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Gabriela Bezerra ’13 conducts needs assessment with Community Action Partnership of Madison County

By Upstate Institute on July 31, 2013
Gabriela Bezerra

Gabriela Bezerra ’13 (right) and Diane Ryan, Deputy Director, are excited about CAP’s new logo at their Morrisville office.

After having an “amazing experience” immersing herself in the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees (MVRCR) and the sociopolitical and economic history of Upstate New York (NY) last summer, Gabriela Bezerra ’13 knew she wanted to participate in the Summer Field School again this year.  Through her placement creating and administering a needs assessment on behalf of Community Action Partnership (CAP) for Madison County in Morrisville, Gabriela has not only strengthened her research and communication skills, but also has learned about poverty in Madison County and the “strength and resilience” of CAP’s clients.  As a Peace and Conflict Studies major, she is well-versed in issues such as “social justice, structural violence, and the vulnerability of some people that live in the margins of society,” all of which CAP’s programs address.  Drawing upon these theories and experiences, Gabriela hopes to “have a set of analyzed data and a written report by the end of the summer that will help CAP understand better the community they seek to help.” Read more

Josh Riefler ’14 conducts study of market demand for local foods

By Upstate Institute on July 25, 2013
Josh Riefler

Josh Riefler ’14 and Beth McKellips, Director, Agricultural Economic Development, are excited to learn more about the demand for local food in Central New York.

The ‘locavore’ movement is a growing phenomenon in developed markets as consumers seek to know more about the foods they eat, amid growing concerns about sustainable agriculture and large-scale factory farms.  It would seem that here in central New York, with farms all around, there would be plenty of opportunity for folks to buy local foods.  However, even in this agricultural landscape, producers and consumers need to connect, and often these connections are difficult to maintain when the market landscape is not well-understood.  In New York, Cornell University Cooperative Extension (CCE) programs and staff are critical to supporting agriculture, in general, and are playing an increasing role in promotion of local foods.  Read more

Ryan Geisser ’14 supports Legal Aid Society in Utica, New York

By Upstate Institute on July 25, 2013
Susan Conn and Ryan Geisser

Susan Conn ’79 with Ryan Geisser ’14. Conn oversees Colgate’s Consumer Bankruptcy Law Project.

Based in Utica, the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York is a stalwart community presence for needy clients with non-criminal legal issues.  The organization covers 13 counties in the region, and is challenged to meet the demands of a geographically dispersed population.  Ryan Geisser’s Summer Field School fellowship placement with Legal Aid follows his academic year participation in the campus-based Consumer Bankruptcy Project, which engages Colgate students with analyses of cases for which Legal Aid might provide support.  “I’ve had the incredible opportunity to participate in the Consumer Bankruptcy Project for the past two years, which gave me the training and experience I needed to become eligible for the internship.”  Read more

Mae Staples ’15 Dives into Town of Hamilton Comprehensive Plan and Records Retention Projects

By Upstate Institute on July 23, 2013
Sue Reymers, Mae Staples, Carolyn Todd, Regina Sylvestri

From left to right, Sue Reymers, Mae Staples ’15, Carolyn Todd, and Regina Sylvestri preserve and forward the Town of Hamilton through the records retention project and comprehensive plan.

For small municipalities like the Town of Hamilton, major planning projects are a significant undertaking, and critical to the future of the community.  Municipalities are strongly encouraged to develop up-to-date comprehensive plans to guide development and focus resources appropriately, but the person-power to undergird planning is often wanting.  Here in the Town of Hamilton, we have talented and dedicated municipal leaders and employees who are in the midst of a serious planning effort, and Mae Staples, a molecular biology major who is a member of the class of 2015, wanted to help.  As she puts it, “I wanted to be a Field School Fellow for the first time this summer because I feel strongly about the central idea of the Upstate Institute; to be able to give back to the area in which I attend college and to explore the community I am a part of.”  Read more

Zoe Blicksilver ’14 assesses organizations funded by Chenango United Way

By Upstate Institute on July 23, 2013
Zoe Blicksilver

Zoe Blicksilver ’14 works with Chenango United Way board members to conduct over 20 mid-year site visits. Standing up from left is Kendall Drexler, Anne Drexler, Elizabeth Monaco, Chenango United Way Executive Director, Victoria Mitchell, Chenango United Way Operations Manager, and Greg Fuller. Sitting on the right next to Zoe is Charlie McMullen.

During her first summer as a Field School Fellow, Zoe Blicksilver ’14 is in the midst of 22 mid-year site visits on behalf of the Chenango United Way in Norwich.  Certified through the United Way of America since 1974, the Chenango United Way “builds partnerships and maximizes resources to improve the quality of life for local residents.”  The Chenango United Way keeps all money raised and donated local by funding Central New York organizations that incorporate the United Way’s national focus areas of income, education, and healthcare into their programs.  In Zoe’s opinion, the mid-year site visits are an essential component of the United Way’s work because they “contribute to the overall effectiveness of the organization through increasing accountability of community partners.”  Read more

Andrew Galakatos ’14 administers surveys for regional hunger assessment

By Upstate Institute on July 22, 2013
Becky Lare, Judy Lucier, and Andrew Galakatos

From left to right, Becky Lare, Public Affairs Officer at the Food Bank of CNY, Judy Lucier, pantry coordinator of the McDonough Ecumenical Food Pantry, and Andrew Galakatos ’14, are eager to learn what the regional hunger assessment will reveal.

Food is something many of us take for granted, especially if we haven’t had to decide between paying for food or for utilities one week.  According to the Food Bank of Central New York through which Andrew Galakatos ’14 is administering surveys and analyzing data for a regional hunger assessment, of the thousands who rely on food pantries and soup kitchens in central and northern New York, over 40% will choose between paying for food and paying for utilities.  The hunger assessment that Andrew and Food Bank staff members are completing aims to “educate the public and elected officials about hunger,” as well as “what types of food the clients need the most.”  In the long term, they hope the interviews and resulting data will lead to decreased stigmatization of clients, increased funding for the Food Bank’s programs, and the assurance that fewer and fewer clients are having to decide between eating dinner and staying cool. Read more

Kori Strother ’15 brings a younger voice to the Utica Phoenix at For the Good, Inc.

By Upstate Institute on July 17, 2013
Kori and Cassandra

Cassandra Harris-Lockwood (left), CEO, President, and founder of For the Good, Inc., and Kori Strother ’15, work towards the economic, nutritional, and social development of low-income residents in Utica.

As an African American and Environmental Studies double major, the array of projects Kori Strother ’15 has immersed herself in at For the Good, Inc. complement her studies and interests beautifully.  Now in the sixth week of her fellowship, she has already gained experience editing the Utica Phoenix, updating its Facebook and Twitter pages, recording local octogenarians on their memories of race relations and influences of Jazz on American culture, matting vintage photos for the developing Oneida County Black History Archive, and weeding and planting in For the Good’s two community gardens.  She will spend the remainder of her fellowship working in these areas, as well as bringing a younger voice to the Utica Phoenix through reporting and writing.  While she was initially attracted to the Upstate Institute to develop her research skills, Kori has learned more than she imagined about what goes into running a non-profit, editing a newspaper, and keeping a city that “some consider to be dead” vibrant through her work with For the Good, Inc. Read more

Pablo Sasso ’14 connects Young Scholars’ alumni through social media

By Upstate Institute on July 11, 2013
Pablo and Flossie

Pablo Sasso ’14 and Flossie Mitchell, YSLPP Director, canoeing on the Black River on a student outing.

Pablo Sasso ’14 is thrilled to be a Field School Fellow for a second time this summer.  He is working with the Young Scholars Liberty Partnerships Program (YSLPP) at Utica College, a collaborative partnership between the college and Utica City School District designed to motivate students from underprivileged social and economic backgrounds to stay in school, receive their high school diploma, and pursue higher education.  The Young Scholars Program was founded in 1993 to respond to the lack of minority students graduating from T.R. Proctor High School.  It offers academic, social, and cultural enrichment for promising 7th-12th graders, ensuring, in Pablo’s words, that “these kids have a support system through their formative years.”  Pablo’s projects aim to continue fostering that support system beyond graduation through the development of a comprehensive alumni network via various social media platforms. Read more

Megan Wickens ’14 documents and supports the life of Sculpture Space

By Upstate Institute on July 10, 2013
Megan Wickens and Monika Burczyk

Monika Burczyk, Executive Director, (left) and Megan Wickens ’14 make a great team.

As one of the Upstate Institute’s 2013 Field School Fellows, Megan Wickens ’14 feels that being an “adaptive member of the Sculpture Space staff” is the most important contribution she can make to the nonprofit organization that provides two month residencies for artists from all over the world.  She has already done that and more in the first month of her fellowship with Sculpture Space.  On any given day, she can be found planting ferns, painting toolsheds, scanning and digitizing documents, researching grants, writing blog posts, taking video footage, or attending community meetings.  Megan was initially attracted to the Field School due to her “interest and growing love for this area of the world.”  She says, “There is a great amount of talent, hard work, and community that I feel thrives in this area, yet much of it flies under the radar; especially when one is cocooned in the safety of Colgate life.  There is another 180 degrees of life here that we are not seeing as students, and I believed a summer as a Field School Fellow would give me a chance to not only see it, but also get a taste of what it is like to live it.” Read more

Lindsey Skerker ’14 assists National Abolition Hall of Fame in Peterboro, NY with marketing efforts

By Upstate Institute on July 9, 2013
Lindsey Skerker NAHOF

Lindsey with supervisor Dot Willsey (in the middle) and NAHOF board member Jessica Clarke on the right.

The National Abolition Hall of Fame (NAHOF),  located in Peterboro, NY, honors the long history of resistance to slavery rooted in the work of upstate New Yorkers during the pre-Civil War era.  Each year, NAHOF recognizes that history through induction ceremonies, and related events that underscore the commitment of 19th century abolitionists, and reinforces current efforts in the ongoing search for equality among all peoples.   Lindsey Skerker ’14 is supporting a number of NAHOF activities and programs this summer through her Upstate Institute Summer Field School fellowship.  Read more