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Summer 2009: Student field school projects

By Upstate Institute on August 15, 2009

Each summer, Colgate students remain in the region to work as field school fellows with the Upstate Institute. The fellows work with a community, government, or non-profit partner to create and complete projects that will have a positive social, economic, cultural, or environmental impact on the upstate region.

Below are a few of the community partners and projects from the summer of 2009.


Molly Gamble ’09 worked with BRiDGES on the Madison County Alcohol Environment Project. This project involved research on the alcohol environment and alcohol-related public safety issues in Madison County, which Molly used to begin a report that will be used on the BRiDGES website. She also worked with the organization’s prevention program to analyze results from schools in Madison County who participated in the American Drug and Alcohol Survey. These results were used to create informational sheets that inform students, teachers and parents about current trends in alcohol use among teens in Madison County. Finally, she worked on the organization’s Tobacco Free Madison County initiative to promote their smoke-free apartment program among landlords.

Cazenovia Area Community Development Agency

Kevin Williams ’10 built an inventory of commercial spaces in the Village of Cazenovia for the Cazenovia Area Community Development Agency, a nonprofit that seeks to preserve the rural historic character of the region through education and partnerships. This inventory included information for each property such as address, utility cost, tax information, square footage, building attributes, and historic condition. He used Google Maps API to create a dynamic map of the properties in the village, which will be housed on the agency’s website, and which can give prospective business owners a tool for evaluating commercial space.

Cazenovia Community Preschool

Paige Cross ’11 conducted a survey-based study to examine the prevalence of and attitudes towards inclusion in services for preschoolers with special needs in Chenango, Cortland, Madison, Oneida, and Onondaga counties. She examined the factors that influence the implementation of inclusion.

She surveyed and interviewed parents of Cazenovia Community Preschool, as well as officials from the five counties and more than 50 chairpersons of the Committees on Preschool Special Education. She then used statistical analysis software (SPSS) on the collected data, which will allow for an in-depth investigation into the preschool special education system and, in particular, the barriers that exist and the factors that account for the current provision of services.

Cazenovia Public Library

Raul Guerra ’09 worked with the Cazenovia Public Library to develop a website and program for preserving and sharing the library’s collection of old and new photographs of Cazenovia. He began by creating a database that held the photos and information about the buildings in the photograph. He then created a building-structure inventory to make the website useful for researchers, architects, and preservation planners. Finally, he created a virtual tour of Cazenovia, which is a clickable map linked to photos and information from the database. In order to make the virtual map practical for different organizations in Cazenovia, he allowed for the user to create, delete, and modify various virtual tours.

Chenango United Way

In 2009, Allison Bush ’09 worked with Chenango United Way to update the organization’s Community Needs Assessment, a document that was first developed in 2005 by Field School Fellow Kevin McAvey. This assessment looks at the specific needs of the county based on their social, economic and geographic demographics and is used as a tool to focus the United Way’s funding. She also conducted mid-year site visits with each of the organization’s funded programs in order to determine their progress and ensure success by year’s end. These visits provide an outlet for funded programs and the Chenango United Way to ask questions and make suggestions in order to improve their program outcomes for the organization, and allow the United Way to maintain accountability to their donors.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County

Chris Vincent '08 in the office of a community partner.

Chris Vincent ’08 worked with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County.

Chris Vincent ’08 worked for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County in the summer of 2006. He helped to produce an 10 – 15 minute video to enable farmers to professionalize their displays and customer service skills at Farmers’ Markets across the state.

He organized and implemented a statewide potato variety taste test at 50 farmers’ markets across the state with the support of Cooperative Extension staff statewide. Finally, he was involved in the creation of a new farmers’ market in the low-income Arbor Hill neighborhood of Albany.

Ho Tung Visualization Lab

Through funding from the Howard Hughes Medical InstituteKayla Sutherland ’11 worked with Claudia Johnson, a science teacher from Cazenovia High School, to create a film about the history of the environmental movement that could be shown at the Ho Tung Visualization Lab, a 55-seat theater at Colgate equipped with a digital project that allows for the projection of 3D animation on an immersive dome environment. Kayla and Claudia wrote the script for the 25 minute film, then used historic and contemporary images in Adobe AfterEffects to create the narrated film.

Iroquois Indian Museum

Claudia Piacente ’09 worked on a variety of projects with the Iroquois Indian Museum in Howes Cave, NY, which strives to display history and art of the Iroquois people while educating the public. The museum is planning to create an exhibit in January 2010 that will focus on Native Americans on stage and screen. For the exhibit, Claudia researched thirty Native American artists, composing a paragraph for each to be displayed next to their picture and/or objects. She also took part in a dig through the archaeology department at the museum and learned how to use various tools and identify and measure objects in an archaeological dig.

Madison County Department of Health

Sarah Hesler ’09 worked on Madison County’s Community Health Assessment for the Department of Health, a document that the department completes every four years. This year, the document was completed using the MAPP (Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships) process, a community driven strategic planning tool for improving community health.

Sarah completed research on environmental health issues and developed a report for the county, then compiled charts for environmental and other health data for a county data book. She surveyed clinical providers regarding access to care for the assessment, and completed a literature review. Finally, she attended and assisted as a recorder at the Health Department Health Summit where community leaders determined health priority issues to address in the next four years.

Madison County Historian

Ananya Das ’12 completed a documentary film this summer on the 170th Anniversary of the Madison County Fair with the Madison County Historian Mary Messere. The documentary covered both the history and the recent steps taken to expand the fair. To create the documentary, Avi conducted extensive research on the history of the county and the fair from newspaper archives located at the historian’s office and at Case Library at Colgate University. He also created short trailers that can be used as embedded videos on websites that promote the fair, and materials that would allow the fair to reach their intending audience through traditional marketing and social network sites.

National Abolition Hall of Fame

Moanna Fogg '10

Moanna Fogg ’10 worked with the National Abolition Hall of Fame.

Moana Fogg ’10 worked with the National Abolition Hall of Fame to plan for the 2009 Induction Ceremony, in which Theodore Dwight Weld and Lewis Tappan were inducted. To prepare for the ceremony, she developed partnerships and conducted research on the two inductees. She began a docent manual for NAHOF hosts and the Smithfield Mercantile, a community heritage shop. She was also involved with the Liberty Capital Campaign project, which seeks to secure capital fund philanthropic investments for several heritage sites in Peterboro, New York. During the ceremony itself, Moana provided introductions to several speakers and provided vocal accompaniment to the dramatic presentation.

Oneida Public Library

Rachel Solomon ’09 worked with the Madison County Roads Ahead program, a literacy project in Madison County that is housed at the Oneida Public Library. The program was in need of a system for tracking students and assessment, to be in compliance with the federal National Reporting System (NRA) and the implementation of the Adult Student Information System and Technical Support (ASISTS) database required by New York’s education department. Rachel researched these standards in adult literacy and the ASISTS software, then created a user-friendly tutor reporting system for the program.

Youth Philanthropy Council

Emily Katz '09 conversing with the Youth Philanthropy Council.

Emily Katz ’09 worked with the Youth Philanthropy Council at Norwich High School.

Emily Katz ’09 completed an assessment of the Youth Philanthropy Council, a project at Norwich High School in which high school juniors and seniors learn about the importance and impact of philanthropy in society and how philanthropists find and fund worthy causes. The program began in the fall of 2008 with 16 high school students and six Colgate student mentors.

Emily created an assessment of the program by using the online survey tools at surveymonkey.com and by interviewing the mentors and staff that facilitated the program. She analyzed the collected data and created a report that included suggested revisions for next year’s program. She also assisted in the planning of a conference on philanthropy that was held at Colgate in July. The discussions that took place as part of the conference are available on the Upstate Institute website.

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