Improving Literacy Times Two – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Improving Literacy Times Two

Sophomore Daniel Budmen was inspired by renowned anthropologist Jane Goodall to create a project to increase children’s environmental literacy and knowledge about the ecology of the Finger Lakes. His twin brother Peter sees a career in education in his future and would like to work with Head Start to improve children’s early literacy skills. Each will now have the opportunity to see their projects to fruition, thanks to awards from the Centennial Center for Leadership (CCL).

Daniel has been awarded the Centennial Leadership Fellowship in the amount of $5,000 to design a tree nursery at the Geneva Community Center in an effort to further children’s environmental literacy while improving the local environment. Peter has been awarded a Cohen Fellowship in the amount of $2,000 to secure resources and develop a curriculum that encourages Head Start children at West Street School to continue their learning at home while further developing literacy skills and engaging parents. The two brothers submitted compelling proposals to the Centennial Center for Leadership in support of their projects.

“The Centennial Center for Leadership and the selection committee were pleased by how strong and well developed the proposals were this year. Peter and Daniel distinguished themselves by their comprehensive research, potential for significant and sustainable community impact and clear implementation plans,” says Susan Pliner, associate dean for teaching, learning, and assessment and director of the Centennial Center for Leadership, who notes the majority of proposals received were focused on contributing to the improvement of the Geneva community. “Peter and Daniel both represent the Colleges commitment to service and leadership, especially with contributions to the Geneva 2020 initiative. Both proposals are focused towards making an impact on literacy and engagement through learning. We are proud of the projects our students pursue as well as their passion for taking on leadership roles in order to create positive change.”

Centennial Leadership Fellowships are made possible by the generosity and commitment of donors who, in honor of the 100th anniversary of William Smith College, wish to ensure that extraordinary opportunities will be available to Hobart and William Smith students for generations to come.

As the recipient of a Centennial Leadership Fellowship, Daniel’s proposal outlined the design and construction of a greenhouse in which he and members of the Ontario County Roots and Shoots organization – the local chapter of a children’s environmental organization started by Jane Goodall – will plant native and other locally grown trees. Students will participate in the care of the seeds and saplings. Lessons in the environment, the history of trees in the Finger Lakes, research on local tree species and a history of nurseryman William Smith will help develop children’s environmental literacy. The trees will be planted within the Finger Lakes area to improve the local environment.

“The Centennial Fellowship means opportunity for more and more people – including myself,” says Daniel. “The trees that will be planted in the Finger Lakes region are very similar to the kids who will be growing them, unique. Through the growing of trees, students will learn to respect individuality and the environment, both the social and the natural, in which we all exist.”

The Cohen Fellowship is made possible by the generosity and commitment of Dr. Stephen Cohen ’67, HWS Trustee, who wishes to ensure that extraordinary opportunities are made available to Hobart and William Smith students to grow and develop their leadership skills.

Peter will use grant funding to create Playaway backpack kits for use by children and families in the Head Start program at West Street School. Playaway devices are durable and portable literary media devices that come preloaded with materials. Peter will help Head Start staff choose materials for the Playaway devices, develop a curriculum to accompany the materials and introduce families to them so they can fully utilize the resources at home. By creating this opportunity for home literacy efforts and engaging parents, the program expects to help further develop literacy skills. This project will also help advance the literacy goals of the Geneva 2020 initiative. In addition to the Cohen Fellowship, this project will soon be included among those to which the public can donate through

“The opportunities Hobart and William Smith have presented me with and the exposure I received to both the Head Start program and the education profession has inspired me to help programs such as Head Start and become a teacher myself,” says Peter. “The day this fellowship was announced I received e-mail after e-mail, text message after text message, and congratulatory statements from face-to-face interactions. These warm and sincere comments from friends, strangers, and professors make me proud to be part of the HWS community, the Geneva community, and my family.”

Both are actively involved with The Centennial Center for Leadership, are resident assistants and student workers with the office of admissions. Daniel is a geoscience and public policy major and minors in environmental studies. He volunteers with Roots and Shoots. Peter is a biology major and child advocacy minor. He is a student worker at the field house and volunteers at Geneva West Street Head Start.