In a recent report produced by the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council, findings showed that the region could potentially be the East Coast response to Silicon Valley. Many technology companies have set up shop in the area because of its abundant water resources and diverse population. Nanotechnology, in particular, stands to become a major presence in the Mohawk Valley. At the Utica Children’s Museum (UCM), Dylann McLaughlin ‘18 has been working on a project proposed by interim director Elizabeth Brando to establish the Museum as the beginning of a workforce development pipeline. In theory, young children would come to the UCM to learn about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) concepts and become familiarized with skills that will one day be useful in these fields. The idea is that if children can be introduced to these concepts in a fun and hands-on way, they will be much more likely to stay interested in STEAM, pursue degrees in these fields, and find careers in the Mohawk Valley area.
Kris Pfister ’17 is a Studio Art major/ Film and Media Studies minor from Galion, Ohio, and is working with two organizations this summer as a returning Field School Fellow. At the Sam and Adele Golden Foundation for the Arts, she is updating a vast contact database, posting events on community calendars, assisting resident artists, and filling paint for the Seconds paint program. At Rogers Environmental Education Center, she is conducting research and collecting information about the feasibility of an improved children’s play area.
This post was written by Adrielle Jefferson ’17
This summer, I have had the incredible opportunity to work closely with the administration of the Chenango Nursery School helping to both write grants and assist with the quality review process of current programming. Chenango Nursery School (CNS) founded in 1948, is a non-profit, cooperative nursery school for children in Hamilton, NY and surrounding communities. CNS has grown and changed through the years in response to the needs of the community. It remains a fully cooperative effort of parents, a corporation owned and operated by the parents of the children attending the school. A Board of Directors comprised of parents and community members, establishes school policies and programs.
As a fellow at CNS, I have written requests for funding for professional development opportunities, playground revitalization and technology. A typical day for me begins with research and note taking and ends with a meeting with my supervisor to discuss the direction of my projects. Some days I have had the opportunity to sit in classrooms and interact with students which has been a rewarding experience.
I was interested in becoming a Field School Fellow this summer because it is a unique opportunity to use the skills I have developed as an undergraduate at Colgate University to assist organizations in the surrounding area. I wanted to build relationships with members of the local community and focus on regional projects that would have a direct effect on the community. As an Upstate Institute Fellow, I aimed to learn more about the ways in which effective community organizations can be agents of change. As a rising senior, interested in nonprofits and considering entering the education sector after graduation, working at CNS is a perfect match.
While working at CNS, I have learned a lot about the challenges small nonprofits can face as well as the power of community organizing and advocacy. I am confident that while working for CNS I will be able to research and write several grant proposals that will help CNS to achieve its goals. I hope to be a helpful member of the CNS team and to improve my professional writing and public speaking skills. I am looking forward to continuing my work at CNS!
This post was written by Grace Thomas ’17
I was drawn to the Field School program at the Upstate Institute this summer because of the unique opportunity it offers to blend the workplace environment and research. Initially, I was unsure whether I wanted to have an internship in a corporate office, or if I wanted to complete on-campus research. The Field School is a wonderful compromise. Additionally, I am very drawn to the Upstate New York region; there are so many fantastic not-for-profit initiatives occurring in this area, especially during the gorgeous summer months.
This post was written by Emily Rooney ’17
This summer I am working with Pathfinder Village, a planned residential community that supports people with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities. The organization works to foster a community that empowers residents to be independent through programs like day services, the Pathfinder Village school, a post-secondary school (Otsego Academy), camps, etc. It was founded in 1980 and although the organization has expanded and evolved since then, it stays true to its core vision “that each life may find meaning.”
This post was written by Daniel Handler ’18
New York State was once known as the most important producer of hops, the plant that is used to flavor beer by affecting its bitterness. By the mid19th century, New York State had achieved national leadership in hops production, containing over 40,000 acres of hopyards. The bulk of this production occurred in only several Central New York counties, including Madison, Otsego, Oneida, and Schoharie Counties. These counties produced millions of pounds of hops for both domestic and international markets, and created a culture of hop growing in Central New York. However, by the early 20th century the New York State hops industry was all but destroyed. Several hard-hitting pest and disease outbreaks in the beginning of the 20th century caused hop production values to rapidly decline. Combined with an increase in competition with new hop growers in the Pacific Northwest and the enactment of Prohibition, the New York State hops industry was unable to recover, and almost completely disappeared. Read more
This post was written by Austin Anderson ’17
In the everyday pressures and demanding schedules we all face, we tend to take for granted some of the most important aspects of our lives, like access to a safe and healthy environment. The Madison County Rural Health Council (MCRHC) works to provide this essential service. The organization is dedicated to improving the health of Madison County residents through fostering links between healthcare providers, raising awareness about health issues, and increasing access to healthcare and healthy opportunities for the public. Founded only three years ago, the MCRHC developed and published a Community Health Assessment (CHA)/Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) in 2013. The organization also initiated a Live Well Committee in Madison County to implement programs designed to increase the availability of nutritious food sources and inspire higher levels of physical activity.
Since joining the Upstate Institute as faculty director (nearly one year ago already!), I’ve really enjoyed chances to bring together my interests in food and community with the local goals and needs of our Upstate community. Our Summer Field School, which is just about to kick into gear for the 2016 season, features several projects centered around food in our region, including collaborations with the Partnership for Community Development, Madison County’s Planning Department, and Cooperative Extension’s Agricultural Economic Development program. You will be able to read more about these projects right here, as students will be posting about their work later this summer!
This week, however, I’m packing my bags, preparing to leave Upstate, NY for eleven days on a trip with six other Colgate faculty, to explore issues of food, community, and culture in three Midwestern U.S. cities—St Louis, Chicago, and Detroit.
Joscelyn Godwin and coauthor Christian Goodwillie (Hamilton College) have just published Symbols in the Wilderness: Early Masonic Survivals in Upstate New York. The title was published by Richard W. Couper Press, with funding from the Upstate Institute.
Freemasonry played a vital role in the social development of New York State. Its Lodges provided a trusted place for newcomers to meet and for friendships and business partnerships to develop, free from political, professional, and sectarian differences. During its explosive growth from 1790 to the end of the 1820s Masonic brethren produced iconic architecture, as well as extraordinary examples of folk art, expressed in large symbolic paintings (“tracing boards”), murals, textiles, and graphics. Most of these have remained entirely unknown outside the Upstate Lodges that, against all hazards, have preserved them. Their symbolism seems mysterious and confusing to outsiders, but once explained, it gives insight into a period and place unique in American history.
Joscelyn Godwin is Professor of Music at Colgate University. He previously published The Spirit House, or Brown’s Free Hall, in Georgetown, New York with the Upstate Institute. Symbols in the Wilderness is available for purchase at Couper Press.
Reporter Sean Martinelli from WUTR in Utica recently visited campus to speak with students and faculty about Colgate’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, featuring VITA in a piece that aired on WUTR earlier this month. The VITA program provides residents of Chenango and Madison counties with free help preparing their federal income taxes. Led by Professor of Economics Nicole Simpson, VITA trains Colgate students in the nuts-and-bolts of filing tax returns, paying special attention to the Earned Income Tax Credit that is available for many low-income residents. Tax refunds from VITA-prepared returns bring more than $1 million back to our region each year. The VITA story includes details about a recent gift of $30,000 from NBT Bank that will help to support the program and keep it running for the next three years. The Upstate Institute thanks NBT Bank and WUTR for their support of VITA, as well as the students and community partners that put in many hours of work to run the program each year.