On a beautiful fall day, members of the Alfred State Honors Program took a break from the books to meet some fellow students who competed in The Great Race this summer.
The Great Race, a controlled-speed endurance rally, challenged 109 teams to drive vintage vehicles from San Rafael, CA, to Moline, IL, crossing eight states. Driving a 1953 Dodge Power Wagon, the Alfred State team earned a third-place finish in the X-Cup division. The 6000-pound, 85-horse power tow truck climbed the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains and crossed the Mojave Desert on the nine-day trek.
Honors Program members learned details of the trip from the student team, including that lack of trailer space for the return trip at the end of the race required the students to drive to Alfred from Moline, thus completing a cross-country journey in the 1953 vehicle. Students were treated to a lap around campus in the vintage truck.
In an effort to build more trust, respect, and communication, Alfred law enforcement and safety officers want college students to meet with them and their families. While there are stories from across the nation regarding tension between officers and community members, local officers are taking a proactive approach to increase understanding.
On Oct. 25, a family barbecue is being coordinated by officers from Alfred University, the Village of Alfred, and State University Police at Alfred State, as a way to further bridge the relationship between law enforcement and the student community. The family-friendly event is designed for students to have the opportunity to meet officers in a relaxed environment where everyone can continue a dialogue about their shared interests of family and safer communities. The event is at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 25 and is convenient to both campuses at the corner where Alfred University’s Welcome Center and Alfred State’s main entrance sign are both located.
This gathering is one in a series titled “Shared Spaces” which finds opportunities for police and students to communicate in productive settings. Various pizza lunches, cookie drop-offs, and coffee hours have already increased positive contact between students and officers.
When Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti in early October, the effects on Haitians’ livestock were devastating, causing a major blow to an important aspect of the residents’ livelihood. Looking to help with this problem are two groups of Alfred State veterinary technology students who will be traveling to the country in January and May.
According to Associate Professor of Agriculture and Veterinary Technology Doug Pierson, the students will travel to Les Cayes, where they will put their skills to use caring for residents’ animals by participating in mobile clinics and coordinating with the local veterinary agent.
“We also have a truck that we load up with vet supplies and take out to farmers,” said Pierson, who, along with his wife, Debbie, will be accompanying the students to Haiti. “The farmers just bring their animals to us and we take care of whatever need they have.”
Speaking to the importance of livestock to residents in Haiti, he said, “A Haitian family wants to have livestock because if they have a need that comes up – somebody gets sick and they need to pay a hospital bill, or they have to pay school tuition – they want to have an animal to sell so they can generate the money they need. Animals are almost like a banking system. The typical poor Haitian family survives on bartering and on the livestock they are able to maintain.”
The vet tech students leaving Alfred for Haiti on Jan. 12 and returning Jan. 20 will be Dominique Battaglia, of Baldwinsville; Santina Blair, of Utica; Lynnsie Bennett, of Victor; and Morgan Childs, of Scio. Those departing for Haiti May 14 and returning May 22 will be Megan DiMartino, of Cuba; Rachael Schweiger, of Barton; Caitlyn Roof, of Palmyra; and Alison Sell, of Hanover, PA.
The Piersons’ connection to Haiti goes back more than 15 years, as they had lived near Les Cayes from 2000 to 2003 because of Doug’s involvement with the Christian Veterinarian Mission. Since 2010, the Piersons have been taking groups of Alfred State students over to Haiti twice a year. Initially, the trips centered on reconstruction and involved building trades students, but in recent years, the focus has shifted more toward caring for livestock.
“In addition to having compassion and a heart to want to help, it’s really nice if you bring a skill set so you can be more than a gofer,” Doug said, noting how impressed he has been with Alfred State students who have traveled to Haiti in the past. “We’re kind of uniquely positioned as a college of technology to bring in students with really high skill sets.”
Debbie said she hoped that when Hurricane Matthew hit, all 104 students who she and Doug have taken to Haiti over the years stopped and reflected on the past trips.
“It brings about an awareness of a developing country that maybe they haven’t had in the past,” she said. “I love going back to Haiti. Every time we go, I’m excited about going, but it’s even more exciting being able to see it through the eyes of the students who have never been there. I don’t think we’ve ever taken students who haven’t wanted to stay longer than a week because there’s so much more to do and they want to help.”
With pristine weather and such a large number of attendees showing off their Pioneer Pride, organizers are counting this year’s Homecoming and Family Weekend as one of the best the college has ever had.
“I think the weekend was wonderful,” said Colleen Argentieri, director of Alumni Relations, and co-chair of the Homecoming and Family Weekend Committee. “Not only did the weather cooperate, but we could not have ordered a more perfect weekend, in terms of attendance.”
Indeed, terrific weather and high attendance were two consistent themes throughout this year’s Homecoming and Family Weekend, which took place Oct. 14-15, beginning with Friday’s ribbon-cutting for the new Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing Center on the Wellsville campus. Legislators, college leaders, students, faculty, staff, and community members all packed into the brand-new $5 million, 16,000-square-foot facility to celebrate its opening. The event also kicked off a yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of the School of Applied Technology campus.
Later that night, the spirit rally and bonfire drew a large crowd of students, faculty, staff, and families, who also enjoyed plenty of goodies and a spectacular fireworks show that lasted more than 20 minutes. Immediately following the fireworks was the always-popular Alfred’s Got Talent show.
“Alfred’s Got Talent was great again this year,” said Mallory Morehouse, coordinator of Orientation and Family Programming, and Homecoming and Family Weekend Committee co-chair. “We had a packed house and there was lots of energy in the auditorium. I’m so happy to be a part of this annual event. It’s always one of my favorite things to plan and execute.”
Friday night’s Basketball Midnight Madness, in which the college community was introduced to the 2016-17 men’s and women’s basketball teams, was one of a number of athletic events that were well-attended throughout the weekend, including the dodgeball competition, the Race for a Cure 5K Run/Walk, and various sports games.
“In my opinion, this was the best Homecoming and Family Weekend ever,” said Paul Welker, sports information director, and Homecoming and Family Weekend Committee member. “Pioneer Pride from students, faculty, staff, and alumni was in full effect.”
Attendees also turned out in droves for a number of other events throughout the weekend, from the Greek tailgate and chili cook-off, to the car show, to the Eric Mina and Spidey show, which featured a fun mix of hypnosis and comedy.
“I agree that this was one of the best Homecoming and Family Weekends thus far,” Argentieri said. “There were more alumni present than in previous years, and we had several conversations with both alumni and family members who were extremely pleased and excited to see the festivities, as well as the many wonderful things happening at the college. It is so gratifying to see such positive results from the effort put forth, and it is truly beginning to feel as though we are building the ‘tradition’ we often discuss with this event.”
Offering 4.5 miles of trails and gorgeous views of nearby scenery, Alfred State’s Pioneer Trail system is now officially open.
Located within a 200-acre wooded area, the Pioneer Trail includes three hikes to challenge all levels of physical fitness, while exploring the forest, discovering wildlife, and taking in the scenery. All trails begin and end at the parking area located behind and above the Orvis Activities Center (parking lot 24).
Each of the three trails is designated with a different-colored hiker icon: blue for the Pioneer Fitness Trail, green for the Happy Valley Trail, and yellow for the Cross Country Trail.
The one-mile Pioneer Fitness Trail offers a novice-to-intermediate challenge to trail-goers, and also features fitness stations. The intermediate-to-difficult one-and-a-half-mile Happy Valley Trail offers some significant climbs and allows hikers to explore what was originally developed as the Happy Valley Ski Hill.
The two-mile Cross Country Trail is designed for running, walking, and cross-country skiing. It delivers scenic views of the village, college, and athletic fields, and is novice-to-intermediate in level of difficulty.
To mark the opening of the trails, the college held a ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by students, faculty, and staff. Welcoming everyone in attendance was Spencer Peavey, assistant vice president for Student Affairs.
“These trails will offer students an additional outlet on campus for fitness and recreation,” he said. “They will also offer faculty and staff members a great opportunity during breaks.”
Peavey was one of numerous individuals and groups who helped make the trail system a reality. Credit also goes to President Dr. Skip Sullivan, Building Trades Assistant Professor Mark Payne and his heavy equipment operations students who helped create paths throughout the trail system, Student Senate, and Vice President for Student Affairs Gregory Sammons.
Amy Miller, coordinator of Civic Engagement and residence director of Main Gate A, mentioned that clubs and organizations have the opportunity to sponsor a portion of the trail, and read aloud the names of those that have already committed to caring for one-tenth of a mile of the trail.
Sammons noted that the vision for the trail system has been years in the making, and is still a work in progress.
“Not only are we going to have additional organizations adopting it, but we will be adding more fitness stations,” he said. “We have more ideas and we welcome your ideas. There’s a lot of opportunity to make this a one-of-a-kind amenity.”
Such amenities as the new trail system, Sullivan said, do not happen without a lot of hard work, a lot of preparation, and a lot of people behind the scenes.
“I’m honored to stand up and say, ‘Look what we’ve got now,’” he said, adding, “Very few campuses have the aesthetics that this campus has, and we want to recognize and celebrate that.”
Speaking at the end of the ceremony was Cassandra Bull, a civic engagement advocate and an agricultural technology major from Saratoga Springs. She provided an overview of the scavenger hunt and social media challenge that followed the ceremony, both of which featured prizes for the students, who cut through the ribbon on their walk up one of the trails.