Work Activities

Afternoon Work activities meet once or twice a week. They are group activities that a student does in addition to their normal job as part of the 6-day Work Program.


Basic carpentry skills are introduced including the use of hammers, saws, measuring tapes, levels and square. Students assist in on-going repairs and construction projects on campus.

Cider Making

Apples are collected from campus or at a local orchard, then converted into cider. Here teamwork and cooperation are emphasized, both while pressing and, later, while cleaning. Each student rotates through the various tasks so he or she learns all the steps in making cider.

Community Service

Students do a variety of volunteer work, such as assisting senior citizens with yard work, picking vegetables for the Vermont Foodbank, and doing trail maintenance with the Putney Conservation Commission. This fall our focus will be on out of doors campus projects.

Child Care

If you love working with young kids, this is a chance to do so in the afternoons at Elm Lea Child Care, our on-campus child care center for infants through five-year-olds. Student workers help out in the afternoon assisting trained child-care professionals. Reading books, digging in a small garden, playing tag, some light cleaning, singing to babies, and generally having fun with young children are all part of the activity. Students must be 16 years old, have an interest in working with young children, an ability to jump in when needed, and a love for being creative and having fun with young people.


Students are engaged in all aspects of running a diversified farm. Activities may include: fencing, haying, sugaring, animal husbandry (cows, chickens, sheep, pigs, turkeys, etc.), building and clearing land.

Garden / Greenhouse

During winter gardening we will get the gardens started for the 2021 growing season. We'll spend the bulk of our time in the greenhouses and tasks will include seeding, harvesting and washing spinach, and processing popcorn. We will likely do some sugaring work as well.


Students work in the kitchen preparing dinner for the entire school. They are introduced to such basic kitchen skills as handling a knife and preparing salad and learn cooking techniques such as sautéing, steaming, boiling and roasting. Duties may also include cleaning and stocking. Students are expected to maintain a professional level in terms of cooking skills, cleanliness and high food-quality standards.


Students work on the grounds of the school campus. They prune large and small shrubs, plant, weed, dig, transplant and plan. Students put gardens to bed, and then wake them again in the spring. They work with all kinds of plants and flowers all around campus, and learn about invasive plants, healthy trimming, maintenance and clean up. Students learn how to think about aesthetic choices in landscaping as well as functional and practical overseeing of the plants around dorms, offices and pathways. The activity involves mostly manual tools and provides a way to fulfill the land use requirement.


Reality and its practical applications are given the hands-on approach in this activity. Carmelita Hinton’s work ethic versus the Victorian school of condescension toward dirt under the fingernails are at the heart here. Entropy, creating order out of chaos, a priori philosophical constructs and how to unclog a sink drain are all part of learning “grunt” work at Putney.

Putting Food By

This activity will focus attention to the preservation of food from the gardens here at school. It will combine gardening and food processing and cooking, so that our community can enjoy on site produced food more often. Students will learn and practice a variety of kitchen and garden skills. Wednesday afternoons.


Recycling is an active activity, responsible for collecting and monitoring our recyclable waste. Students rotate through the buildings collecting recyclables and keeping the collection areas as sanitary and organized as possible. More than just collecting cans, the purpose is to educate the community about the reuse and recycling of waste.

Sheep Farm and Dye Garden

The Sheep and Dye Garden Activity meets in the fall and spring trimesters. Students care for the sheep, including cleaning their pen each week and assisting with trimming hooves and shearing. Students will also wash fleeces in preparation for hand spinning and tend the dye garden. This includes growing plants, weeding and harvesting dye materials. Students will have the opportunity to dye Putney fleece and yarn with the dye plants that we grow. This activity provides a land use credit.

Sustainability Crew

Sustainability afternoon meets two afternoons a week and allows students the time and guided support to work on projects designed to address the sustainability needs of our school. Projects this fall will be mostly outside and may include such things as the dorm composting system (cleaning/updating buckets, fixing the bins, etc.), maintaining the student SEED gardens, and planning some of the events for weekends (like a trash'n fash'n show, sustainability scavenger hunt, etc.).

Theater Tech

This activity is responsible for the physical elements of the current play in production. We build and paint the sets and fixtures, design and install lighting and so creating the magical elements that are part of a theater production. The students are included in the design concept and give input toward that end. They also learn how to use both hand and power tools, to mix colors and paint scenery.

Theater Lighting Tech

This activity is responsible for lighting the current play in production as well as other performances. We will work as a team to design a light plan, hang, cable, focus and gel the lights. For those who can work methodically and safely to install a plan that uses one of the most nebulous of mediums, pure light in a dark room.

Woods Crew

This activity involves both firewood preparation and forest management. Students share responsibility for producing and transporting sufficient firewood for a number of heating stoves on and near campus, as well as the wood-fired baking oven in the school dining hall. This is a rigorous outdoor activity that acquaints students with Putney’s wood lots, teaches them responsible stewardship of the land and instills in them a sense of self-reliance in a rural setting.

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