Thinking big while staying grounded
By Myra Saturen ,
Even in the fourth grade, Daniel Stevens knew the importance of conserving land and water; his first elementary school science-fair presentation focused on water preservation. Later on, at Salisbury High School, he used nanomanufacturing techniques to design water control surfaces. Now an honors student at Northampton Community College (NCC) and a volunteer in the College's East 40 Community Garden, Daniel continues to pursue ways to save water and land.
Recently, the Bethlehem Garden Club recognized Daniel's steadfast commitment to conservation with their annual scholarship. In a letter of recommendation for the scholarship, English Professor and founder of the College's East 40 Community Garden Kelly Allen says, "Dan's ability to think big and remain grounded have made him a force (a humble one) for change on our campus. He makes great things happen and inspires others around him to do the same." Allen also wrote about Daniel's voracious desire for knowledge.
An environmental science and biological science major, Daniel talks enthusiastically about sustainable agricultural. "There is not enough land for agriculture," he says. "If we destroy the environment, we won't have enough land or water. If we use land and water irresponsibly now, there will be less to use in the future."
Daniel immerses himself in preservation initiatives, both at the College and at home. At NCC, he is president of the Outdoors Club, vice president of the Science Club, and a member of the Sustainability Committee.
As a volunteer in NCC's East 40 Community Garden, he waters and harvests plants and helps take care of finances on the growers' weekly market days (Wednesdays, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.) Above all, he is relentless in his quest for a smart watering system for the garden's indoor growing operations. The garden is off-grid, and growers need to make efficient use of a limited water supply. "Dan saw this dilemma as an opportunity," Allen says, "and we have all learned a great deal from his pursuit of a solution."
At home, Daniel built and maintains an aquaponics system, a fish tank where he grows herbs, small carrots and peppers. The fish and plants work together to cultivate foods without the use of chemical fertilizers. "Aquaponics is more sustainable [than traditional agriculture]," he says. It saves land and uses less energy. Most plants can be grown this way."
Daniel has clear educational and career goals. He plans to transfer to Lafayette College in 2018 and to ultimately earn a master's degree in geophysics.
He foresees working in the western United States, where droughts regularly and frequently lower lake and streams levels. "I want to find a way to use water without endangering animals," he says. "Daniel is a truly unique individual who will continue to make notable contributions for years to come," Allen says.