Paul Skrade joined Knox College on Wednesday, Oct. 23 as interim sustainability coordinator. He replaces the outgoing Shawn Tubb, who left to take an architectural job in Shanghai.
His immediate priority is to ensure that the construction of Knox’s two new high tunnels is completed as soon as possible. There will be two high tunnels, one built for educational purposes and run by Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Peter Schwartzman and one to be used for producing environmentally friendly food for the cafeteria.
Asked about the production tunnel and how it’s going to make a difference, Skrade said, “Its going to be an experience for the students, it’s going to be producing healthy food for the cafeteria and it should also end up saving money.”
The construction of the high tunnels should be complete by Thanksgiving, contingent upon the Environmental Studies Department getting enough volunteers to help them. For the construction to be completed within the desired timeframe, at least 50 student volunteers will be needed.
Skrade urges anyone with an interest to lend a hand.
“If anyone is willing to help with construction, please contact me.”
Apart from the high tunnel work, Paul is also looking at the issue of worm composting in Knox, examining recycling on campus, looking over the bicycle rent and repair store at the basement of Old Jail and assisting the six sustainability student interns who had initially been guided by Shawn Tubb.
He also wants to look at water use on campus and believes we should have more than one water bottle station to help reduce plastic bottle use. Skrade also has interest in increasing biodiversity on campus through the introduction of new plant species and looking more closely at the school’s energy usage.
Despite not having had much prior experience in this specific job, or been in such a position before, he was chosen for this Knox position because of his past involvement and contribution towards sustainability oriented initiatives. As a student at Luther College, he conducted various sustainability activities such as organizing environmental concerns group on campus, converting waste oil into biodiesel and constructing on-campus wind turbines.
Upon completing his PhD he moved to Galesburg with his wife, Head Tennis Coach Miriam Skrade. He was staying home and working on his papers when he was requested to fill in the position of an interim sustainability coordinator by President Teresa Amott.
A passionate and enthusiastic environmentalist and nature lover from a young age, Skrade was greatly influenced by his father, who was a biologist for the state of Alaska. Now, he inculcates the same environmental values on his 8-year-old twins, who find it perplexing when they see people not recycling their wastes or showing environmentally friendly habits.
Although he is an interim sustainability coordinator for the moment, his ultimate goal is to become a college level biology professor.