By Carina Sorrentino
Since the construction of the Kelly Adirondack Center, Union has spent the last few years strengthening its ties to the nearby historically relevant Adirondacks. The college continued to do so with its second annual Adirondack Week.
From May 4 to May 8, Union hosted a variety of events to showcase its alliance with the Adirondack State Park, as well as the rich history the park has to offer.
The Adirondack State Park is a 6.1 million acre park that is home to a vast amount of plant and animal species in Upstate New York.
Several prominent Union graduates have gone on to help in the conservation of the Adirondacks, making the relationship between Union and the park mutually beneficial.
The Kelly Adirondack Center was formerly the home of conservationist Paul Schaefer, a former professor at Union.
Schaefer’s extensive research prompted the college to create the Adirondack Research Center, a compilation of his and other conservationists’ work on the region. Once held in Schaffer Library, the research center is now housed in Schaefer’s own former home.
Over the course of five days, Union did everything from bringing students on a hiking trip to bringing in a local chef who specializes in Adirondack cuisine.
On Sunday, a group of students hiked a three-mile trail up Prospect Mountain, from Lake George Village.
On Monday, the Adirondack Week Kick-Off Fair was held outside of Reamer, with various attractions for students. A rock-climbing wall offered a fun way for students to get physical and simulate the climbing experience. Live music was provided by acoustic performers who played violins and guitars.
An interesting attraction that drew in many students were the bird trainers from the Hudson-Mohawk Bird Club who were showing off some of the local wildlife. This included an owl and a hawk, both of which were impressive to see fly into the trees of Union’s landscape.
Held in the Kelly Adirondack Center was a presentation by Professor Jillmarie Murphy, entitled “Analeptic Sublime: Land Attachment and Attention Restoration in Joel Tyler Headley’s Adirondack; or, Life in the Woods.”
The following day, a guided tour through the Reist Sanctuary in Niskayuna was offered. The Reist Sanctuary is a 111-acre forest in Niskayuna that has also maintained a close relationship with Union through professor emeritus of ecology Carl George, who has done extensive field work exploring tree species of the site.
On Wednesday, Chef Stephen Topper visited Old Chapel and prepared three traditional Adirondack dishes with additional information from former curator of the Adirondack Museum Hallie Bond.
Both Bond and Topper explored the minimalist styles that have lent to the traditional foods of the area.
Bond explored the history of food from farms to hunting camps, using her knowledge on the Adirondack culture to weave connections between the region’s people and what they ate.
Chef Topper, a native to the Adirondack area, utilized farm-fresh ingredients. Topper’s family background provided him with the necessary tools to grow his own produce, as well as raise his own animals, creating a unique twist to modern cooking.
The week concluded with a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, with speakers Ed Zahniser and Chad Dawson. The Wilderness Act was written by Howard Zahniser in 1964 and preserved 9.1 million acres of land across America.
When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the act, he remarked, “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”
The week synthesized the arts, literature, food and even legislation into a presentation of the various cultural aspects connected to the Adirondack region.
Union’s continued relationship with the Kelly Adirondack Center will bring more recognition to the college of Upstate New York’s landmarks, in the coming years.