By Helena Kilburn
As another beautiful year at Sewanee begins, it is striking how naturally incredible place this is. The perfect lake days, the flowers in full bloom, and even the unusually high number of rattle snakes reported strikes at the hearts of the students and reminds them that this place is unique. The 13,000 acres of nature here feels boundless and all it takes to get some refreshing solitude is a 10 minute walk.
A 10 minute walk and you are surrounded by butterflies, deer, and rabbits. A quick poke around the stream shows high numbers of baby salamanders or large frogs jumping into the water as they notice your careful approach. Perhaps these details stand out to me more strongly as I now begin my senior year. Though the natural beauty and opportunity of Sewanee is part of what drew me here as a freshman, it is impossible to truly know how much this will mean to you until your time here winds down.
My elation about this incredible environment grows daily, as do the experiences I get to have here. I guarantee that I am not the only one who feels continuously awestruck by this place. When I asked other seniors about what the nature of Sewanee means to them, the answers were astoundingly impressive and grateful.
Julia Harrison (C’20) replied “It encourages strong and strange perspective. It is various and unpredictable and animated. And it smells good.” As an avid hiker and appreciator of the outdoors, Harrison has taken this “strange perspective” to enrich her four years here.
Gillian Junglas (C’20), an environment and sustainability major, reported “Over my four years here on the Domain, the nature we have on campus has been instrumental in expanding my environmental education, creating bonds with peers, and keeping a balanced mental health.” The natural part of Sewanee positively impacted every part of his life here.
Geology enthusiast, former Green House resident, and Sewanee Outing Programming staff member Daniel Harper (C’20) responded to this question in possibly the most clearly impactful way. When asked how much the nature here means to him, Dan responded “everything.”
The inextricable bond between Sewanee as a University and Sewanee as the natural landscape keeps the commitment we have to this nature fresh in the minds of students, faculty, and staff. On the chance that this commitment fades or is slowly forgotten, these testimonies from students should serve as that reminder.
Taking care of our environment helps all people here take better care of themselves. The environment helps them stay healthy, helps them learn better, and helps foster connections with not only others but also with themselves. What else could anyone truly ask of their college education?