By Ava Turner
Elm Staff Writer
On Tuesday, Oct. 20, the Center for Environment and Society at Washington College hosted a jack-o-lantern carving competition.
According to their page on the WC website, the CES is an organization at WC that works towards promoting “interdisciplinary learning, research, and exemplary stewardship of natural and cultural resources.”
Jemima Clark, the education program manager at CES, hosted a virtual event for live pumpkin carving tips and tricks, while students followed along on their own pumpkins.
Clark demonstrated by carving a cat eye jack-o-lantern smile onto her own pumpkin with the help of her husband and two children.
The first tip involved carving the hole around the stem to gut the pumpkin. Clark advised students to “cut at an angle or the top will fall through” of the hole they cut. She also said it’s best to have a bowl at the ready for collecting pumpkin guts.
While scooping out the guts, Clark said that “the thinner you make the insides, the easier it is to carve,” then said that carving the skin too thin can lead to accidental holes.
Clark said students should trace an outline, either using a template or freestyle, on the pumpkin before beginning to cut into its face. She warned students to keep in mind that the bottom third of the pumpkin will not be visible once the pumpkin is on the ground.
After cutting out the design, Clark said students should cut ear holes into the sides of the pumpkin to allow for more light to be released from the jack-o-lantern.
Students had the opportunity to submit a picture of their jack-o’-lantern lit up in a competition for a chance to win Amazon gift cards with third place receiving a ten-dollar value, second place winning a fifteen-dollar value, and first place earning a twenty-dollar value.
The first place winner was freshman Colleen Pouge, who carved a creepy smiling face into her pumpkin, which was jokingly named “Goo-go-ga-ga’s” by the Associate Director of the CES Michael Hardesty and his two children. The second-place winner was senior Sarah Cataldo who carved Spider-Man’s face into her pumpkin and the third-place winner was freshman Emma Poole who made a pumpkin house.
Clark also provided some instructions for making roasted pumpkin seeds, telling students to separate guts from seeds without rinsing them before roasting the seeds in the oven with spices as desired.
Freshman Stephanie Provine said the flavor of roasted pumpkin seeds tasted similar to “extra salty sunflower seeds.”
Provine has not yet had the opportunity to carve a pumpkin this year, but she once used a power drill to carve a TARDIS from the show “Doctor Who,” into an older pumpkin with much thicker and harder walls.
Junior Julie St. Clair advised students to use serrated knives when carving pumpkins and said students should experiment with shaving the skin rather than carving to create different dimensions of shading. St. Clair used this technique to create a bison carving into her pumpkin.
For cooking roasted pumpkin seeds, St. Clair recommends students roast them in the oven at a “low heat [of 250°] for a couple hours and flip them” every half hour or so. She also said that it’s important to salt the seeds.
For more information about the CES, visit their Instagram @cesatwashcoll.
Featured Photo caption: Jemma Clark showing off her pumpkin. Photo By Ava Turner.