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Hands-on with the liberal arts

It’s not hard for Caleb Smith ’17 to see how his Earlham education is working for him.

As the coordinator of the Richmond Farmers Market, he loves working with the community to promote the benefits of eating local. “On a personal level, I love getting to visit a wide variety of farms each year as I do farm visits with our vendors. I also deeply enjoy getting to work on events and projects with the Parks Departments.”

While his Environmental Studies major certainly provided him a core of knowledge to draw from, he also relies heavily on the hands-on skills and knowledge that Earlham provided.

“My job requires a lot of communication and public speaking, which I think Earlham prepared me for really well,” he says. “I also think that the way in which Earlham requires students to think about things from a holistic angle has helped me a lot in my position. I’m able to approach problems from an interdisciplinary perspective.

“I think the cross-disciplinary aspects of a liberal arts education are essential to being able to survive in the world/job market today.” His skills in writing, public speaking, history and policy are all used regularly.

Indeed, it was the range of classes and experiences he had at Earlham that helped him see that it was not just one thing that he like to do, but a lot. One of his favorite classes was Introduction to Geographical Information Systems (GIS), which exposed him to the world of spatial analysis. From this class, he realized there were entire careers that use these skills. And while at Earlham he would not have to wait to test out what he was learning. 

Smith was involved with Miller Farm, the student-run campus farm. “Miller Farm had to move locations my freshman year,” says Smith, “so I was able to be involved with the re-imagining process for the space, which was an interesting and challenging experience that lasted throughout my time at Earlham, and one that I learned a ton from.”

His Environmental Studies senior capstone project was working with the Richmond Parks Department to research and fund the installation of a new playground in Richmond for children with sensory processing disorders at a local park.

“This was an amazing learning experience, as we were fully immersed in the process of planning, fundraising, and all other elements of the project,” he says. Once again it was a hands-on project that demanded a lot from the students involved. The work paid off. It not only led to him helping raise more than a quarter of a million dollars, it was also instrumental in laying the groundwork for his current job.

Future plans include remaining in public service either in government or a non-profit.

“I'm looking into grad school programs in the areas of urban planning, environmental resiliency, geography and similar fields,” he says. “This is probably pointing me toward a job in city planning or something similar eventually.”

Caleb Smith

Caleb Smith 2017

Pronouns: He/him/his

Hometown: Pembroke, New Hampshire

Major at Earlham: Environmental Studies

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