Skip to main content

Join us for an unforgettable two weeks of exploration, education, and hands-on experiences in the Sustainable Futures Program. Open your eyes to the wonders of agriculture and become a steward of a more sustainable and resilient future. Embark on a journey through permaculture gardens, discovering the intricate balance between nature and sustainable farming practices. Gain hands-on experience in cultivating a future where agriculture harmonizes with the environment.

Program at a Glance


July 21–August 3, 2024


Tuition: $4,745
Deposit: $950
Application Fee: $50

You’ll Gain

Hands-on fieldwork
Ideas to implement in your community
A network of students and educators who are environmentalists like you

Apply Now

Applications for all precollege programs are now open! Assessed on a rolling basis, applicants can submit their materials until May 2024.

Students in a field with a wheelbarrow.

Outdoor Exploration

Sustainable Agriculture: Seeds, Soil and Sustenance is an exploration of sustainable futures through the lens of agriculture. This program introduces students to agricultural systems across the globe, and the culture, climate, soils, and biogeography of these systems. A culture’s food system tells us about its relationship to the planet, as agriculture has fundamentally changed physical and cultural landscapes. Colonial legacies have negatively impacted food sovereignties of native and indigenous peoples. Many agricultural systems are highly vulnerable to global climate and environmental change.

Through hands-on projects, students learn about where and how our food is grown, the magic of seeds, and the wonders of healthy soil. Outdoor investigations of the landscape familiarize students with native flora, fauna, and fungi. Field trips provide an exploration of sustainable alternatives including local, small-scale organic agriculture, permaculture, and community gardens.

Like Science? Also Check Out Summer Engineering. Explore Another Program.

Program Details


Tuition: $4,745
Deposit: $950
Application Fee: $50

Deposit due within two weeks of acceptance.

To learn more, see the Apply to Summer Programs page.


Human beings eat food daily, and this necessity has led to conversion of close to half the Earth’s land surface to agricultural use. Engage with others on a journey to discover how agriculture can be transformed to not only feed us, but also nurture people and the planet.

Smith Precollege Programs are open to students entering 9th-12th grade in the fall of 2024. Smith is a residential women’s college. Our Precollege Programs offer a Smith experience for high school students. Review our Codes of Conduct for students and parents/guardians to ensure that this program is the right fit for you. College credit is not offered.

Hands-On Experience

Applicants should be able to participate in moderate nature walks, engage in field trips, and spend a full day outdoors.


Joan Welch

Joan M. Welch is a human-environment geographer with over 30 years of experience with teaching, research and community activism related to sustainability. Dr. Welch received her B.A. from Saint Cloud State University and M.A. and Ph.D. from Boston University. Her research interests are in the realm of landscape ecology, biogeography and sustainable agriculture. She served as faculty advisor for the organic gardens at West Chester University of Pennsylvania for more than 20 years where she established two student-run organic gardens. Produce from the gardens went to the campus resource pantry to address food insecurity. In collaboration with students, Dr. Welch established an eastern deciduous woodland permaculture plot with edible native plants. A veritable tree hugger, Dr. Welch has engaged students in research that calculates the ecosystem benefits of urban trees.