Student Conversations

Jeff Rizza ’16
New Paltz, N.Y.

Graduate student in HWS master’s in teaching program; double major in physics and environmental studies, minor in geoscience; Druid; Phi Beta Kappa; 2016 winner of the Stu Lieblein ’90 Pitch Contest for his proposed business, “Future Farms;” former co-chair of Campus Greens; Outdoor Recreation and Adventure Program guide; president of Badminton Club; recipient of the Durfee Award and the Albert Holland Prize; member of the HWS RockSat-C team that designed, built and launched a rocket payload; member of HWS team that took first prize in the NASA/Montana National Student Solar Spectroscopy Competition; teaching fellow for physics; quantitative reasoning fellow for Center for Teaching and Learning; resident assistant in the Sustainable Living and Learning First-Year Community; participated in storm chasing trip with members of the Geoscience Department: “A lot of sciences are old sciences but meteorology is one of the few new sciences where there are so many unanswered questions.”

I’ve always been interested in environmental issues. I’m from a rural and outdoorsy community where there is a lot of agriculture going on. I was surrounded by farming growing up, but I wanted to come at it from a different angle. A “Future Farm” is an energy efficient greenhouse that combines vertical growing techniques with aquaponics to grow produce year-round. A combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil), it works like a miniature ecosystem. Compared to conventional methods, it uses 90 percent less water and can grow more, higher-quality, affordable produce in a much smaller area. After graduation, I’ll be using the $10,000 Pitch grant to create the first Future Farm near my hometown.

While on campus I sometimes feel as though there isn’t enough conversation happening about the things that I see as important topics – issues of sustainability and the use of Fribolin Farm, for example. We’ve made a huge commitment to go carbon neutral by 2025. Focusing on how we can best make use of things like the Fribolin Farm would help us meet that goal. More broadly, I think we could latch on to sustainability as a defining characteristic of our campus community.


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.