Afternoon Presenters


Ray Dube – What does your Recycling turn into?
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This session will highlight the materials that the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England recycles on a day-to-day basis and will explore how local businesses use those recycled commodities by showing examples of products made from them.  A discussion of recycled household products will reveal what they can turn into as well.

Ray has spent the last 25 years working for a franchise bottler of Coca-Cola doing everything from loading and driving trucks to working in sales and in the financial department.  Most recently he has served as the company’s Sustainability Manager, overseeing commodity sales, recycling and education to schools and to the general  public.  Ray graduated from NH College in 2000 with a Bachelors degree in Business, Finance and Economics as well as a certificate in Sustainability for the University of NH in 2014.

Helen Strom-Olsen – DHSc – “Just a Girl…” : The Role of Girls and Women in Global Issues.
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How can education for girls and women reduce poverty and influence global health?

The goal of this presentation is to make students aware of injustices against girls and women in regions of the world as well as to surface the roles that those girls and women can play in the fight against poverty, infectious disease, and social injustices throughout the world. This session will stress the importance of gender equality in education and of fair economic and social opportunities for women in every region in order to positively impact global health, world economics, and future generations. Recommendations for student action will be generated and discussed.

Helen Strom-Olsen completed her Doctor of Health Sciences degree at A.T. Still University with a concentration in Global Health. She also holds additional degrees in Human Movement and Sports Medicine. Helen’s professional background is rooted in preventative health and fitness promotion. She worked in the fitness industry more than 10 years, specializing in functional wellness in geriatric populations. Helen lives in Wallingford, Vermont with her husband and young son, and she works at Castleton University, instructing in the Allied Health Sciences department. Her professional interests, volunteer services, and research all concern disease prevention and promotion of health for all.

Taborri Bruhl – The Exciting Future of Electric Vehicles
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Electric vehicles are amazing! Many are available today, and each year their capabilities just keep growing. But more importantly, in the future the entire transportation system will revolve around electric vehicles, and this will play a critical role in how humans will be able to live sustainably on the planet. Taborri Bruhl is an owner of two electric vehicles, and he is knowledgeable about electrical grids and sustainability issues—join him as he discusses how these three seemingly-unrelated things will all come together in the future to play a huge role in all of our lives. The presentation will include videos of electric vehicle manufacturing and performance today (come see clips of a Tesla P85-D in “Ludicrous” mode!).

Taborri Bruhl lives in rural New Haven, Vermont, with his wife, three children, and two dogs in a net-zero house powered by solar and wind. Taborri is a former Marine Corps officer, and holds a bachelors degree in history and journalism from Texas A&M University and a masters degree in history from California State University. He teaches history, economics, and government at the high school level, and is on the board of directors for the Acorn Renewable Energy Co-op in Addison County, VT.

Kiran Waqar, Ali Barritt, Dina Alsaffar, Lena Ginawi – The Next Generation Today: What Youth Can Do Today to Affect Tomorrow.
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As we learn about the world we draw conclusions. We learn about crises but are rarely told how to make a change. This session will look at the statewide Syrian Winter Clothing and Blanket Drive run by four South Burlington High School students. They will share their failures and successes and explain the steps they took. Participants will learn about the importance of advertisement, accessibility, teamwork and more! Students should leave inspired and feeling confident that they, too, can make a difference.

Kiran coordinates donations for the Children’s Hospital and was the leader of the team that ran the statewide Syrian Winter Clothing and Blanket Drive. She also participates in the Coalition for Community Service and ISVT Youth Group. She was recognized as a State Honoree for the Prudential Spirit of the Community Award and will also be recognized in Washington DC. Kiran is a chapter officer for DECA, and has received 3rd overall in Business Law and Ethics and 1st in Hospitality in state competitions with her teammates.

Ali is a member of Coalition for Community Service, Key Club, and the school’s new club Student Diversity Union.  She has participated in Parents & Adults Celebrating Teens (PACT), and created a club called Podcast Club where members discuss current events and record the sessions for rebroadcast.

Lena was a partner in the successful blanket drive for Syrians, which represents her interest in solving complex global issues. She strives for a sense of purpose in her work and finds fulfillment in offering support and relief to those who are most affected by these challenging global issues.

Dina has been involved in the Weekend Islamic School that takes place every Sunday and where she teaches students about Islam and the Arabic language.  She enjoys sharing her knowledge in order to make connections and to alleviate misunderstandings across cultures.

Todd Kowalczyk – Today’s Energy Revolution
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Energy is fundamental to our lives and to the modern day world. The seeds of an energy revolution have been planted.  Developed and emerging nations are starting to replace carbon-intensive fossil fuels, which contribute to global warming and air pollution, with energy that is harvested from renewable energy sources like solar and wind. But can this revolution truly take hold and will it grow? What is the role of the United States in this important transition? What are the challenges to move to clean, renewable energy sources that have positive and enduring impacts? This presentation will explore today’s energy landscape, emerging technologies and trends and will offer examples of how each of us can contribute in meaningful ways to the energy revolution.

Green Mountain Power, Rutland, VT

Todd is a skier, runner, a senior project manager at Green Mountain Power in Rutland, VT and the chair of Killington’s Energy Committee who is committed to creating a cleaner, greener energy landscape.

James Ehlers – Sewage, Algae, Dead Fish – Something Stinks in Lake Champlain
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Challenges to fisheries and to a clean, safe water supply are not only present in the developing world. We have to continuously advocate for our water sources here in Vermont too. What happens when storm water overflows our streets and fields? Do you think it affects your drinking water? Have you heard about the fish kills and about people getting sick on Vermont lakes?  Are you aware that there have been breaches to the safe water in Rutland? It’s your water, your town, your health, your future.  Citizens can get involved as stewards for clean water resources. Join this session to learn about the issues affecting Vermont’s water, fish, and beaches – and what you and your friends can do about it.

Since 1999 James has served as the executive director of Lake Champlain International, a highly visible organization engaged in a region-wide effort to assert that clean water supports vibrant, sustainable economies and benefits people of all backgrounds.  He has also served as a freelance columnist, a middle school science teacher, and has provided instruction for ecology and outdoor programs for the State of Vermont, local colleges, schools and parks. James has been invited to the White House to consult with advisers on public policy, and earned the prestigious EPA Environmental Merit Award.

Rula Moradi – Middle East; Oil, Power and Chaos
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The first step toward addressing global issues is to understand and identify a way to enter the issues. The problems are complex. There are also many different perspectives. Some are driven by fear and misunderstanding. Often we become distracted from focusing on the most pressing challenges due to misinformation. For the foreseeable future the Middle East will continue to be a major player in the world economy, in part due to its vast resources and strategic location. Dependence on and competition for these resources persists. Having a better understanding of the region will help us navigate, economically, politically and environmentally. This session offers an expanded perspective of Iran from a former native.

Rula was born and raised in Abadan, Iran which is located right on the Persian Gulf and close to the border with Iraq. Abadan was the home for the largest oil refinery in the world at the time and had grown to become one of the largest cities in Iran. Rula’s family used to spend summers in Shiraz, Iran due to Abadan’s excessive summer heat and humidity. Shiraz was a beautiful mountainous and culturally rich city and was the capital of the Old Persian Empire of Cyrus and Darius, over 2,500 years ago. Shiraz is famous for its beautiful gardens, great poets and a city where Muslims and Jewish communities have lived and flourished together for centuries. Rula originally came to the United States to be educated and was to return to be a leader in Iran. However, through a series of events he ended up remaining.  He entered the workforce after completing an advanced degree in electrical engineering.

Cathy Archer – Theater as an agent of Change
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Can theatre change the opinions of an audience about a particular issue and inspire them to take action?

This “Theatre of the Oppressed” session will use games to engage the audience and to create “scenes” about subjects which the audience chooses. These scenes are generally about an issue that the audience wants to understand better or influence.. In addition to any topics proposed by the audience, this session will address the topic of bullying. In Theatre of the Oppressed the audience becomes involved and may even become actors changing the scene as they understand/see the problem. We will play some games which will lead us to develop a scene which will-in turn—be shaped by other participants.

As a 30 year veteran teacher of theatre in Vermont Cathy has presented workshops at festivals in CT, Maine, Nebraska and Vermont. She is convinced and committed to the idea that theatre can affect positive change through productions of plays which address issues concerning the human experience and the world.

Traci Moore – Project VISION: The Positive Power of Collaboration in our Community
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What are the consequences of substance abuse for a community? How can substance abuse be addressed and reduced in Rutland County?  What services need to be in place?

Rutland’s Project VISION Substance Abuse Prevention & Treatment committee has implemented goals and objectives to help reduce substance abuse in Rutland County. This session will explain how community collaboration is helping to improve awareness, and communication about substance abuse issues in Rutland.

Project VISION is a community wide effort with more than 200 volunteer members working in a variety of areas to make Rutland a safer and happier place to in which to live, work, visit and play.

Tracie has been an active member of Rutland’s Project VISION, currently serving as the volunteer Chair of the Substance Abuse Prevention & Treatment committee.  She is also a Senior Development Officer at the Rutland Health Foundation, the fundraising department of Rutland Regional Medical Center. She manages donations to enhance and expand services, upgrade and renovate facilities, and develop or support programs that enhance the lives of patients. Traci has over twenty years of experience in the nonprofit sector, most recently, as the Executive Director of the United Way of Rutland County. She has also served at the Vermont Achievement Center and the alumni & development office at Bennington College.

Peter Lynch – Youth Green International: a Virtual Network
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How can youth connect around the world to share their cultures and ideas about natural resource management?

Green Across the World has developed a web platform called Youth Green International to encourage schools and other youth groups to connect around culture and environment. With our support, you are in control of the projects that you want to engage in. This workshop will introduce you to the platform and provide you with an opportunity to play with it and see if you can connect with others. (When registered for this session you will be issued a username and password) It is important to bring a laptop or other device to connect to the site during the workshop.

Once students have an account on the platform, they can enter into topical environmental and cultural discussion and projects with a growing number of others indefinitely. High quality group work will be made public and may influence policy in different regions.

Peter serves as the President and founding Executive Director of Green Across the World, Inc. GATW seeks to improve cultural and environmental awareness and cooperation around the world by organizing Youth Environmental Leadership exchanges. Peter taught science in both public and private high schools for two decades. While on a biology field trip to South China in 1996, Peter met with School Officials at the Affiliated High School of South China Normal University in Guangzhou, China, and it was decided to begin an exchange program. Through two decades of work, this exchange has developed into a highly successful study of environmental issues for Chinese and North American students. GATW partners with the Rubenstein School of Environment & Natural Resources at the University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, where Peter is a summer instructor. GATW has expanded activities to Tottori Prefecture, Japan, Bhutan, Kenya, Senegal, Puerto Rico, Thailand, Peru and Nova Scotia.

Carolyn Crowley Meub – Clean Water is Medicine
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The consequences of the global water crisis are brutal. One child dies every minute due to  consuming unsafe water. These deaths need not occur as the technology exists to provide everyone with clean, safe drinking water and good hygiene education.  This presentation will discuss some of the solutions available to eliminate waterborne diseases in rural communities in developing countries.

Carolyn has made a successful career in public relations as well as in events and organizational management. Her work has also included special events planning,  managing political campaigns and fundraising. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Pure Water for the World, Inc., a not-for-profit organization, started by the Brattleboro, Vermont Rotary Club in 1999. Under her leadership, Pure Water for the World has grown from a Rotary Club project to an effective non-governmental organization working in Haiti and in Central America. It is no surprise that Carolyn was recognized by the White House in 2012 as one of ten Rotary Champions of Change as a result of her contributions.

Selina Petschek, Andrea Tapia, Adityajit Kang, Ivett Martinez – GANAS: Bringing Together Scattered Migrant Latino Communities
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GANAS is a community-driven, cross-cultural association that provides students with volunteer opportunities to engage with the predominantly undocumented Latino migrant worker population. There are unique challenges in the context of working with the migrant Latino community in Southwestern Rural Vermont. Our group has been trying to overcome these obstacles and establish a program that attempts to ease the transition process of starting a new life in the United States.

Tom LaPointe – Fluoride in our water; Is it necessary?
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Molly Pfenning – Alzheimer’s disease
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Anna Smiechowski – Language and Personalities
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Alex Parker – Hiding Behind a User Name

Noah Tanen – Neo Colonialism in Haiti and Pure Water for the World service
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Emma Macpherson – Depleted Fisheries
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Julian Portilla–Conflict prevention and resolution and peacekeeping around the world: three case studies.
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Alyssa Sabotka – Drug Addicted Babies
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Jordan DelBianco –Food for Thought: Is your Food eating you?
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Preston P. Garcia – The Human Microbiome and the Hygiene Hypothesis: Learn to respect your microbes
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Have we created a world where our ability to control global infectious diseases and human health has actually been impaired by our need to be “clean?”

Most people have a negative association with microbes, even though compared to all of the bacteria present on the earth, very few are actually harmful to humans. The National Institutes of Health funded the Human Microbiome Project with the goal of identifying and characterizing all of the microorganisms that are found on humans. We now know that our own cells are outnumbered by bacterial cells by a factor of 10 to 1, composed of more than 10,000 different species of bacteria. In addition, there has long been a theory called the “hygiene hypothesis” that explains a lack of early exposure to infectious agents and symbiotic bacteria can lead to increased allergies and to weakened immune system. In this session we will discuss why our microbes have been called the “forgotten organ” and how global health and the spread of diseases are better understood because of research into our microbiome. Many of our problems with global health lie not in eradication, but rather in how to live in balance with microorganisms.

Tanner Heath – The Ethics of Keeping Animals in Captivity
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Savannah Maroun – Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain
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This presentation looks at how emotions drive people’s decision making capabilities, whether it’s the choice of a pudding cup or to declare war. Understanding how decisions are made helps us know and predict human nature.

Kaylee Rankin – The Science of Poverty, Emotion, Reason and the Brain
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In recent years the “MakerSpace Movement” has grown throughout the United States. At one time many homes boasted a basement or garage workshop but as lifestyles have changed family entertainment centers and computers have taken their place. Today do-it-yourselfers have turned to public “maker spaces” for a place to work on projects. Rutland High School has recently incorporated its own Maker Room into the building. For this hands-on GIN Workshop students will visit the Maker Room and work on a project that repurposes discarded items: in this case, turning old tires into sandals. Participants will actually make a pair of sandals from a tire, just as some people in pre-industrialized countries do. Students may keep their sandals.

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