From breast cancer to recycling textiles: human Ecology student interns address challenges facing central New York communities.
Subject: Student service (Appreciation)
Social networks (Appreciation)
Pub Date: 11/01/2008
Publication: Name: Human Ecology Publisher: Cornell University, Human Ecology Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Science and technology; Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 Cornell University, Human Ecology ISSN: 1530-7069
Issue: Date: Nov, 2008 Source Volume: 36 Source Issue: 2
Geographic: Geographic Scope: New York Geographic Code: 1U2NY New York
Accession Number: 231021645
Full Text: Six students worked in New York communities last summer to apply the findings of Human Ecology research--ultimately bringing together the college's education, research, and outreach initiatives.

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Now in its second year, the program is a partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension, It gives students the opportunity to work independently to address a challenge facing central New York communities. This year, students worked on issues ranging from breast cancer risks to recycling textiles. Here's a snapshot of how each of them spent the summer.

Name: Nicole Castelli, Fiber Science & Apparel Design

Internship: Life Cycle Analysis of Textiles and Apparel

Worked on ... I assisted with and taught two workshops to youth and teenagers on how to redesign clothing--everything from T-shirts to dresses and pants--rather than throw away old clothing and buy new. I also compiled a list of businesses and web sites that dealt with recycling clothing, using eco-friendly fabrics, redesigning used clothing, and other "green" textile practices.

What was the most valuable thing you learned? "I learned a lot about how to present myself and how to teach. I've never had to lead a group before--it was a fun experience! It was rewarding to show youth new ways to recycle and teach them about the importance of recycling."

Name: Joran Sequeira, Human Biology, Health and Society

Internship: Research Intern for the Collaboration for Health, Activity, and Nutrition in Children's Environments (CHANCE) Study

Worked on ... validating the study's behavioral checklist by interviewing eligible parents to learn about their families' food and physical activity choices.

How do you feel you made a difference in the community where you worked? "CHANCE is a nutrition education program for low-income parents. The questionnaire I worked on shows how much parents have gained from the program. It was incredibly gratifying to see the impact of CHANCE on these parents. The nutritional concepts and parenting practices taught will stay with me and serve a greater purpose when I have a family."

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Name: Laura Tomczik, Nutritional Sciences

Internship: CHANCE - Collaboration for Health, Activity, and Nutrition in Children's Environments, an effort to reduce childhood obesity.

Worked on ... collecting and analyzing qualitative data about marketing strategies from project and partner agency staff, including Cornell Cooperative Extension, Head Start, Even Start, and child care programs. I also reviewed curriculum and program posters that are used as teaching tools in working with parents.

What was the most valuable thing you learned from the experience? "I enjoyed working with the curriculum because these are the materials that families will actually use. It makes so much sense to combine parenting and nutrition information."

Name: Katherine Baumann, Human Development

Internship: Family Life Development Center Program Assistant

Worked on ... conducting research on a home-visit nursing program that helps teenage mothers and designing evaluations for a parenting class. I also developed a literature database on the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

What was the most valuable thing you learned from the experience? "I had a unique vantage point this summer in being involved in both the real-life implementation of community programs as well as the behind-the-scenes research work on it. Viewing the juxtaposition between those two separate, yet connected, worlds gave me a better appreciation for all aspects of the work."

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Name: Rosalea Taam, Human Biology, Health and Society

Internship: Children and Nature Research and Outreach Assistant

Worked on ... evaluating an after-school program run by Cornell Cooperative Extension called "Urban Forest Adventures" designed to get more kids outside and encourage them to enjoy nature. My role was to conduct interviews with the kids, observe the program, and talk to program leaders to understand the program's impact on kids.

What was the most valuable thing you learned from the experience? "I learned about the benefits and straggles that an outreach program encounters, and I learned the importance of building relationships within the community when you're developing outreach programs."

Name: Christian Cerrada, Human Development

Internship: Community Mobilization for Youth Mentorship

Worked on ... developing a resource guide of service-learning projects to encourage local towns to increase youth connectedness to their community. I also attended a focus group to evaluate a course on interviewing skills taught at a local high school to help youth interact with adults in their community.

How do you feel you made a difference in the community where you worked? "Our project helped youth to discover and reflect on the resources they can draw upon from their own community to succeed in life. It was especially encouraging when they expressed their appreciation for the program and enthusiasm about continuing it."

Name: Laura Sugarwala, Nutritional Sciences (not pictured)

Internship: Research Assistant for the Program on Breast Cancer and Environmental Risk Factors "Small Steps Are Easier Together" Project

Worked on ... analyzing data from an initiative to prevent obesity through a work-site program that encourages employees to take walks. I interviewed participants in the walking program and organized the survey data to determine if participants increased their walking over the 10-week study.

How do you feel you made a difference in the community where you worked? "I was glad to be part of a group that works with people in rural areas to raise awareness about the importance of being active. I learned ways of thinking about how our environment dictates access to physical activity, and how important it is to make exercise an integral part of the workplace, where people spend so much time."
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