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A Farewell to Dr. Hooker
Grace Mazur '20 Contributing Writer
May 11, 2020
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After three years as Deerfield’s Sustainability Education Coordinator, Dr. Beth Hooker will be moving on to a position at Ceres, a Boston-based nonprofit organization committed to promoting sustainability and environmental stewardship. The Deerfield community remembers Dr. Hooker for her passion for the environment, her unquenchable joy, and the donuts she often brought to class. 

According to Dr. Hooker, her role as Sustainability Education Coordinator “was envisioned to work closely with the faculty and student body [and] with Facilities on-campus sustainability projects,” some of which include the Think 80/20 initiative and an on-site solar project. Additionally, Dr. Hooker served on the Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee and was the assistant director of the Center for Service and Global Citizenship (CSGC). 

As a member of the science department, Dr. Hooker taught Research in Sustainability, AP Environmental Science, AP Seminar: Global H2O, and an elective titled Sustainable Deerfield. Angélique Alexos ‘20, a member of Dr. Hooker’s Research in Sustainability class, greatly valued the course, saying, “Throughout the projects and experiments that we conducted, I was always in awe of her passion and interest in understanding the natural world.” 

Arthur Yao ‘20, another member of the class, similarly valued the care she put into his group project experimenting with biochar. “Dr. Hooker went above and beyond providing the materials and guiding us through the whole process,” he said. 

Evidently, Dr. Hooker’s classroom environment is one where enthusiasm for sustainability is contagious. When reflecting on a time the Deerfield community inspired her, Dr. Hooker cited the biochar project as well. She recalled that when the students initially came to her with the idea, she told them it would be a massive undertaking, but that she would help them do it. Once the materials came and the project was underway, “they just kept at it and didn’t give up. They just owned it.” She added, “That’s what I like about students at Deerfield.”

Her fellow faculty members also admire her equal enthusiasm for helping students and protecting the environment. Dr. Mary Ellen Friends, who co-taught AP Seminar with Dr. Hooker, said, “The field trip Dr. Hooker planned was both academically meaningful and was important to the bonding of the class. I’ll remember that beautiful day with a valuable colleague and a terrific group of students for the rest of my DA career.” 

Through the Eco-Rep program she revitalized, students worked with Dr. Hooker on a variety of sustainability projects specific to the Deerfield community. Yao, a member of the Eco-Rep program, notes that “she has motivated all the members to be active contributors and models of sustainable living,” and that through Dr. Hooker’s leadership, “we became a close-knit community that shared a common passion for improving the carbon footprint of Deerfield.”

Whether through her efforts to make Deerfield a more sustainable place or simply through her unfailingly positive presence, Dr. Hooker’s impact on the Deerfield community cannot be understated. Ms. Baltazar, the Program Coordinator for the CSGC, said that “Dr. Hooker has been a supportive, encouraging colleague, but most importantly she has been a good friend.” Izzy Hamlen ‘20, another Eco-Rep and one of Dr. Hooker’s students, added to this sentiment and said, “Dr. Hooker has definitely helped me learn how to advocate for what I believe in.” 

Dr. Hooker will continue to pursue environmental stewardship as she begins her new position at Ceres this fall. There, she will be using her background in freshwater science to work “with other NGOs, such as the World Wildlife Fund, to advance agricultural stewardship.” Undoubtedly, she will continue to spread enthusiasm for the environment and joy for life in her role as Senior Program Manager in Agriculture and Water Resilience there. Deerfield will be forever grateful for all that Dr. Hooker has contributed to the community and wishes her all the best in her future.