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Grace Thomas ’17 assists Glimmerglass Opera with sustainability

By ramann on June 28, 2016
This post was written by Grace Thomas ’17

I was drawn to the Field School program at the Upstate Institute this summer because of the unique opportunity it offers to blend the workplace environment and research.  Initially, I was unsure whether I wanted to have an internship in a corporate office, or if I wanted to complete on-campus research.  The Field School is a wonderful compromise.  Additionally, I am very drawn to the Upstate New York region; there are so many fantastic not-for-profit initiatives occurring in this area, especially during the gorgeous summer months.

Grace Thomas '17 and Bob Sutherland at Mohican Farms

Grace Thomas ’17 and Bob Sutherland at Mohican Farms

I have the opportunity to be working at The Glimmerglass Opera Festival in Cooperstown, New York this summer, one of the largest seasonal opera festivals in the country.  Glimmerglass hosts over 300 summer employees, and welcomes over 40,000 visitors for four main operatic performances.  My task for the summer is to assess the ways in which the festival can become more sustainable in order to use resources and funding more efficiently, attract visitors interested in sustainability and to protect the beautiful natural environment in which the festival is located.

My experience at Glimmerglass has been wonderful; no day is the same, and I have a lot of freedom in creating my schedule.  I might begin a day traveling with the company chef to Wellington’s Herbs and Spices to meet his produce suppliers in the morning, replant an herb garden in the afternoon, and end the day in the office investigating the amount of waste the festival is discarding.  My main focus for the summer is to research waste, water and electricity usage at the dozen properties Glimmerglass operates during the summer.  However, my goals also include bringing attention to sustainability at the festival, which allows for a number of side projects to increase awareness.  I plan on implementing composting, as taught to me by Bob Sutherland of Mohican Farms.

The staff at Glimmerglass are exciting to work with.  I spend my days surrounded by individuals who are finding chickens to be used in the production of La Boheme, emailing Stephen Sondheim, all with a television displaying the activities on the theater stage to my left.   These individuals are creative, talented, and have shown immense excitement about running their operations responsibly in respect to the environment.  Above all, my goal is to continue to excite the Glimmerglass staff about sustainability, and to set the foundation for choices the company can make in the future.


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