Student’s grant hinges on video
MIDDLEBURY — Andrew Freeman willingly posted on Facebook footage of himself tumbling haphazardly over the Otter Creek Falls in downtown Middlebury in a kayak and is encouraging people to watch it and to tell their friends to do the same.
If he gets enough people to watch it — and like it — he’ll will a grant.
Freeman’s video, which he wrote and shot at various locations around Vermont on behalf of the Middlebury College Mountain Club (known also as MMC), was recently chosen as one of four finalists for fabric manufacturer Polartec’s “Made Possible” grant.
Freeman, a sophomore at Middlebury College, and the MMC are up against outing groups from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Appalachian State University and the University of Idaho — all large, state schools — for the $10,000 award.
Nineteen hopeful schools submitted video and print applications, but it was Freeman’s proposal, along with the other three finalists, that Polartec deemed most worthy of the grant meant to support the growth of outdoor clubs on college campuses.
With the money, Freeman hopes to publish a guide to give to all incoming freshman that would provide detailed instructions about how to access various hiking, climbing and paddling spots.
“It’s very easy to join the Mountain Club, but let’s say you’re a kid that doesn’t want to identify themselves like that or you don’t think that that’s what you’re going to be interested in and you missed the student activities fair and just wanted to go for a hike on a Saturday afternoon with your friends,” Freeman said. “It would be really great if you could just go to the information you received at the beginning of the year and be like — BAM! Here’s how we get to Snake Mountain. Here’s how we get to Camel’s Hump.”
According to Freeman, such a guide already exists thanks to a Winter Term course from a couple years back.
“What I want to do with the money is edit it, update it and print out a bajillion copies and make sure that every incoming freshman gets one,” he said. “Chances are it will probably be printed once, but if it were printed every year, to give to the new students, you could even include a catalog of numbers of people who are psyched and want to get out. Part of the fun of something like that would be just the act of creating it. But also, I really think it would be a cool thing and it would make the whole outdoors experience here a lot more accessible.”
With the $10,000 grant, Freeman thinks that he and the MMC would be able to print a large quantity to use for years to come. In this way, he thinks his proposal might be slightly more viable than those of the other finalists. While the University of Massachusetts’ plan to create an adaptive equipment program is a good one, Freeman thinks that $10,000 would not necessarily go as far toward such an expensive endeavor.
“The thing that’s tough is that the other entries are very, very worthy uses of the money, as well,” Freeman said. “UMass has a really cool idea to create an adaptive program to make it handicap accessible with adaptive equipment. The funny thing is, my brother has cerebral palsy and goes to UMass. So, if they win, I wouldn’t be disappointed.”
The other two schools have proposed a conservation project that would involve cleaning up an abandoned ranch in Idaho and starting an “adventure grant” endowment, much like the trip funds that the MMC already gives out to Middlebury students.
Polartec has left it up to the public to determine the winner. Each of the final four videos has been posted on the company’s Facebook page, and the winner will be determined by which of the videos receives the most “likes” and will be announced on Dec. 1. Voting began on Nov. 9 and will end on the evening of Nov. 30. Facebook users are allowed one vote per day during this period.
“Right now we’re at the stage where it’s being voted on and it’s the total number of votes that counts, so it’s really an issue of getting enough people excited about it to promote it to their friends and say, ‘Hey, come vote for this. Come vote for my school,’” Freeman said.
Tamara Hilmes is at [email protected].
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