Beauregard Duval is a pollinator of the future. The University of Vermont freshman is majoring in environmental science, but his interest in the environment began through programs he participated in right here in the Hudson Valley.
From grades seven through twelve, Duval attended Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie. “It’s a small Quaker school,” he explains. “The small aspect, I really enjoyed because you get to have a lot of one-on-one time with the teachers, and it lets you have a close relationship with them. That lets the teachers tailor what they teach more specifically to you.”
Together with his biology professor and a fellow student, Duval received class credit for creating a nearly self-sustaining fish tank. The fifty gallon tank incorporates plants that increase oxygen and decrease nitrogen levels in the water. Some of the species of fish chosen for the tank feed on algae, thereby eliminating the need for filters and man-made fish food. “Oakwood was always there for me with whatever I wanted to do,” Duval says.
Duval also received a certificate in permaculture from the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck. Agricultural permaculture design mimics the sustainable, self-sufficient systems found in nature.
“At Omega, a lot of it was sustainable design applied to plant management, and the best way to go about that,” Duval says. “My personal group’s project was to make a sustainable permaculture plan for a plot on the Omega campus based on the soil and the landscape.”
For Duval, the most important part of the program was the influence it had on his approach to life.
“To me, what I really got out of the permaculture program was this permaculture mindset that I keep with me and I still use every single day,” he says. “Thinking sustainably. Thinking, ‘what does my impact have on not just the environment, but the people around me?’ Where does my waste go? What impacts do buying certain products have? I think it’s just that mindset; that is really something that I got out of the permaculture program.”
Having been inspired by his time interning at another center of learning in the Hudson Valley—the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook—Duval hopes to someday apply his knowledge to problems related to water ecology.
“I think now, in an ever-changing environment, there’s a lot of climate change going on, and my education could be used in a lot of ways that would better my local environment and help people out in my ecosystem,” says Duval. “I went to the Cary Institute’s intern program. They’re working on pharmaceuticals in our local water system from people flushing them down the toilet, and what impacts it has on our environment, on the water we drink, on the animals, and the entire ecosystem. I think working on that would be kind of a life goal, because it’s beneficial to the community at large and also to the environment and the ecosystem. It’s something that affects humans as well as the environment.”