Joe Gibson, program director for One-to-One Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ithaca and Tompkins County, left, talks with Zoe Ponterio, data manager for the Spacecraft Planetary Imaging Facility, at the Town-Gown Resource Fair.

Area higher education institutions highlight public programming

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Lindsey Hadlock

Norbert McCloskey, left, executive director of the Ithaca Health Alliance talks with Mike Roberts, natural areas steward for Cornell Botanic Gardens.

The fourth annual Town-Gown Resource Fair drew wide interest from around the community, including educators looking for potential field trip destinations and learning activities for their elementary or secondary school children; residents interested in new places to take visiting relatives; members of social and governmental agencies seeking partners for initiatives.

This year’s resource fair, held Oct. 27 at Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga (TST) BOCES, featured representatives from 26 Cornell departments or programs, Ithaca College engagement programs, Tompkins Cortland Community College’s admissions and corporate and community partnerships offices and TST BOCES’s adult education program.

Representatives shared their programs and resources and learned about the outreach and engagement efforts of their peers.

“My position in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business is a new one,” said Candace Maxian, assistant director for public engagement. “Many of our students already are engaged with the local community, making a real impact by serving on the boards of nonprofits in town. At the resource fair, I’ve been able to meet staff from local organizations, helping them understand that we in the business college are focusing our students on the importance of engaging with the community and fulfilling part of our land-grant mission.”

From Cornell’s Skorton Center for Health Initiatives, Laura Santacrose, assistant director, and Grace Robbins, senior public health fellow, staffed a Cornell Health table. “Part of the Skorton Center's mission is public engagement so that we can share what we've learned and developed with the broader community. The resource fair provides a good opportunity for us to connect with community members and organizations,” said Santacrose.

Norbert McCloskey, executive director of the Ithaca Health Alliance, said this was his first resource fair. “It’s good to see the extent of the offerings from Cornell and Ithaca College and to introduce our services,” he said. Similarly, Joan Jurkowich, planning administrator for Tompkins County’s Department of Planning and Sustainability, said she gained a better understanding of the range of Cornell’s involvement with the community.

The public can tap into a wide range of expertise at Cornell, which offers many outreach programs. Among the popular offices and programs represented at the fair were the Spacecraft Planetary Imaging Facility (SPIF), the Cornell Raptor Program, the Cornell Botanic Gardens, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Cornell University Library and Cornell University Police. The library, for instance, can issue library borrower cards to any library on the state side to New York state residents and can work with public libraries on specialized queries. The SPIF and Cornell Botanic Gardens offer tours and lectures, and the Cornell Raptor Program offers formal and informal presentations.

Stephanie Abrahams, who teaches life skills at TST-BOCES, said she discovered many tour possibilities and things to do with her students. “I’m very excited,” she said.

The Town-Gown Resource Fair is sponsored by Cornell’s Office of Community Relations.


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Nancy Doolittle