Paul Smith's community gears up for second annual Climb it 4 Climate

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PAUL SMITHS, NY (08/22/2017) Climb it 4 Climate, a climate change awareness project and fundraiser for Paul Smith's College student scholarships and sustainability programming at Osgood Farm, will enter its second year this September.

Running Sept. 9-24, the hiking-oriented fundraiser encourages participants to use their human energy to climb area mountains. Of the $33,440 raised last year, $8,920 came from donors pledging dollar amounts for summits reached by the public and the Paul Smith's community of students and staff.

"I see the pledge-and-hike model as a pretty typical way of raising funds and awareness through physical activity," said Bethany Garretson, an environmental studies instructor who spearheaded the fundraiser just over a year ago. "It provides two distinct ways to participate: one, you can sponsor hikers, and two, you can hike. I think it's a great partnership."

Garretson, who also manages Osgood Farm and programming at the homestead-style site, started Climb it 4 Climate as a way to raise funds for scholarships and projects on the farm while attempting the fastest known unsupported hike of the 46 High Peaks, a seven-day, 14-hour record currently held by Jan Wellford and Corey Delavalle.

After being on pace on the fifth day of the trek, soaring temperatures forced a change of itinerary, and Garretson completed the remaining half of the 46 over the following nine days as day hikes.

Though Garretson plans to again attempt the unsupported thru-hike-an approximately 200-mile route over all 46 without the aid of food drops or transportation-she sees the project scaling beyond a record attempt to an annual event to further engage the hiking community.

"Last year, Climb it 4 Climate was focused more on the fundraising aspect and thru-hike attempt. We raised a good sum of money and we've been able to do so much with it," added Garretson. "Now, we are putting more focus on educational outreach and community relations. It's so important to come together and celebrate community."

Bob Visicaro, a junior majoring in natural resources conservation and management, is one of a handful of students who have taken on a planning and community engagement role for the project, including organizing Paul Smith's students to transport stuffed mascot "Marshall the Bobcat" to each summit over the course of Climb it 4 Climate.

"I think the main thing is I'm just looking to get more people involved," said Visicaro. "It's obviously to raise awareness of climate, but also help people enjoy this awesome resource we have. Get them in the woods, of top of these mountains, and have fun while doing it."

For more information on Climb it 4 Climate, including how to raise funds solely by hiking or to donate directly, visit

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