Engaged Faculty Fellowship Program

Kristi Sullivan

Kristi SullivanA 2013 Engaged Faculty Fellow, Kristi Sullivan is an extension associate in the Department of Natural Resources in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Read her faculty profile for more information.

The Story

With her fellowship, Kristi specifically focused her project on a case study directed at engaging Master Naturalist volunteers in efforts to aid fellow Master Naturalists affected by Hurricane Sandy.  Many of the program’s current trainees and participants are from the lower Hudson Valley region of New York, New York City, and Long Island.  Recently, Hurricane Sandy brought devastation to these areas.  In addition to personal losses, some Master Naturalists reported impacts to the places where they volunteer and participate in outreach.  Impacts include loss of education center facilities, as well as direct destruction of habitats and ecosystems in the communities where they are engaged.

In response to a preliminary call to action, Master Naturalist Volunteers from other areas of the state have expressed interest in traveling to affected areas where they would concurrently contribute meaningful service in support of fellow members of the Master Naturalist Community, while fulfilling their own volunteer commitments where a volunteer citizen steward group might play a role following an environmental crisis.

“Given that we expect disasters like Hurricane Sandy to increase in frequency and magnitude, understanding how the growing number of volunteer environmental stewards can contribute to social and ecological resilience post-crisis is important.”

The Strategy

  • Strengthened the Master Naturalist Volunteer Program and expand it into a more reciprocal program.
  • Explored new and better ways to maintain engagement, provide enhanced learning opportunities, and strengthen the connection among community members.
  • Organized and oversaw two experiential service-learning trips to hurricane-affected locations.  The locations will be chosen with the help of volunteers in the area, and will include sites of personal importance to current Master Naturalist volunteers.
  • Evaluated whether volunteer efforts focused on helping (or being helped by) their Master Naturalist peers creates a more rewarding experience for individual volunteers and increases the likelihood of continued volunteer service.
  • Evaluated whether volunteer efforts focused on helping their Master Naturalist peers strengthen the Master Naturalist community as a whole.
  • Used feedback generated through the project, modify the Master Naturalist Program to provide better-targeted services using innovative approaches to new problems.

Engaged Faculty Fellowship Program

A yearlong cohort program in which faculty dive deep into the theory and practice of engaged learning; meet monthly to discuss readings, share projects and workshop challenges; and help transform what it means to teach at Cornell

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