Veterans Campaign, an organization formed by 20 graduate students, brought 75 military veterans from across the United States to a mid-September conference in Princeton to help prepare them to run for public office.  

The idea came from Seth Lynn, who served six years in the Marines and is now a second-year M.P.A. student in the Woodrow Wilson School. Lynn said he was surprised by the decreasing number of veterans serving in Congress: While in the 1970s a majority of members of Congress were veterans, today only 23 percent can claim that status.

Lynn recruited more than 20 graduate students — including two others who are veterans — to work on the project, many from the Wilson School. Eric Melancon, another M.P.A. student who helped develop the conference curriculum, said that veterans “have the potential to be great candidates — they just need the tools.”

The conference highlighted the leadership and management skills and the national loyalty of those with military experience. Rep. Jim Marshall II ’72, D-Ga., a Vietnam veteran who was the keynote speaker, said veterans “share a common bond that enables them to reach across party lines.” But veterans often face fundraising challenges to mount campaigns, conference speakers said.  

Jack Jacobs, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and media instructor at West Point, talked to the veterans about media relations, and fundraising strategies were explained by Tim Persico, campaign manager for Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa., the first Iraq war veteran elected to Congress.

Participants traveled from 20 states and ranged from veterans interested in public office to current candidates. William Treseder, a Stanford undergraduate, praised the volunteers and speakers, describing the conference as “a resounding success.”

Lynn, who plans to work full time with Veterans Campaign after his graduation in the spring, said that veterans have “proven that they have put country first” — a quality he argues is fundamental to the role of a member of Congress.  

He is working with other graduate students to organize another workshop for Washington, D.C., in February. More information about the program can be found at

By Jessica Lander ’10

It is 9 o’clock Monday morning. At 11 a.m. Amber Jackson ’13 will have a linguistics class, followed by Spanish and chemistry. But rather than finishing up last-minute reading or reviewing flashcards, Jackson is kneeling among parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme within the Forbes College garden.  

Eva Wash ’11, one of the garden project’s co-managers, is shoveling dirt to add to the compost. She discovered the Forbes garden in her first week on campus when she hit it off with the garden’s founder, Ruthie Schwab ’09. Wash has had her hands in the dirt ever since.

Vegetables grown in the garden are chopped and sautéed in the Forbes ­dining hall kitchen. Three years ago the residential colleges were asked to develop a signature project. “Surrounded by greenery, our approach was to pick the theme of sustainability and the environment,” said Patrick Caddeau, Forbes director of studies. “The Forbes garden was a great complement to what we were trying to achieve.” A Forbes residential college adviser, Wash serves up fresh cucumbers for study breaks and Thai-inspired salads for dinner with fellow advisers.  

The garden community is not confined to Forbesians; students from all residential colleges plant, weed, and harvest. Princeton residents and professors partake of garden dinners. During the summer the garden’s produce found its way to restaurant tables at Mediterra, ice cream tubs at Bent Spoon, and serving stations at the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen.

At 9:30 a.m., Sarah Simon ’13 leads a procession of students toting tubs of tomatoes, herbs, and fuzzy edamame through Forbes College. In previous weeks, they would have been carrying rainbow chard, cauliflower, kale, cucumbers, dragon-tongue beans, and peppers — jalapeño, bell, and spicy black pearl varieties. Still on the vine are foot-wide watermelons and oblong eggplants, streaked purple.  

In the Forbes kitchen, a chef enthusiastically twirls a cherry tomato and smells the mint sprigs. Over the next few days the thyme will accent pasta sauces, and the edamame will be tossed in salads. But Simon cannot linger once the harvest is delivered. It’s 9:45, and she has French class in 15 minutes.