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Cool Sightings: A Year of Natural History at Simon's Rock

Cool Sightings: A Year of Natural History at Simon's Rock is a community book that celebrates the place where we live, work, study, and play.

Campus woods

Campus woods, photo by Rachel Shi '15

Project Summary

After a year-long project of events and natural history observations through four New England seasons, Cool Sightings: A Year of Natural History at Simon's Rock was published celebrating the beautiful campus where we live, work, study, and play. The Simon's Rock campus is in a beautiful and rural setting where human inhabitants live alongside a wide variety of birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. Through the 2016-2017 academic year, the community engaged in active observation of their environment and expressed their appreciation through written and creative work, culminating in a 128-page full-color book.

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Grey squirrel on tree

Grey squirrel, photo by Rachel Shi '15

Cool Sightings

Campus wildlife sightings, natural history observations, weather effects, special places on campus, beautiful scenes, etc. were the foundation of the book. Based on these cool sightings, natural history profiles were written to provide information about what was being observed. The Simon's Rock community was also invited to share their appreciation of the natural environment through creative writing and artwork.

During the project, observations were submitted to the project's Facebook page, SR Cool Sightings; emailed to the project team; and written on the log sheet in the Hall College Center outside Academic Affairs. Even though the book project is complete, we welcome observations to continue to be posted through any of these means!

Check out this awesome video of four bobcats on upper campus taken by staff member Alec Schmidt!

Natural History Profiles

The book includes natural history profiles to illustrate the behavior, ecology, and other aspects of the wildlife and plant life being observed on campus.


The book includes photographs, drawings, illustrations, and paintings that express the artist's relationship to or appreciation of the natural environment of the campus.

Creative Writing

Fall color on pond

Fall colors, photo by Rachel Shi '15

The book includes a range of creative written work that expresses the author's experience with the natural setting of the campus.

Contributors to the book included a broad reach of the Simon’s Rock community: students, faculty, staff, retired staff and faculty, and alumni. The project was managed by a team of staff, faculty, and students:

  • Karen Advokaat, Coordinator of Academic Programs
  • Tom Coote, Director of Sustainability Programming & Faculty in Environmental Studies
  • Brian Conolly, Faculty in Philosophy
  • Chloe Hull '13, Student Project Intern
  • KellyAnne McGuire, Outreach Librarian
  • Kalie McGuirl '14, Student Project Intern
  • Brian Mikesell, Library Director
  • Hannan Mir '15, Student Project Intern
  • Jess Parrott '16, Student Project Intern
  • Monk Schane-Lydon, Senior Instructional Technologist
  • Sarah Snyder, Faculty in Biology

The book was printed by QualPrint, Inc. on recycled paper using soy-based ink. The business is powered by solar energy.