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October 20, 2008

Kleppel: Sustainability from Classroom to Farm

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Biology Professor Gary Kleppel directs the Biodiversity, Conservation and Policy program at UAlbany.

Biology Professor Gary Kleppel, with student Erin LaBarge, directs the Biodiversity, Conservation and Policy program at UAlbany. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

Gary Kleppel doesn't just talk about sustainability. He lives it. The University at Albany biology professor directs the Biodiversity, Conservation and Policy program.  At home, he is a farmer. Kleppel rises at 3:30 a.m. to take care of the hormone-free sheep and free-range chickens with his wife Pam at Longfield Farm in Altamont, N.Y. They bought Longfield in 2000. Kleppel will host a sheepherding demonstration in Collins Circle on UAlbany Day at 10 a.m.

"Initially, I started farming because I study the factors that produce different kinds of land use patterns, particularly suburban sprawl. I knew that one of the most effective ways to prevent land from being developed is to keep it profitable for the people who own large tracts of land," said Kleppel. Joining his knowledge of biodiversity with his new life as a farmer has resulted in benefits to University at Albany biology students. This summer UAlbany student Erin LaBarge of Albany, N.Y., a Dean's and President's List biology major, worked with Kleppel on research addressing the relationships between various breeds of sheep (grazers), and the plant communities of wet meadow ecosystems.

Beyond living out his belief in sustainability, Kleppel is furthering the academic careers of his students. He routinely brings UAlbany pre-veterinary students to work on the farm. In order to gain acceptance to veterinary medical school, the students need experience working with large animals.

Kleppel's demonstration is just one of a myriad of activities and events during UAlbany Day, which will showcase to the community how the University put the world within reach. UAlbany Day activities will highlight the richness of the University's academics, student success, and campus life. The day's activities include tours, a Farmers' Market, a basketball scrimmage, a tailgate party, and the Homecoming football game against St. Francis.

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