On March 11, the Geneva City Council made history when they held their regular monthly meeting on campus. At the top of the evening’s agenda were briefs from several Hobart and William Smith students who spent the fall semester working within the Geneva community to explore a variety of local issues.
“These students have invested a piece of themselves in Geneva,” said Geneva Mayor Stu Einstein during the meeting. “This is a big deal to us, and I hope that having a City Council meeting on campus shows how seriously we’re taking their projects.”
Einstein spoke about the beneficial relationship between the City and HWS. He presented President Mark D. Gearan with the City’s flag. Gearan spoke briefly about how our past and futures are intertwined. Katie Flowers, associate Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, spoke about how these projects are incredible collaborations because students, community partners and faculty come together to improve the place in which we all live, study and work.
The following students presented their fall semester research:
Sarah Holland ’09 – worked with Geneva Mayor Stu Einstein to map out all of the public and private green spaces in Geneva. She determined that access to green space in Geneva isn’t linked to socio-economic status but she did find some areas where the City could be utilizing the green spaces better. Hollard worked on her project with Associate Professor of Environmental Science Tom Drennen.
Casey Marshall ’09 – worked with Assistant Professor of Psychology Julie Kingery and Jane Gerling from Success for Geneva’s Children on the Kindergarten Literacy Initiative Project. Marshall, Kingery and Gerling spoke with the children and their parents on the first day of school to determine how certain factors (socio-economic status, whether the parents read to the children, whether the parents read for pleasure, whether they frequently visit the library) impact literacy. Their research will be used by the Geneva Reads initiative. Also, Marshall has continued pursuing this work as an honors project. She’ll interview the students again at the end of their school year to see how or if they have progressed.
Kayla Shoemaker ’10 – worked with Associate Professor of Architecture Stan Mathews to compare Geneva, N.Y., to Travis City, Mich. The two are similar in some key ways, but Travis City has a thriving downtown area and booming tourism. She wrote a report with several recommendations of initiatives Geneva could undertake to bolster its own downtown area.
Austin Kana ’09 — worked with City officials to create a comprehensive energy efficiency audit for all of the Geneva City government and the Geneva School District buildings. Kana’s interest in energy audits began last summer during an internship in the Boston-area with the Environmental Protection Agency. He also encouraged the City to hire an engineer to discover why the Public Safety building uses so much more energy than comparable facilities. Kana worked with Associate Professor of Environmental Science Tom Drennen on his project.
Sophomores Samantha Tripoli, Stephanie Soybel, Emily Dingley and Amanda Slack- worked with Janelle Toner in the Recreation Department to determine alternate uses for the ice rink. They recommended hosting trade shows and a food and wine expo in there. The group worked with Professor of Sociology Jack Harris.
Susan Kridler ’11- worked with the City planning office to look at ways Geneva could be more bike-friendly. She relied on a lot of research previously done by Ithaca, and in the end recommended that Geneva was already a very bike-friendly city, although if the city plans to remodel 5 & 20, they might consider adding a bike lane. Associate Professor of Environmental Science Tom Drennen assisted with this project.
“These are living, breathing projects and the conversations that they spark continue long after the semester is over,” said Flowers. “I believe that students learn better when they’re actively involved in their learning, and the community is also elevated by their work. As these projects continue, semester after semester, we will begin to make huge strides forward and see the impact of student work in the community.”
In the photo above Holland makes her presentation to City Council.