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Aquarion Names Danbury's Goodall Center An Environmental Champion

WestConn Permaculture Garden Intern Ashley Kenney discusses beekeeping at a “Farm for Yourself” lecture presented by the Jane Goodall Center this spring.
WestConn Permaculture Garden Intern Ashley Kenney discusses beekeeping at a “Farm for Yourself” lecture presented by the Jane Goodall Center this spring. Photo Credit: Contributed/Peggy Stewart

DANBURY, Conn. — Western Connecticut State University’s Jane Goodall Center for Excellence in Environmental Studies was named a 2016 Environmental Champion by Aquarion Water at an awards ceremony last month at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo.

The public water supply company selected winners from entrants whose volunteer efforts have protected or improved Connecticut’s natural resources: air, water, soil, or plant and wildlife communities. Winners were determined in five categories: Adult, Youth, Small Business, Large Business and Nonprofit Organization. The Jane Goodall Center took the top prize in the Nonprofit category.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal presented the award. In an online description of the award recipients, the Aquarion website stated: “A new and unique partnership combining the academic and research prowess of Western Connecticut State University and The Jane Goodall Institute, the Center has done literally ground-breaking work through a focus on the interconnectivity of people, animals and the environment. … Last fall Jane Goodall traveled to the campus to visit her namesake institution and dedicate the [university’s Permaculture] garden. In front of an audience of 800 she expressed her delight at not just the sustainable garden but for the way the Western Connecticut campus has itself become a garden, nurturing sustainability practices throughout the area, and harvesting their many benefits.”

As a result of its selection, the center will receive a $2,500 award, which will be used to pay a garden intern, according to Laurie Weinstein, chair of the Jane Goodall Center.

“During the summer, we need help with the garden, but because it’s summer, you can’t count on enough students being around to help,” Weinstein said.

Intern Ashley Kenney not only manages the garden, but also works to involve students and the community in the permaculture movement. She solicits donations of live plants from local nurseries, created a series of “farm for yourself” lectures on campus that will continue next year, and organizes the campus and community volunteers who help maintain the garden’s crops. Among Kenney’s future plans for the garden are the acquisition of fruit trees.

“I’d like to build a fruit forest,” she said. “It would be great if someone could fund the purchase of two–year old peach and cherry trees so they are ready to fruit.”

For more information about Western’s Permaculture Garden and how to support it, visit

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