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Summer 2010: Student field school projects

By Upstate Institute on August 15, 2010

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 2010.

Agricultural Economic Development Program

Molly Kunzman '12 at a microphone.

Molly Kunzman, ’12, worked with the Agricultural Economic Development Program

Molly Kunzman, ’12, worked with the Agricultural Economic Development Program to plan, implement, and evaluate the third annual Buy Local week. This event highlighted the benefits to the economy, environment, and agricultural community of buying locally. The week includeed three events: a Local Foods showcase, a Fresh! Gala, and an Open Farm Day. Molly promoted the event throughout the county with postcards, fliers, and press releases, recruiting volunteers, working with restaurants, and assisting during the event. After the week, she created a follow-up survey for participating farms and restaurants.

Bassett Healthcare Research Institute

Laura Bostwick, ’11, continued work on a multi-county Upstate Health and Wellness Study, which is conducted by Bassett Healthcare Research Institute every ten years. This surveys looked at access to healthcare, adult and childhood obesity, and aging in the upstate region. Laura focused on the adult obesity section of the survey, and assisted with physical measures conducted in conjunction with The National Kidney Foundation. She compared the measured height and weight data from the screenings to the reported height and weight data from the surveys and found a correction factor by age and gender for height and weight. She also wrote protocols for editing the adult obesity survey, and created a presentation on adult obesity, which included national and state statistics on obesity and some preliminary findings from the adult obesity data generated by Bassett. Her presentation looked at the correlation between obesity and sleep, obesity and smoking, and self-perception of body mass index versus actual BMI.

Central Adirondack Laboratory for Environmental Sciences

Grace O’Shea ’11 developed an educational programming plan for the Central Adirondack Laboratory for Environmental Sciences, or CALES, project. She investigated the opportunity for a K-12 outdoor education program by creating a survey for similar facilities in the Adirondacks and visiting other outdoor education centers. The survey aimed to establish annual visitation, admission pricing, educational program packages, and the capital and operating budget, as well as to gain insight to the variety and curriculum within specific educational programming.

In addition, Grace canvased local businesses in Old Forge to gauge potential partnerships for the laboratory. Old Forge sees many tourists annually, and CALES hopes to serve as an open interpretive center in order to enhance visitors’ experience with knowledge of the surrounding area. Grace created a survey and spoke with local business owners to inform them about the benefits of CALES as well as to gain a sense of strong potential partners. Eco-tourism businesses responded positively to the survey and CALES will be cultivating relations with these businesses in the future.

Chenango Canal Association

The Chenango Canal Association, based in Bouckville, aims to preserve the canal that ran from Utica to Binghamton through Hamilton in the 1800’s. The CCA also strives to make the public aware of the history of the canal, as well as maintain a towpath trail along the canal. Zach Roman ’12 put together a ten minute video to promote the canal and to gain members, volunteers and donations. The video included the history of the Chenango Canal, the history of the surrounding region and the impact of the canal in the area. Zach also reached out to members of the community who started the CCA and created the trail. In addition, Zach worked at the Hamilton Farmer’s Market every Saturday, passing out promotional materials, trying to recruit new members, and increasing the visibility of the Chenango Canal Association.

Chenango Greenway Conservancy

The Chenango Greenway Conservancy is working to complete a trail system in and around the town of Norwich where people can walk, jog, or run safely and enjoy the outdoors. Zach Roman ’12 worked on a project that will ultimately result in a series of different trails connecting Utica and Binghamton, allowing people to walk or bike the 97 mile distance between the two cities. The Chenango Canal Heritage Trail roughly follows the path of the old Chenango Canal. Zach contacted various people throughout the area to gain knowledge of existing trails, then put that information on an editable map. Zach worked with his supervisor, Tom Holmes, to add possible bike and walking trails to the map. Zach’s work will aid the development of a trail system between Utica and Binghamton.

Earlville Opera House

Nicole Beletsky ’10 collected and analyzed information about the success of the Earlville Opera House’s media outreach efforts. Nicole edited and distributed a written survey during in-house events and conducted verbal interviews to find out how attendees learn about events at the Earlville Opera House. This information was collated with age and geographic location to help determine marketing techniques which would successfully continue to reach those already attending events as well as others.

The geographic information was particularly important to the organization as a measure of tourism trends in the region. Nicole also attempted to measure the interest and involvement of the immediate Earlville community with the Opera House through a specific outreach survey for Earlville residents. She assessed new proposals for a name-brand change to appeal to younger members of the community who might assume a particular type of programming associated with “Opera.” Nicole’s projects culminated in a final assessment of successful marketing and suggestions for future outreach efforts.

The Kelberman Center

The Kelberman Center is a regional center for excellence for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and related learning challenges. Erin Nash ’12 worked at the center’s Awesome Summer Days Camp, a camp designed for children with some form of Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) between ages five and fifteen.

The main objective of the camp is to provide children with a fun, safe environment through organized indoor and outdoor activities and daily social skills lessons. Erin helped prepare many logistical aspects of camp, such as camper packets. She also reviewed the camper applications and created specific social skills goals for each of the fifty-six campers and designed a counselor performance evaluation.

Additionally, Erin completed research projects about college programs for students with ASD, the use of Lego robotics as a therapeutic technique, and ski programs for the developmentally disabled. She wrote four journal article reviews for the Kelberman Center, which were published in their monthly newsletter about current autism research. Erin also worked as a counselor for the camp with a group of eight children, ranging in age from seven to nine years old. She led camp activities and taught social skills lessons to the campers.

Through her fellowship at the Kelberman Center, Erin gained invaluable experience working with children who have developmental disabilities.

MAD Art, Inc.

Caroline Johnson ’11 worked with MAD Art, Inc., a community art space in Hamilton that aims to increase the visibility and appreciation of the arts in Central New York, provide arts education programming, and give local artists a space to exhibit and sell their work. Caroline helped coordinate a silent auction and art sale on July 8th, the night of the Syracuse Symphony on the Hamilton Village Green. She asked MAD Art members and artists, as well as town businesses, to donate art, items, and services, then organized the donation inventory.

Johnson also organized volunteers for the event and distributed posters and postcards around town. Caroline staffed the MAD Art gallery daily during extended summer hours to increase visitors and financial revenue. The auction earned funds for educational programming and gave MAD Art a greater presence in the community.

Department of Social Services

Jack Daly '12 outside the Department of Social Services

Jack Daly ’12 worked with the Madison County Department of Social Services

The Department of Social Services administers a variety of programs that ensure the health and safety of individuals and families in Madison County. Jack Daly ’12 completed two projects for the DSS. First Jack researched the state law regarding Safe Haven locations, which are locations where a parent who can no longer care for a child may leave him or her safely. Jack also gathered more information about the laws in other states as well as criticisms of these laws so as to fully consider the options available to DSS and how the law might be implemented in Madison County.

Jack’s research will allow Madison County to designate one or more Safe Haven locations. Jack’s second project was an analysis of new applicants to DSS during 2009 in an effort to understand the emerging population and the impact of the recession in Madison County. Jack gathered demographic information about new applicants, such as the programs to which they applied, the ages of the applicants, and where they lived. Jack then mailed a letter to all of the new applicants asking for their help in understanding why they applied for assistance and interviewed the applicants who responded to gain a more personal idea of what circumstances led them to apply.

Jack compiled a report and presented it to the DSS Commissioner and staff. He also presented some of his data at the New York Public Welfare Association Summer Conference in front of representatives from departments all across the state.

Madison County Planning Department

Michael Palmer ’10 partnered with the Madison County Planning Department to investigate trends in natural gas leasing in Madison County. The leases were public information but the information had not been collected or analyzed by the county. Michael learned that since 1995, 84,000 acres of land have been leased in Madison County. He also discovered that the leases are distributed throughout the county but are concentrated in the South and in the West and roughly half of the leases are still in their primary term. Michael presented the lease analysis to the Energy Committee. He created several maps and charts and compiled the lease information in a GIS database for the Planning Department’s use.

Madison-Oneida Board of Cooperative Educational Services

The Madison-Oneida Board of Cooperative Educational Services provides programs, services, and resources that schools might not be able to afford otherwise. Samantha Rocks ’11 worked with MO BOCES to conduct research on the experiences of children under the age of five in Madison County. MO BOCES is applying for a Healthy Students/Safe Schools Initiative, a federal grant awarded to Local Educational Agencies that partner with their local public mental health, law enforcement, and juvenile justice agencies to improve the well-being of students in their communities.

One element of this community-wide plan focuses on Early Childhood Social and Emotional Supports. Since there was not much information gathered on children before they reach school age, Samantha met with program directors and administrators from various agencies and services in Madison County and gathered data on what services they provide for children under the age of five.

Samantha gave a presentation of her findings to members of the Madison County Early Childhood Committee and other county representatives and also prepared a written report of the information. The report identifies gaps in the services that are available to children in Madison County so that people involved in the grant can create programs that will better meet the needs of children under age five.

National Abolition Hall of Fame

Moanna Fogg '10

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

Moana Fogg ’10 worked on various projects for the National Abolition Hall of Fame. She conducted an extensive research project on the affiliates of NAHOF’s newest inductees, Lewis Tappan and Theodore Weld. Moana wrote sponsorship letters to all of the affiliates, asking them for financial support for the installation of the museum’s newest exhibits. She also wrote the text for the museum’s new banners on Weld and Tappan, which will be unveiled to the public in October 2010. Moana helped set up a new office for NAHOF in their recently renovated Smithfield Community Center. She also helped run several cultural heritage events in Peterboro this summer, including Civil War Weekend, Madison County Holstein History Day, Emancipation Day, and several NAHOF Open Houses, and participated in the Chittenango OZ Parade, hoping to find future partnerships for NAHOF. Moana assisted with the event planning of NAHOF’s Third Biannual Commemoration Event, which will take place October 2010 in Peterboro, and performed for the 160th Anniversary of the Cazenovia Fugitive Law Convention.

Oneida County Historical Society

Caroline Johnson ’11 completed the digitization of the Utica Saturday Globe newspaper collection, the first weekly paper in the country to use color illustrations, for the Oneida County Historical Society. Caroline titled digital images of each page by date of issue and page number and then organized all the pages into folders organized by year. Caroline also made a chart for OCHS that listed which years were missing pages or issues. Researchers at OCHS can now find information from the Globe easily if they know a general time frame or specific date. Caroline also created an exhibit for the OCHS museum about the Globe that consisted of framed newspaper pages and text panels highlighting different themes and telling the story of the newspaper’s development to museum visitors. The Saturday Globe, while an integral part of the museum’s collection, had not been exhibited to the public before.

RSVP Volunteers for Madison County

Rashesh Shrestha ’11 created seven videos of volunteer interviews that are now on RSVP Volunteers for Madison County’s website. The videos feature volunteers describing their experiences and why they volunteer, and will be used as marketing materials to attract more volunteers. Rashesh also researched the potential of the baby boomers to volunteer. He considered the specific needs of this age group and also particular volunteer opportunities that would help organization meet their goals as well as align with the needs and values of the baby boomers. Rashesh reviewed existing literature on baby boomers and volunteering, then composed a summary to help RSVP attract baby boomer volunteers.

United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica

Kate Briscoe '12 at her desk with the United Way.

Kate Briscoe ’12 worked with the United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica.

Kate Briscoe ’12, worked with the United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica by researching programs for the United Way’s new Building Tomorrow Together initiative, which is set to begin in 2011. She researched the strategies and funded programs supported by other United Ways nationwide in order to create specific investment plans and strategies for the United Way of Greater Utica and the Valley. Her work included researching the programs implemented by United Ways with a similar demographic to the unique greater Utica community.

Her deliverables were four investment reports with programs that specifically target the United Way of Greater Utica and the Valley’s new funding areas: Maternal Care, Healthy Weights, Ready for School, and Productive Young Adults.

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