Sarah Katz ’16 spent her summer at Colgate working with Friends of Rogers through the Upstate Institute Summer Field School. Friends of Rogers is an organization that operates and provides community programming at the Rogers Environmental Education Center in nearby Sherburne. The organization is working to develop a way to evaluate programming offered by the Center and gather information on ways to increase successful programming at Rogers. They are looking at how their school field trip programs operate and determining ways to increase enrollment in programs for students during the year.
Sarah collected data on the many programs by contacting school administrators and teachers with a short survey designed to identify obstacles that teachers encounter when organizing field trips. She also developed tools that will allow Friends of Rogers to implement a series of surveys to continue data collection after Sarah’s project is completed. The tools will collect quantitative data that might show barriers for school trips and participant responses to family and childrens’ programs such as the Rogers Adventure Series Summer Camp. Sarah also worked in conjunction with Colgate’s Grant Office to research possible future funding sources for the Center. She identified possible funds, researched the preliminary matches, and reported on potential grantmakers to the executive director. Sarah said of the experience that, “as a geology major, my work at the Rogers Environmental Education Center has shown me how future work or research that I may produce can be important to the public. Throughout this project, I have learned how to evaluate progress made by an organization that does not rely on fiscal gain as a singular sign of success. I have had to think of creative ways to gather and express qualitative data as quantitative. Using this information, I have had to make suggestions for changes to increase the level of programming offered by my community partner. These tasks all required me to expand upon my traditional ways of thinking and reevaluate my standard methods of data collection so that I could provide my organization with the information they needed.”