MaryBeth Smuts of the Environmental Protection Agency

Sustainability Fair Draws Hundreds to Campus

September 26, 2011
By: Worcester State University News

Several hundred students gathered at lectures, visited a vendor marketplace and shopped at a farmers’ market offered during the fourth annual Sustainability Fair Thursday, Sept. 22 at the Student Center.

Haiti Projects was a featured organization in the 4th Annual Sustainability Fair. Chantal Healey, their Director of US Operations, spoke to students and faculty about their Artisanat Cooperative. The cooperative was created in 1994 by their founder Sarah Hackett, after she realized that Haitian women had amazing embroidery skills but lacked the resources to use them. 17 years later the Artisanat Cooperative employees about 100 women who create handcrafted goods of “impeccable quality”. These goods are sold online, in stores, and at events held in Haiti and the United States.

But why would such an organization be at the Sustainability Fair? Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. It has encountered a long history of financial instability and political upheaval coupled with constant hurricanes and earthquakes. Haiti Projects only provides the resources to the artisans to make the embroidered products. The Artisanat Cooperative is not a charity, it is a social enterprise dedicated to helping Haitians help Haiti. “Our mission is to empower women to lead sustainable lives, and build communities” stated Chantal Healey.

Haiti Projects plans to keep expanding. They would like to attract younger consumers, update the product line, develop a precise business plan, and further train their artisans. For more information or to buy these goods, visit

A two-part lecture on the topic of conserving the environment for all generations featured speakers Arthur Neill, a volunteer with the Senior Environment Corps, and Dr. MaryBeth Smuts (featured in the story’s picture), the regional air toxicologist for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Boston office. Neill gave an overview of the Senior Environmental Corps’ many projects, which include educational outreach, monitoring and research, and protection and restoration of wildlife, land and vegetation on Cape Cod. Smuts gave an overview of the EPA’s public health work and student research internship opportunities. Paid internships are available at the Boston office, and the main office in Washington, D.C., runs a summer jobs program for college students.

Faculty lectures and panels were also held throughout the day. Dr. Mark Wagner spoke about “How to Solar Your Home;” a panel featuring Dr. Allison Dunn, Dr. Meghna Dilip, and Dr. Maura Pavao focused on “Climate Change and Response;” a panel with Dr. Charlotte Haller, Dr. William Hansen, and Dr. Patricia Benjamin reviewed “Sustainable Food and Agriculture;” and a panel with Dr. Margaret Kerr, Robert Daniels, Rich Perna, and Marcia Eagleson discussed sustainability initiatives at the university. To view presentations from the lectures and panels, visit

The fair was co-sponsored by Career Services, Campus Ministry, Physical and Earth Sciences, Chartwells, Facilities, and the Alumni Office.

Written by communication major and intern Ene Idoko ’11.

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