Over the course of the past year Cornell University initiated four Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). MOOCs are different than typical online courses because they are open to public access and are not limited in the amount of students they can reach.

Dr. Marianne Krasny, Professor and Director of the Civic Ecology Lab in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University, has been involved with the growing MOOC program at Cornell and is teaching the course Civic Ecology: Reclaiming Broken Places, which will cover human interaction with ecological systems and provide service learning opportunities.

“If you look at them as ways that people who are motivated can learn at their own pace and what they’re interested in, I think they’re effective and serve a role there,” Krasny says. The excitement expressed by Krasny is shared by professors from various other institutions as well. Many hope that the MOOCs will provide lots of new opportunities to students who might not have otherwise been able to take traditional courses.

To learn more about Dr. Marianne Krasny’s work with MOOCs, check out this article.

This weekend marked the 127th Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) Annual Meeting. This year, the APLU awarded two national winners, six regional honorees, and two new teacher honorees. These awards are presented to honor the awardees for their “scholarship, exemplary pedagogy and personal dedication” as well as their “innovative teaching methods and service to students.” The teaching awards are sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and APLU. The awards provide stipends of $5,000 for the national winners and $2,000 for regional and new teacher honorees to assist the awardees in improving teaching at their universities.

Dr. James P. “Jim” Lassoie, International Professor of Conservation and member of the Cornell University Department of Natural Resources, was one of the six individuals to receive the 2014 Regional Teacher award as part of the Excellence in College and University Teaching Awards For Food and Agricultural Sciences. In addition to the excellence demonstrated by Dr. Lassoie in the aforementioned areas, he was specifically selected for his work with the “design and development of 13 different interdisciplinary courses covering a variety of subjects including agroforestry, conservation, eco-agriculture, environmental sciences, and sustainable development.”

Congratulations, Dr. Lassoie, for this incredible achievement!

For more information about Dr. Jim Lassoie’s accomplishments and the award, please check out the links below.
CALS article
APLU article

Dr. Tom Gavin, Professor Emeritus, just returned from Taiwan, where he spent two weeks teaching at National Taiwan University (NTU) at the invitation of his former student, Hsiao-wei Yuan. Hsiao-wei is now Chair of the Department of Forestry and Resource Management, where Tom taught a short course on Current Topics in Conservation Biology; about 17 students took the course, most of them grad students in wildlife biology.

In addition, Tom went on numerous field trips with the class and with grad students to visit their projects. He visited sites where conflicts arise between land use, mainly agriculture, and conservation of biodiversity on Kinmen Island, Neidong National Forest, and numerous locations near Taipei. He also had a small reunion with students from a course he helped lead two years ago, and he attended a dinner of Taiwanese business and university leaders who were all Cornell alumni. He also paid a courtesy visit to the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, who he first met in 2012. There are many opportunities to lecture or teach at NTU, where they encourage foreign scholars to spend time at this excellent university.

If interested in learning more about this very user-friendly experience, please contact: Dr. Thomas A. Gavin, 607-272-4081 or email tag1@cornell.edu.

Shorna B. Allred, an Associate Professor in the Department of Natural Resources, recently led a Cornell University research team in developing survey questions regarding climate change. The survey questions were used in the 2014 Empire State Poll administered by the Survey Research Institute at Cornell.

Results indicated that respondents’ desire to take action depended on their knowledge and experiences with climate change. While over 80 percent of New Yorkers surveyed believe climate change is happening, less than one percent of respondents believe it is the most pressing issue faced by the state.

For more information about Shorna B. Allred’s work and the survey results, please check out this article on the Atkinson Center Blog.

In a recent editorial piece for The Hill entitled “Avoiding the path to zero”, Amanda Rodewald addressed the ever-present threat of bird extinctions. Amanda Rodewald is the director of conservation science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, faculty fellow at Cornell University’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, an associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University, and a Robert F. Schumann Faculty Fellow. In her editorial, Rodewald looked at four grand species of grouse which are already suffering from extremely low population sizes. She emphasized the point that while extinctions (such as that of the passenger pigeon) may seem unlikely with modern ecological knowledge, we are closer to that precipice than we may think. In light of the recently issued State of the Birds report, Rodewald identified five major ways to help save America’s bird populations:

  1. “Fully fund key bird conservation legislation, such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act.
  2. Increase the price of the Duck Stamp to $25 as supported by Ducks Unlimited and other conservation groups.
  3. Sign the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels treaty that endorses bird-friendly ocean fishing.
  4. Support successful conservation programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Migratory Bird Joint Ventures and State and Tribal Wildlife Grants.
  5. Keep promises made in the Farm Bill by appropriating amounts authorized for conservation.”

(List taken directly from “Avoiding the path to zero” by Amanda Rodewald)

Please read the full article written by Amanda Rodewald here: “Avoiding the path to zero”

For more information about Rodewald’s work with The Hill check out this link!

This year the Environmental Science and Sustainability (ESS) major welcomed its largest and most diverse class yet. A total of 97 students joined the ESS major this academic year.

The ESS Class of 2018 consists of 73 students from 14 US states and six countries. Approximately half of the class of 2018 is from New York State, 30 students are from 13 other states (CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IL, MA, MD, MI, NC, NJ, PA, TX) and 11 students are from five other countries (Canada, China, Italy, Saudi Arabia, and Taiwan). Additionally, 24 transfer students from 23 different colleges joined the ESS major this year. Most students transferred from colleges within New York State, but students also transferred from 10 different states (PA, IL, CT, NJ, FL, WA, AL, VA, CA, MA) and one other country (China).

The incoming students thoroughly enjoyed themselves during the ESS orientation program. They had the opportunity to meet with other ESS students during a luncheon. “The older students in ESS were very nice,” said one student, “and they answered all my questions!”

Afterwards, new students went to meet their advisors and learn more about the ESS program. The new students had a great time getting to know their professors and advisors. They were excited to have the opportunity to meet their professors before the start of class, and to see who they would be taking classes with in the future.

“I think the thing that stuck with me the most about orientation was the passion and enthusiasm that every faculty member who spoke to us possessed,” said Emma Dietz, Class of 2018, “their excitement was inspiring, and really made me feel lucky to be spending my next four years at Cornell.”

“Meeting my professors really stood out for me,” said Hailey Aleman, “not only were future professors there, but some I would be working with on the first day of classes!”

Abby Kawola said, “The camaraderie among all the professors was nice to see. You could tell how passionate they are about their fields of study and it made me excited to learn from them!”

Overall, ESS orientation was an exciting moment for students and faculty alike, and we are thrilled to welcome so many new students to the major!

Welcome to Cornell and ESS!
ESS Class of 2018

This summer 11 Cornell students had the opportunity to enrich their academic experience and gain valuable career skills through the Cornell Plantations Internship Program.  They’ve now launched a crowdfunding project to raise $10,000 by  Sept. 30 for next summer’s program Please check out this link crowdfunding.cornell.edu/plantations for even more information!

Student-Centered

The Plantations Internship Program is open only to Cornell University undergraduate and graduate students. While most interns are majoring in horticulture, plant sciences, natural resources, or landscape architecture, Plantations also encourages applications from anyone who wants to learn more about plants, conservation, or environmental sustainability.

Learning and Experience-Focused

Each intern sets individual learning goals for their summer experience—and our  mentors on the Plantations staff are committed to making sure that we achieve them. We are considered to be members of the Plantations staff and work closely with their professional gardeners, conservators, and educators to meet our goals while advancing Plantations’ mission.

Wide-Ranging Experience

Plantations offers internships in education, horticulture, and natural areas, plus a position in marketing and communications. To provide all of us with a broad overview of what it takes to run a public garden and manage a system of natural areas, Mondays are reserved for field trips and special learning opportunities as a group. Some of our favorite Learning Mondays were “Bog Day” with Plantations’ field botanist; stonework and heavy equipment operations with the landscape construction team; GIS mapping with the plant records specialist; integrated pest management and greenhouse production work; and pruning and tree maintenance with the master arborist. We also had workshops on botanical illustration and digital photography.

“Earn While You Learn” 

Unlike many internships in the corporate sector, the Plantations internships are paid, full-time positions for a 12-week period each summer. The current cost of the program is $5,500 per intern, which includes the student’s wages, program expenses for field trips and group workshops, equipment and materials, and the coordinator’s salary.

Why We Need Your Help!

Plantations has funding for 6 positions with income from permanent endowments and annual commitments from generous donors, and has funded additional positions each year with money from unrestricted Annual Fund gifts. (Thanks to special one-time grants, they were able to offer 11 positions this summer.)  But with rising costs and increased pressure on the general operating budget, Plantations needs to raise $10,000 in order to be able to offer at least 8 internships in summer 2015. Your gift—at any level—will help us reach our goal and ensure funding for 2 internships next year.  Please give now!

On August 25, 2014 a 7-foot-long Sturgeon officially became part of the The Great Shipwrecks of NY’s ‘Great’ Lakes Signature Exhibit presented by New York Sea Grant and The Great New York State Fair. The addition of the sturgeon to the Great Lakes exhibit provides a wonderful opportunity for the public to learn about the sturgeon, which is a keystone fish both locally and globally. Tom Brooking, a Cornell Fisheries Biologist and volunteer for NY Sturgeon for tomorrow, says that “Being part of this Great Shipwrecks at the State Fair is a wonderful opportunity to educate the public about New York State Department of Environmental Conservation efforts to re-establish the fish in such numbers that it can be removed from Threatened and Endangered Species list.”

If you would like to learn more about the exhibit, the sturgeon, and The Great New York State Fair, check out these links!
NY Sturgeon for Tomorrow Facebook Page (a non profit organization with some great links!)
StarNews Daily article
Great Shipwreck’s of NY’s “Great” Lakes article

Ishani

On July 10, 2014 at the National University of Singapore, Ishani Mukherjee received the World Future Foundation PhD Prize, a $10,000 award in Environmental & Sustainable Research.  Ishani did her B.S. (2004) in the Department of Natural Resources and was a M.S. (2006) student with Dr. James Lassoie.  For more details concerning Ishani’s award, see:  http://lkyspp.nus.edu.sg/news/ishani-mukherjee-receives-world-future-foundation-phd-prize-in-environmental-sustainability-research/.

Congratulations, Ishani!!

James LassoieJim Lassoie is the recipient of the Innovative Teaching in International Agriculture and Rural Development Grant by International Programs, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.  This $3000 award will be used to fund the logistical and curriculum development of a three week service trip to Ecuador.  This trip is offered as a part of IARD/LATA 4011/6011 “Experience Latin America – Ecuador Edition I/II”, a two-course sequence, fall and spring semesters, 3 credits each.  For more details concerning this award and “Experience Latin America – Ecuador Edition I/II”, see http://blogs.cornell.edu/ipcals/2014/08/05/james-lassoie-is-awarded-ip-cals-innovative-teaching-grant/

Congratulations, Jim!

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