Monica Murphy ’16 is working with two organizations that preserve and promote a local trail as an historic and public recreation site. The Chenango Canal Association, located in Bouckville, works to preserve the canal, surrounding waters and lands and maintains five miles of trail along the canal towpath and three miles of trail extension in the Village of Hamilton. Similarly, the Chenango Greenway Conservancy, located in Norwich, maintains a series of public recreational trails along the Chenango River, the former Ontario & Western Railroad, and the historic corridor of the Chenango Canal, and focuses on establishing a Riverwalk Trail in Norwich.
Monica is helping the Chenango Canal Association board to develop sustainable practices for event planning and membership, and is helping the group digitize their files and create informational audio files for Madison County’s OnCell mobile tour project. By using social media sites, she is hoping to attract a larger member base and pool of volunteers for the CCA. Since the CCA is always in need of volunteers to maintain the trails, Monica hopes that by creating additional avenues for volunteer recruitment she can leave them with additional sources of volunteer help for special events and trail maintenance days. By digitizing CCA’s files, she hopes to make it easier for new board members to access information and ensure that the CCA will remain an active and involved organization in the community.
For the Greenway, she is creating a series of interpretive signs to be placed along the greenway trail that tell the history of Norwich to attract people to the trail and encourage community interest in the use and upkeep of the trail. Like the CCA, the Greenway is always in need of volunteers for special events and trail upkeep, so Monica hopes that the work she completes on the signs will create additional interest among community members to participate and volunteer in the organization’s efforts.
Both projects have required her to create maps using GIS (geographic information systems) software, which is often utilized at Colgate in Geography and Environmental Studies courses. Monica had no previous experience using this software, so the projects have given her an opportunity to begin to explore the ways in which this software can be useful, and this skill will undoubtedly be helpful for her in future semesters when she studies these areas.
Her work with these organizations has also given her an idea of what it’s like to work for a community mon-profit organization. Monica says, “As I’m trying to figure out what kind of career I might want in the future these types of experiences are incredibly valuable. By working for the Chenango Canal Association and the Chenango Greenway Conservancy I’ve had the opportunity to learn about applying for grants, community development, running a board of directors, and maintaining a volunteer based organization. If I decide to work in non-profits or NGOs after graduation I’ll have a solid foundation upon which I can build.”