Guided by the mission to encourage care of God's creation, Nardin Academy has become a leader in school sustainability both in Western New York and nationally. As Nardin expands opportunities for students to engage with the world as stewards of the earth, Nardin leaders are carrying forward this mission as highly sought-after guest speakers and community partners in both sustainability and the future of school food.
Sharing best practices allows Nardin to inspire others to action and to continue to innovate and transform the community for students. This past November, Leslie Johnson, Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations, was invited to the National Ed Spaces Conference as guest speaker at a major session on "Envisioning the Future of School Food." The session was presented in collaboration with Nardin's consultant Greg Christian, CEO and Founder of Beyond Green Sustainable Partners; Karen Dittrich, Founder of Creatif Leaf Marketing; Sheila Palinkas, President of Foodservice Facility Designs by LMS Development, LLC.; and Melanie Smythe, President of Candacity, LLC.
National Ed Spaces Conference attendees who attended the session benefited from learning about new trends in sustainable food, proven processes of elevating school food programs, and how to engage the school community in the sustainable food journey.
Johnson has also been selected as one of the dynamic speakers at the Green Schools Conference and Expo in Atlanta, Georgia on March 21-22, 2017. The Green Schools Conference and Expo connects green school leaders nationwide for two days of learning and collaboration. This honor, as only 42 of the 130 proposals submitted for conference presentations were accepted, allows Nardin to carry forward its mission to other school communities across the nation. In addition to sharing the message at conferences, Nardin has invited school leaders to observe the sustainable program, which is now incorporated into the very DNA of the campus community.
Through her work as a council member for the Food Policy Council of Buffalo and Erie County, Chef Julie Levin is also inspiring change as she seeks to bring Nardin's healthy eating initiative and innovative dining program to community schools. The Food Policy Council is an advisory board that provides recommendations to local government on new and existing policies, presents information to residents, and leads the effort in creating a more equitable and sustainable food system. As part of education and outreach, the advisory board is currently canvasing K – 12 schools in Buffalo and Erie county to measure interest in incorporating the local food system and healthy food into school lunch as well as exploring potential peer-to-peer learning opportunities.
Nicole Capitumino, Nardin Academy's Green Coordinator, is currently participating in a coveted year-long Education for Sustainability Leadership Academy at Shelburne Farms, south of Burlington, Vermont. The Leadership Academy, limited to twelve education leaders, supports those who wish to inspire change in partnership with a peer network of educators, principals, and entrepreneurs. The unique viewpoints gained through this experience will allow Nardin to continue to integrate sustainability into the curriculum through project-based learning in collaboration with Nardin's faculty.
We are incredibly fortunate to have this kind of leadership within our community. As we work in tandem with other school leaders and sustainability partners locally and across the nation, Nardin leads the way to find the best approaches for all students to sustain and improve the world around them.