A professor and his students collect data on the stomach contents of this secretive mammal for the state Department of Environmental Conservation
A scalpel in her right hand, Chloe Bliss begins cutting into the brownish-pink organ she holds in her left.
This is part of her job as a work-study student at Finger Lakes Community College. Her boss is Professor John Van Niel, coordinator of the college’s fish and wildlife technology program. The work entails studying the stomach contents of fishers, a carnivorous north American mammal related to the weasel.
These solitary animals are fairly small, weighing up to 14 pounds, and have long bushy tails. Trapping for fishers is allowed in the fall in most of New York state, largely in the Adirondacks, Hudson Valley and North Country, with a brief season in the Southern Tier.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) dropped off 500 frozen fisher stomachs at FLCC last year as part of an effort to gather data on New York’s fisher population. Fur trappers provided the carcasses so the DEC could study the teeth (to determine age), uteruses of females (to see how many kits they had) and the stomachs (to find out what they really eat).
History Professor Robert Brown has taught the same course at Finger Lakes Community College for the past several years, but never has it been so relevant.
Called “The Black Death and Beyond: How Disease Has Changed History,” the course examines the evolutionary struggle between man and microbe and the myriad ways disease has shaped history.
“It offers useful and timely insight for navigating the challenges of COVID by presenting a host of historical scenarios in which the human population was unexpectedly assailed by an unknown or little understood pathogen,” said Brown, who resides in Victor.
The class will be offered again in the spring semester, which begins Jan. 25.
Brown earned his doctorate in history at Syracuse University. One of his main research interests – and a focus of the Black Death course – is the flu pandemic of 1918 that claimed an estimated 60 million lives. He has been featured in articles and television documentaries, including the PBS’s, “Secrets of the Dead: Killer Flu.” Continue reading “FLCC’s ‘Black Death’ course offers pandemic perspective”
On the job one day, Nikole DeBell ’11 accompanied ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor Lauren “Elle” Duncan with a camera and a mini basketball hoop. Elle dunked hoops over the heads of unsuspecting people and Nikole captured it on camera for a segment on the Saturday show.
“It was a really fun day and I got paid for that,” said Nikole. “Then to see what I produced on TV was really cool.”
That was a few years ago, when Nikole worked as an associate producer at ESPN. In May 2019, she transitioned into her current role as ESPN Next training and development coordinator. The position has her charged with training new production assistants, planning out yearly curriculum, running a peer mentor program and planning networking activities.
Like most everything else, her job has been affected by the pandemic.
“My role has changed pretty drastically due to COVID,” she said. “One of my main responsibilities is training new people, and we aren’t currently hiring new people.
So, the development side of my job has really come in to play. I’ve had to come up with creative ways to virtually develop and advance the people we have in our program now, which has been challenging and fun.”
Nikole has been with ESPN for four years. It’s a dream job – and fitting, considering her background.
The daughter of an NFL official and gym teacher, she was a three-sport athlete at Dansville High School: soccer, basketball, and softball.
Ed Kennedy retired in late summer from teaching psychology, but that’s not what he says he’s been doing for the last 51 years.
“I was more of a history teacher of the self,” Ed explained. “I have always been interested in helping students look at their thinking and why they think the way they do.”
For example, he would challenge them to think of a memory — perhaps from first grade — and ask themselves how that memory played out in their thinking.
With 100 semesters of teaching eight or nine classes, Ed estimates he has taught roughly 20,000 students, enough to make any dinner out or trip to Wal-Mart a reunion: “People come up and say, ‘I have never forgotten what you taught me.’”
He started teaching as an adjunct instructor in 1969 under founding president Roy Satre. “I had the privilege of serving under all of the presidents, and every president I served under was the right person at the right time,” he said.
Having turned 85 this year, Ed had made the decision to retire before the pandemic. He is not putting his feet up, though. He would like to return to the ministry, when churches resume more in-person gatherings. The Rev. Kennedy served as pastor of the Rushville Congregational Church for 49 years, having stepped down during his late wife’s illness several years ago.
His dual vocation made him a natural choice for the many invocations and benedictions during commencement, nursing advancement and other solemn occasions.
He leaves with gratitude for his fellow faculty, the professional staff and leaders on the board of trustees and at the county. “There is not one thing I ever disliked in the College,” he said. “I’ve been blessed for 50 years. I have never regretted a day that I walked into the building at FLCC.”
Before leaving for a 12-week post to help at a New Jersey hospital hit hard by COVID-19, nurse Jennifer Emmons ’11 finalized her own funeral arrangements.
“I had to have a talk with my children to let them know what was in place, where the life insurance is,” she said. “My kids weren’t going to have to wonder about anything. Working in death and dying, I know how important that is.”
Jennifer has been the executive director of the Naples end-of-life comfort home, Hospeace House, since 2017. When the pandemic took hold, the Finger Lakes Community College nursing alumna felt summoned to the storm.
She watched the early reports from the New York City epicenter, where hospitals approached capacity and supplies and staff were sorely needed.
“Being a hospice nurse I think what bothered me the most was that we kept hearing that people were dying alone,” said Jennifer. “I knew that I had skills that were needed.”
With the support of the Hospeace board of directors, Jennifer took an unpaid leave of absence to serve at the Bergen New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus, New Jersey, about 20 miles from Manhattan.
Her assignment was at times administrative but always in the trenches. Many hospital staff had fallen ill in the early weeks, and the crush of patients was so great, a 100-bed medical tent went up in a parking lot.
“You had to remain calm when you were the furthest thing from calm,” she said. “There wasn’t enough of anything — staff, equipment, beds. Some of those basic human needs were being overlooked because we just didn’t have enough hands on deck.”
Every long, chaotic shift was followed by a methodical routine of carefully removing her armor — gloves, gown, shield, and mask — before returning to the hotel she called home during her stay.
On the worst nights, when doubt and hopelessness crept in, Jennifer remembered something one of her FLCC instructors told her in a class years ago: “Never forget why you became a nurse.”
Those words, from the now retired Emily Kuryla, became a mantra.
Alumnus and retiree Henry “Hank” Roenke III ’73 was celebrated by the city of Geneva recently for his work to locate and repair marble markers and catalog monuments in a local cemetery.
City Council adopted a resolution declaring Thursday, Nov. 5 as “Hank Roenke Day.” Mayor Steve Valentino said Hank logged “a staggering 615 trips and 2,140 hours of volunteer service” in a section of the Glenwood Cemetery that was relocated from a burial site on Pulteney Street in 1920 to construct the former Geneva High School (now the site of the FLCC Geneva Campus Center). In the years since the relocation, the headstones have become worn, and in some cases, have sunk into the ground.
“He has completed a tremendous amount of research on the people buried there and routinely logs dates for the historical society’s archives,” the resolution said of Hank’s work. “If that wasn’t enough, he even mows the grass in that section on a regular basis.”
Hank received the CCFL/FLCC Exceptional Service Award in 2017. After earning his associate degree in natural resources conservation from Community College of the Finger Lakes, as the College was called before 1992, he attended Empire State College and then worked as a conservation specialist at FLCC from 1974 to 2001, when he was granted emeritus status.
For over 30 years, Hank developed and managed Geneva’s Loomis Woods Nature Trail, often enlisting the help of FLCC conservation students and local Cub and Boy Scouts. For 13 years, he served as a member of the Alumni Association Council, including two years as its president. He also served on the FLCC Association Board of Directors for 10 years, with two terms as president.
Click here to read the city of Geneva resolution. Click here to read a November 2018 article about Hank in the Finger Lakes Times.
Early in the pandemic, Beth Johnson knew her theatre students at Finger Lakes Community College might not be able to present their annual production before a live audience.
But she saw an opportunity to try something different while also telling the story of our time.
The result is a recorded show titled “Voices in Isolation: Pandemic and Protest” that will debut online at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19. Offered free to all on the FLCC Visual and Performing Arts Department You Tube channel, it will be followed by a live talk-back session with the creative team of writers and performers. The You Tube link can be found here and at events.flcc.edu.
“We felt it was important to provide the students a way to engage and interact with each other, especially one that allowed them the opportunity to voice their experiences and grapple with the issues our country is facing in an artistic and collaborative way,” said Johnson, professor of speech and theatre and director of the production. “While it would have been much easier to avoid offering a theatrical production this year, it would have been a huge disservice to the students for them to have missed out on a fall show.”
“Voices in Isolation” is written and performed by members of the community, students, alumni, and current and retired faculty and staff. The show contains original music, monologues, and stories exploring the impact of quarantine and issues of racial justice. Some are real life experiences, while others are fictionalized.
Each piece was recorded separately, some by the contributors themselves, others by FLCC Video Technician Jeff Kidd ’05. Kidd and Production Manager Jim Perri have spent the past few weeks editing and weaving together the recordings.
ArtSpace36, the downtown gallery of Finger Lakes Community College, will celebrate the opening of a student portfolio show and a community art auction on Thursday, Nov. 19.
A virtual reception will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. and can be accessed via links posted online at artspace36.com and events.flcc.edu. The show and auction items can also be viewed in-person at the gallery at 36 S. Main St., Canandaigua, during normal business hours: 2 to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
The portfolio show will run through Thursday, Jan. 29. It is offered in collaboration with the main campus gallery, Williams-Insalaco Gallery 34, and features a range of works created by students in the college’s Portfolio Prep course taught by Sarah Morgan, associate professor of art at FLCC. The students will give presentations during the virtual event.
“As professional artists, they can expect to have these types of experiences,” said Morgan. “This gives our students important, real-world experiences before they graduate.”
Those who attend the virtual reception will be able to bid on auction items. Up for bid are a range of works in various mediums, including drawings and paintings. Contributors include Sarah and fellow FLCC faculty members Barron Naegel, Barbara Senglaub and Lacey McKinney, and professional artists Jeanne Beck, Pat Tribastone, Kim Ratzel and Karen Sorce, among others. All items were donated; proceeds will support programming at ArtSpace36.
Online bidding for the virtual auction will continue through 5 p.m. on Dec. 4, when winners will be announced at a live online event. As with the portfolio reception, a link can be found online at ArtSpace36.com.