June 27, 2008
Love of environment carries Marathon grad to college
Cody Gaylord will study adventure recreation this fall at Green Mountain College in Vermont
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Marathon graduating senior Cody Gaylord will be majoring in adventure studies at a private college in Vermont. Gaylord will be a camp counselor this summer at Camp Owahta in Solon.
MARATHON — Some of Cody Gaylord’s fondest childhood memories involve hiking with his grandfather, Charles, at the family’s camp in the Adirondack Mountains.
“He’d always give me lessons,” said Gaylord, 18. “He’d tell me this plant is this and this tree is that.”
Gaylord, who will graduate Sunday with 73 other Marathon High School seniors, will be going to Green Mountain College in Vermont to pursue a degree in adventure recreation. He hopes to one day work as a trip leader for Outward Bound, teaching people about nature and the environment, like his grandfather, a former Marathon resident, taught him.
Growing up, Gaylord spent a lot of time outdoors, between hiking, snowboarding and trap shooting. In high school, he ran on the cross-country and track team, worked at Greek Peak as a snowboard instructor and park crew member and worked at Camp Owahta in Solon as a counselor over the summer.
“I just like being outdoors,” Gaylord said. “It gets my adrenaline pumping.”
He has received numerous honors for competing in different outdoor sports, including making it to state qualifiers in pole-vaulting this year.
But for Todd James, Gaylord’s track and cross-country coach in high school, boss at Camp Owahta and former teacher, what has distinguished Gaylord are his leadership skills.
As a runner he would give fellow students advice on how to prepare for races, and as Student Council president he would prompt dialogues about different important topics.
With the help of Student Council treasurer Ashley McCall, 18, he started a group called Teen Talk that met after school for students to express their opinions.
“One of the things that came out of that is we actually created an acceptance day at school where kids all got a T-shirt that expressed who they were with different quotes,” James said. “In a small school, that warrants a lot of credit on his behalf. A lot of kids wouldn’t be willing to take that risk with peers.”
Gaylord said at the end of each class period students would read a statistic over the school’s loudspeaker, including how many American students each day don’t attend school because they fear being discriminated against.
James has promoted Gaylord to activities director at Camp Owahta this summer, where he will be responsible for activities planning for each day of the camp’s seven weeks.
“That’s a pretty extensive job for a kid but we obviously wouldn’t have put him in the position if we didn’t think he was capable of that kind of job,” James said.
Gaylord said he is looking forward to attending Green Mountain, an 800-student private college, to improve his leadership skills, learn the business end of adventure recreation and potentially learn new paddle sports.
He is also looking forward to becoming more environmentally conscious. Currently, he is a vegetarian, wears organic shirts, and is opposed to testing on animals.
“I’m considered the hippy of our school,” he said.
At college he will learn more about alternative energy sources, organic farming and eco-tourism, among other environmentally related topics. Green Mountain has solar heating, a windmill and electricity-generating composting, Gaylord said, and on Wednesdays 90 percent of the dining hall’s food comes from an on-campus organic farm.
Homer graduating senior Kelsey Hardy-Place, a good friend of Gaylord’s who will also be going to Green Mountain College, said the college’s emphasis on the environment also lured her in.
“Everything they do involves the environment, all the classes, even English,” said Hardy-Place, 18. “You get to pick if you want a biologist for an (English) teacher … and all the books you’d read would relate to the environment.”
The two graduating seniors, who met this past year through the BOCES New Visions program, plan on carpooling to and from Cortland County together during their college years.
They said they are looking forward to going to new area for a new adventure. “There are like 400 ski trails in an hour of the campus or so,” Gaylord said, saying he plans to visit them frequently.
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