Pitzer Spotlights

2007-2008 Spotlight Archives

Environmental Activist Adam Forbes Named Watson Fellow
So you think you have been busy! Meet Adam Forbes ’08

Adam Forbes
Adam Forbes '08 will be traveling to India, Thailand, Norway, Mexico, Peru and Ethiopia to study heirloom varieties.

Three years of action-packed involvement at Pitzer College and in the community is one way to describe how Adam Forbes expended seemingly endless energy while pursuing his degree. A self-designed major in Community and Sustainable Agriculture, Adam graduates this spring after only three years at Pitzer. Looking toward the future, Adam’s Watson Fellowship will now take him to India, Thailand, Norway, Mexico, Peru and Ethiopia to pursue his scholarship on the topic of Crops and Cultures: The Preservation of Heirloom Varieties.

“I decided to take the year after high school off to travel and learn more about the world. I went to Nepal for several months and it was there that I learned the importance of food production. I think that food is the closest connection people have to nature. I observed the way small-scale farmers produced food and also worked harvesting rice while there,” Adam explained.

“As a result of being in Thailand at the time the Indian Ocean tsunami struck, I felt an intense motivation to give back to society, to do something meaningful with my life,” Adam said.

As a first-year Pitzer student, Adam organized a group of ten students who traveled to Mississippi on their Spring break to help out with the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. In addition, he joined forces with the International Rescue Committee and coordinated a successful concert fundraiser to provide assistance to refugees in Darfur and to raise awareness of their plight.

Still feeling a sense of social responsibility but wanting a primary focus in which to make as meaningful an impact as possible, Adam has spent the majority of his time and effort at Pitzer concentrating on a variety of environmental sustainability projects. He served as the president of the Eco Center club for a year and a half. Later, he petitioned Student Senate to secure recognition for the Garden Club as an official student-run organization in which he now serves as its president.

During his time at Pitzer, the organic garden has not only expanded in size but is also the location where he founded the community garden—a place where Pitzer and local community members may cultivate their own crops for healthier living. Reviving an earlier tradition of community gardening work days, Adam has encouraged students to regularly participate in and enjoy the fruits of their labor while learning more about sustainable growing and living. The community garden now boasts more than 40 varieties of fruits and vegetables.

Last January, along with one of his environmentally-focused classmates, Tim Van Waggoner ’07, Adam led a group of seven students to an ecological farming conference in Northern California. This year the group who attended the conference numbered eleven.

As one of the exciting opportunities offered to first-year students at Pitzer during the Fall semester, Adam coordinated a “Sustainability in Action” program for seventeen students. Students visited local farmers and their gardens, the Pitzer Garden, the Pomona Farm, the Farmer’s Market in Claremont, and select gardens in the Los Angeles area.

“Professors Paul Faulstich and Melinda Herrold-Menzies assisted me greatly with my environmental sustainability work and activities while at Pitzer which I greatly appreciate,” Adam said. He is currently designing a management plan for the future sustainability of the Pitzer Farm Project as part of his senior thesis.

Long-term and post-Watson, Adam plans to start an organic farm with an emphasis on education and sustainable food production. His goal is to work within low-income communities in the inner cities of New York or New Jersey (his hometown is Hopewell, NJ). “I want to show how food can be organically grown and profitably grown,” Adam said.

“My Pitzer experience has helped me to think critically about the world, how we affect the environment around us, and the importance of localized grass roots efforts. My passion for environmental activism was cemented here,” Adam added.

—Susan Andrews