushed, and how our voices need to be heard,” she said.

In a post-rally discussion, some of Molly's students asked how much of a difference an individual can make on topics such as local air quality. Sixth-grader Kate Brague chimed in on the value of leadership: if there’s one person “willing to take the reins,” more people will follow, she said. And if student activism falls short, Molly reminded her sixth graders that when they turn 18, they gain the right to vote. Later, they can even run for office. “You can be the change,” the teacher said.

Media coverage of Rowland Hall at the Utah Students for Clean Air Rally


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