Green Oaks Students, Alumni, Friends Gather for Reunion

May 30, 2012

Green Oaks Reunion - Shepard Sculpture

Knox College alumni, students, faculty, and friends gathered at the college's Green Oaks Biological Field Station May 25-26 for a reunion celebrating Green Oaks Term, an immersive academic experience that many describe as life-changing.

Reunion events included:

  • The presentation of a sculpture honoring Paul Shepard, who was a Knox biology professor and director of Green Oaks from 1954 to 1964. He, along with fellow Knox professor George Ward, began the monumental task of restoring the land to its natural prairie habitat.
  • A tree-planting and dedication ceremony in memory of Anjalika Kapur '06, who participated in the 2004 Green Oaks Term.
  • The opening of a new prairie art installation by Tony Gant, Knox associate professor of art and a member of the Green Oaks Term faculty.
  • A picnic supper and barn dance.

In addition, Knox College President Teresa Amott recognized Green Oaks Term Director Jon Wagner for "10 years of dedication to the Green Oaks Term and all he's done for Green Oaks." Green Oaks Reunion - Amott and Wagner

She presented him with a certificate and a framed photograph of Lake Sharvy on the Green Oaks property. Wagner, Knox professor of anthropology, is stepping down as director of Green Oaks Term. (Photo at right: Jon Wagner, standing with Teresa Amott, displays his new photo of Lake Sharvy.)

Students in Green Oaks Term live and learn together at the Green Oaks Biological Field Station. They reside in Schurr Hall, sharing cooking and cleaning duties, and they also share an academic curriculum with interdisciplinary classes in natural history, art, and anthropology-sociology.

Speakers at the Shepard sculpture ceremony included his widow, Flo Shepard, and former longtime Knox faculty members Peter Schramm and Dewey Moore. The sculpture marks the Shepard Prairie, planted by Shepard and his students during his time at Knox.

Flo Shepard praised Knox students, alumni, faculty, and administrators for supporting Green Oaks.

"It is a unique and exemplary program in field-based environmental studies, as well as a marvelous example of restoration and dedication spanning a half-century," she said. Paul Shepard "would be so pleased to see how Green Oaks has thrived and the way it's been developed."

Several of Kapur's 2004 Green Oaks Term classmates attended the tree-planting ceremony in her memory. (Photo below right: Members of the Knox community install a marker for the newly planted tree in memory of Anjalika Kapur.)

"We wanted to acknowledge what she contributed to the program," said Steve Yasukawa '06, who now works in the education department of the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, Washington. Green Oaks Reunion - Tree Planting

"As a teacher, I'm teaching a lot of the same observational skills that I learned here," he said. "Green Oaks was the most meaningful experience I had through Knox."

Kelly Cadigan '05, a 2004 Green Oaks Term alumna, traveled from Maine for the reunion because of the strong connection she feels to Green Oaks and the friends she made there.

"You get immersed in your surroundings, within your community that you create," said Cadigan, who recently earned an MBA and now works for a home health care agency. "You feel a sense of ownership and stewardship for the land and the prairie."

Andrew Raridon '09, who traveled from Oklahoma for the reunion, participated in Green Oaks Term as a student in 2008 and as a program assistant in 2010.

"Jon's been talking about doing a reunion since our year in 2008," said Raridon, who is pursuing a master's degree in sociology. "I wasn't going to miss it."

"Part of (the appeal) is seeing the people from our year," he added. "Part of it is being here with all the other Oakies. It's great to see all the years together, and it's fascinating to hear everybody's stories."

Amott said she was "amazed to see how far people have come" to be part of the Green Oaks Reunion.

"I'm looking around at all of these people who've come back," she said. "It's a real testament to the transformative power of the Green Oaks Term and what happens here. It's a magical place."

(Photo at top of page: Peter Schramm, at left, with Flo Shepard and Dewey Moore at the new sculpture, created by Rachel Matson-Haynes, honoring Paul Shepard. Photos below at left: Visitors view and climb on Tony Gant's art installation, made from tree branches. Below at right: Scenes from the barn dance.)

Green Oaks Reunion - Art Installation Green Oaks Reunion - Barn Dance
Green Oaks Reunion - Art Installation Green Oaks Reunion - Barn Dance