NEWS RELEASE: Pace University Federal Reserve Challenge Team Tops in Regional Competition and Third in Country

A Pace University team of undergraduate students competing in the 2012 College Federal Reserve Challenge won first place in the final round of the New York Federal Reserve Bank’s competition in November and third place in the national round. (Left: Pace’s Federal Reserve Challenge Team with Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve.)

Pace University Federal Reserve Challenge Team Came Out on Top in the Regional Competition and Third in the Country

Team also won the Lloyd Bromberg Teamwork Award

NEW YORK, NY, December 14, 2012 – A Pace University team of undergraduate students competing in the 2012 College Federal Reserve Challenge won first place in the final round of the New York Federal Reserve Bank’s competition in November and third place in the national round. The team beat 29 other colleges in three rounds of competition, including Hamilton, Cornell, and New York University. The team also received the Lloyd Bromberg Teamwork Award for team coordination and presentation excellence.

Pace business, economics and finance majors Nashrah Ahmed, William Hellander, Daniel Boutarel, Kelsey Berrio, and Sonia Sternick participated in the challenge and are the first Pace team to win the regional competition. The team went on to compete in the nationals in Washington D.C. and were ranked 3rd in the country out of 135 colleges and universities.

The team was coached by three Pace economics professors. Mark Weinstock, Gregory Colman and Anna Shostya worked with them for hundreds of hours in preparation for the competition. The students put in even more time.

The Pace team is an award-winning group, having frequently finished in the finals and semi-finals over the last 10 years. Previous team members have gone on to achieve high levels of academic and career success. Team participation at Pace is available as a 3 credit, writing enhanced economics elective. All majors can participate.

The College Federal Reserve Challenge is a national academic competition consisting of a 15 -minute economic presentation followed by a 15 -minute question and answer period. During the Q&A, students address questions about finance, economics, banking, and monetary policy administered by a panel of professional economists who work at the New York Fed. The competition requires that students work as a team to research and analyze current economic data, develop a forecast of and review potential future economic risks, develop a presentation and answer questions on a recommendation for monetary policy.

The challenge is intended to encourage students to learn more about the U.S. macro economy, the Federal Reserve System and the implementation of monetary policy and financial stability. It is also aimed at spurring interest in economics and finance as subjects for advanced study and as the basis for a career.

Although the work and challenges are considerable, students and advisors unanimously agree that the experience is both rewarding and unforgettable. Read some thoughts of students and team advisors on their experiences on the Federal Reserve web site.

About Pace University

Since 1906, Pace has educated thinking professionals by providing high quality education for the professions on a firm base of liberal learning amid the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in Lower Manhattan and Westchester County, N.Y., enrolling nearly 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, College of Health Professions, School of Education, School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems.

Please visit our website at www.pace.edu.

Media Contact: Cara Cea, Pace University, 914-906-9680, ccea@pace.edu

NEWS RELEASE: Pace University Helps Those Hit Hardest by the Storm

Pace University’s commitment to community service, civic engagement and philanthropy has been put into action even as the university community has been struggling to regain normalcy on all campuses and in the homes of students, administration, staff and faculty. On campus, issues with power restoration, Internet connectivity and phone service have recently been resolved. Off campus, the Pace community is turning adversity into a moment to help those hit even harder. (Left: Students help with clean-up at SPCA in Westchester).

Pace University Helps Those Hit Hardest by the Storm

NEW YORK, NY, November 14, 2012 – Pace University’s commitment to community service, civic engagement and philanthropy has been put into action even as the university community has been struggling to regain normalcy on all campuses and in the homes of students, administration, staff and faculty. On campus, issues with power restoration, Internet connectivity and phone service have recently been resolved. Off campus, the Pace community is turning adversity into a moment to help those hit even harder.

Pace University students, faculty and staff have helped others in several ways since Superstorm Sandy. Some Pace students who have helped in recovery efforts have returned with tears in their eyes – realizing how fortunate they really are to have only lost power. Others have lost their homes themselves.

Pace University’s resident students from three dorms in lower Manhattan were relocated after the storm for 6 days to One Pace Plaza where heat, food and shelter were provided. Many of these students, as well as Pace residential life staff, turned an otherwise uncomfortable situation into an opportunity for service.

In total, over 250 Pace students have participated in organized projects –

  • Working with elected officials (including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver).
  • Some coordinated by NYC Council, City Hall and Trinity Church on Wall Street.
  • About 20 students helped deliver meals to homebound elderly in Manhattan.
  • Pace is allocating space for 124 displaced pre-school and Kindergarten students.
  • The Pace Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) hosted a clothing drive at three Pace Volleyball home games to aid local residents.
  • The Pleasantville campus was used as a warming center for local residents still without power. Residents warmed up and charged their electronics. Food was provided.
  • Pace Success Mentors helped with clean-up at the Westchester SPCA Friday, 11/2/12.

The football team was featured on the Red Cross website as “a prime example of a community coming together in the face of a massive tragedy.” For the full articles, click here and here.  “This has been a real learning experience,” said one of the players. “When times get tough, we come together and become one to help the less fortunate.”

Upcoming Pace projects include:

  • Film and Screen Studies major and Paramount Pictures intern, Jordan Hirsch, is coordinating a holiday food drive working with the Food Bank of New York City.
  • Pace students will help in clean-up efforts at individual homes in Staten Island.  This is a joint project with The College of Staten Island and All Hands volunteers.  The trip will take place this Sunday, November 18.  Transportation will be provided for students.  Pace alumni and students from Staten Island affected by the storm available for interviews.
One Pace professor, Diane Cypkin, who was born in a DP camp after WWII – lives in Brooklyn and lost her car which “floated away into the Atlantic.” She has had to take mass transportation from Brooklyn to Pleasantville every day since for work. She had this to say on Facebook: “I thought I’d share what I’ve learned these past two weeks . . . since Sandy . . Hurricanes destroy a lot . . . and build at the same time. During the physical storm your head is in a mental storm. After it, in the midst of whatever your “devastation” is, there comes a quiet . . . and the “real” shows up . . . real friends . . . real “good.” I’ve learned. I’m grateful.”

The Director of Student Development and Campus Activities at Pace, Rachel Carpenter, said, “We received two phone calls from an emotionally thankful mother of one of our student staff members.”  Pace sophomore AJ Fazio’s family lost their home and are currently living in temporary housing.  He has three step brothers and his two parents.  Most of their belongings were lost.  Within days Pace staff had donated clothing, bedding, kitchenware, and more.  AJ’s mother said she felt blessed that her son went to a school with such caring staff/faculty.  “It was sometimes difficult to understand her through her tears and powerful emotions,” Carpenter said.  “It really touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes.”

Pace’s Center for Community Action and Research continues to email updates to students with detailed information on how they can help in the recovery efforts of the area.

Media contact: Cara Cea, ccea@pace.edu, 914-906-9680.

Chronicle of Higher Education: A Week After Hurricane Sandy, Students Step Up Their Relief Work

An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Caitlin Peterkin highlights efforts made by Pace students, despite their own adversity, to help those hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy. (Left: Adelphi U. students sorted donations last weekend for delivery to areas damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Many of the items went to hard-hit Long Beach, N.Y., and another delivery is planned for Saturday. Photo credit: Michael Berthel, Chronicle of Higher Education).

An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Caitlin Peterkin highlights efforts made by Pace students, despite their own adversity, to help those hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

“In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the damage it inflicted on many college campuses in the New York metropolitan area, there has been a swelling of support from students, including those who were personally affected by the storm. In the last week, students have called closed campuses to volunteer, organized donation drives, and delivered food and supplies to local residents, among other relief efforts.

At Pace University, whose main campus is in hard-hit Lower Manhattan, students are working on several clean-up projects coordinated by the New York City government and a local church. This week, the university’s Student Athletic Advisory Committee is holding a clothing drive.

Pace itself did not suffer serious damage in the storm, but it had to evacuate a residence hall, and buildings lost power. Classes resumed only on Wednesday. But last weekend, a group of students, flashlights in hand, went to Southbridge Towers, a nearby apartment complex with many older residents, to deliver hot meals to the homebound.

“They really jumped to help,” said Marijo Russell-O’Grady, Pace’s dean of students. “Afterwards they had tears in their eyes, telling me how wonderful it was.”

Jordan Hirsch, a junior majoring in film and screen studies, plans a food drive to honor emergency workers. “I know a lot of students are involved with helping victims,” he said, “and I thought it would be a great idea to have students thank these first responders.”

The drive will be called “The Guardians of the Holiday Meal,” said Mr. Hirsch, an intern at Paramount Pictures. “The first responders were like our guardians,” he said, “so we’re taking that theme to the food drive.”

Sleeping on Cots in a Gym

Service learning is a graduation requirement at Pace, and Stephen J. Friedman, the university’s president, estimates that last year students performed around 45,000 hours of community service. This year he expects much of the service to be focused on storm relief.

“Many of these students themselves were impacted by Hurricane Sandy,” said Mr. Friedman. “It’s particularly a noble thing to do for students who themselves are sleeping on cots in a gym, to go out and help other people.”

Pace has set up an emergency-assistance table to connect students and employees who are still suffering from the effects of the storm with resources on and off the campus.”

Read the full article here.

Patch.com: Pace Students Talk Presidential Debate

Patch.com reporter Sarah Studley came to Pace’s Pleasantville campus to watch the second 2012 Presidential debate with Pace students and faculty.

Patch.com reporter Sarah Studley came to Pace’s Pleasantville campus to watch the second 2012 Presidential debate with Pace students and faculty.

Her interviews with students as well as commentary from political science professor Greg Julian can be found here:

http://tarrytown.patch.com/articles/pace-students-talk-pres-debate-video#video-11753067

From Patch.com:

There was Big Bird. Then there was “malarky.” And now there are “binders full of women.”

While these comical word choices for the presidential and vice presidential candidates have been making headlines over the past few weeks leading up to the November debate, Pace University students in Pleasantville were more concerned with divisive issues Tuesday night.

While tuning into the Hofstra University Town Hall style presidential debate, students and faculty at the campus laughed at some of President Barack Obama’s retorts, “Ooohed” at Mitt Romney’s attacks and took a critical look at the debate as a whole.

Following the just over hour-and-a-half long exchange, moderated by CNN’s Candy Crowley, Pace students dissected the candidates’ responses and strategies.

The two candidates will meet a final time before the November 6 election on Monday, Oct. 22.

The last Presidential debate watch party was covered by Scott Salotto from WABC news radio/Imus in the Morning.

NEWS RELEASE: Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger to Speak at Pace University on September 5

Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger will be speaking to Pace’s student athletes about his inspirational life story on Wednesday, September 5 at 7 pm at the Goldstein Health, Fitness and Recreation Center. This event is free and open to the public.

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y.- The Pace University Athletics Department is will welcome Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger to Pace’s Pleasantville campus on Wednesday, September 5 at 7 pm at the Goldstein Health, Fitness and Recreation Center. He will be speak to Pace’s student athletes about his inspirational life story. This event is free and open to the public. Rudy will also do a book signing following his talk.

For the first time, read Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger’s real life story in Rudy: My Story revealing the man behind the beloved movie Rudy, and his continued determination to make his dreams come true. Rudy describes growing up in Joliet, Ill., becoming one of only a few players in Notre Dame history to be carried off the field, struggling to get a movie made about his life, and losing sight of his own dreams, nearly derailing him. Rudy details the failures and hard lessons he’s learned and shows how hitting the reset button was the best thing that happened him.

“I fell into the same obvious trap that the rest of the country had fallen into in all of those boom years: I shouldn’t have been chasing the money,” says Rudy. “I should have been chasing the dream. It was one of the most profound, simple, important lessons I would ever learn – and the consequences of that lesson would haunt me for years.”

Rudy doesn’t just represent some far-fetched Hollywood story that most people can never attain—its message is that Rudy is an “Average Joe,” and anyone with a dream can make that dream a reality by being willing to put in the hard work, and heart, it takes to get there.

Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger is the subject of the blockbuster film Rudy and one of the most popular motivational speakers in the United States. His humble background and determination to pursue his dreams, no matter the challenge, has made him legendary and an inspiration to everyone from school children to businessmen and athletes, even presidents. He established the Rudy Foundation to help children around the world and the Rudy Awards for high school and university level athletes.

The Journal News: Pace University graduation Photo Gallery, classmates honor Danroy Henry

Several media outlets in Westchester covered Pace’s undergraduate commencement ceremony in Pleasantville and the Law School commencement in White Plains. The Journal News, The Examiner, News 12, The Daily Pleasantville and Patch.com were on hand to celebrate the 2012 graduations.

Several media outlets in Westchester covered Pace’s undergraduate commencement ceremony in Pleasantville and the Law School commencement in White Plains. The Journal News, The Examiner, News 12, The Daily Pleasantville and Patch.com were on hand to celebrate the 2012 graduations.

Patch.com‘s coverage included photos and video:

“Stories are not static, but dynamic. They continue to evolve in ways we can anticipate and in ways we can’t.”

In his commencement speech to the Pace University Class of 2012, Jacob Burns Film Center Executive Director Stephen Apkon (a Pace alumnus) encouraged the graduates to use their knowledge and experience to shape their own stories as they continue their journeys, yet be open to “uncommon sense.”

“So, what will your story be?” he asked.

For Alison Lee Goshgarian—a Dyson College of Arts and Sciences undergraduate and one of the 433 students who walked across the Goldstein Fitness Center stage in Pleasantville Friday—her story started off with an unexpected turn of events.

“When I was a senior in high school, I was rejected from every college I applied to,” she revealed to the crowd of 3,200 attendees. “That damper on my self-esteem is what turned my life into a complete different direction.”

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) also shared a personal anecdote that changed his life. As a young man, he was offered an all-expenses paid opportunity to travel around the world, but chose to stay home with a girl he loved…who ended up leaving him shortly after.

“There I was—no scholarship, no trip around the world…no girl,” he said. “I said to myself, ‘What a loser you are.'”

After moping around “for several months” and then attending law school, Schumer decided to change courses again and run for office.

“Don’t forget—go for it!” he told the graduates.

From the Pleasantville Examiner:

Stephen Apkon, founder and executive director of the Jacob Burns Film Center, was awarded an honorary degree and delivered the commencement address at Pace University’s May 11 graduation at its Pleasantville campus.

The ceremonies, which also featured U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, drew more than 3,000 people who watched the 443 graduates receive their degrees.

“Today is not just a marking of classes taken or credits earned, of tests passed or majors fulfilled, it is neither beginning nor end, but rather a place to stop, to celebrate your accomplishments and to look toward the future,” Apkon said. “It is a turning of the page.”

Apkon spoke to graduates about the importance of stories in their lives and how that has evolved over the years.

“I have pinned above my desk a quote from the great American documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles who said, ‘The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away when they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. That is why we put these stories in each other’s memory. This is how people care for themselves.”

Despite the steep challenges facing graduates, Apkon pointed out how the world is more interconnected than it has ever been and how much easier it is to bring stories and information to the masses.

“Over four billion videos are viewed [on youtube] by more than 800 million people,” Apkon said. “More video is uploaded each month than our networks produced collectively, in their more than 60 years of existence. Videos can be created and shared by each of us as a result of hitting send.”

In his parting words to the Class of 2012, Apkon told them to write their own story, occupy their life and listen deeply.

“Foster the seeds that have been planted in your time here at Pace University,” Apkon said. “I congratulate you and wish you continued success. I wish you happiness, fulfillment and deep connection. And I wish you uncommon sense.”

Schumer congratulated the graduates and told them and their families to cherish a special moment such as this.

“One of the greatest days of the life of my wife and me was seeing our daughter graduate college,” Schumer said. “Congratulations to your moms and dads.”

From The Daily Pleasantville:

Undergraduate students at Pace University‘s Pleasantville campus walked the onto the stage and into a new phase of life during Friday morning’s graduation ceremony.

“Commencement is a beginning; not an end,” said Harriet Feldman, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “We know that this commencement ceremony not only marks great achievement, in your Pace University degree, but it also marks an achievement that will continue throughout your lifetimes.”

Degrees were given to 433 students, who arrived in the Goldstein Fitness Center on a blue carpet, where they were greeted by more than 3,200 cheering friends, relatives and parents.

“Is this really happening?” said Alison Lee Goshgarian, the class speaker. Goshgarian, a graduate of Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, said she was rejected by every college she applied to out of high school.

“As we all know, life isn’t easy. But I chose to overcome adversity,” Goshgarian said. “That morning when I woke up I told myself, ‘You’re going to go to junior college for one year, and one year only. You gotta get straight A’s; you’re going to go to a place where you can start and design your life.’ And I did. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to get to your next step. Sometimes you need to take those baby steps in order for you to achieve your goal.”

Goshgarian also paid tribute to a fallen classmate, D.J. Henry, who was fatally shot in 2010. He had been on schedule to graduate in 2012.

“We are not just students; we are a community,” Goshgarian said. “Together we have experienced happiness, stress, tears, laughter, love and tragedy. Tragedy struck our class, and we honor the spirit of those not with us today. And we can safely say that Pace has turned us into a family.”

Stephen Apkon, founder and executive director of the Jacob Burns Film Center, received an honorary degree and addressed the students during the ceremony.

“Each of you, the Pace University class of 2012, stand here today, poised to change the world, to make it a little healthier, a little more just, a little more connected,” Apkon said. “You will no doubt experience unforeseen challenges and unanticipated joys. You will suffer unexpected setbacks and unimagined successes. In short, you will experience life in its fullest.”

Visit The Daily Pleasantville on Facebook for a complete album of pictures from the ceremony.

Pace University graduation Photo Gallery, classmates honor Danroy Henry | The Journal News | LoHud.com | LoHud.com.

WABC TV: How senior citizens are using the iPad | 7online.com

Dr. Jay Adlersberg interviewed Seidenberg professor Jean Coppola for WABC’s Eyewitness News on her work teaching technology to older adults.

From the WABC TV website:

The technology revolution is not just for kids. It’s for their parents and even their grandparents. In one local nursing home, residents are getting a taste of wider access to the world around them using a handful of iPads.

With hundreds of thousands of apps, it’s opening the eyes and the minds of older people who might think that technology has passed them by.

Sandy Shulman, 72, is playing hangman in the sports category on the iPad. She lives at the Jewish Home Lifecare nursing home in the Bronx, where residents are becoming part of the iPad revolution. The staff started it off by showing around their personal iPads.

“The initial response was so positive and enthusiastic, and with the support of the administration, we bought our own iPads,” Merri Buckstone, of Jewish Home Lifecare, said.

“It’s accessible to so many things that you never knew existed,” Lillian Haber, 87, said.

Such as Google Maps with the iPad hooked to a widescreen TV. A few taps and the iPad takes them back, right back home.

For Robert grant, it’s all about his football.

“You just push the button so you can see the game, and it pops up,” he said.

Right now, there are only 8 iPads for eight hundred residents.

The staff here at the nursing home tells me that at times, the residents can become passive and uninvolved. The iPad reanimates them.

They shop online and together plan a Mother’s Day lunch.

We used Skype on the iPad to hear a touching story about a 93 year old, who got an iPad from her daughter.

“She grabbed me the other day and she said, ‘Dr. Coppola, my family asked me opinions. Now they ask me questions. They respect me in a different way,'” Jean Coppola, PhD at Pace University, said.

And respect an active mind, no matter how old.

“If you still have the capacity to think, why shouldn’t there be a learning process with it?” Haber said.

Why not indeed. The program at Jewish Home Lifecare is only eight months old. Despite how much each device can expand an older person’s world, there’s only one iPad for every one hundred seniors. But it’s a start, as Merri Buckstone told me, to bringing fun into each person’s life.

View the video here:

How senior citizens are using the iPad | 7online.com.

Broadwayworld.com: Photo Flash: Ryan Scott Oliver and Pace U Present HATCHED – NEW WORK

Pace University’s Musical Theatre Class of 2015 presented a cabaret on May 4th and 5th at at Joe’s Pub. The show, entitled Hatched, was a presentation of notable composers’ works written in the past three months. (Left: Tony Clements)

Pace University’s Musical Theatre Class of 2015 presented a cabaret on May 4th and 5th at at Joe’s Pub. The show, entitled Hatched, was a presentation of notable composers’ works written in the past three months, including the likes of Shaina Taub, Niko Tsakalakos, Gordon Leary, Julia Meinwald, Drew Gasparini, Zoe Sarnak, Ryan Scott Oliver, and the students of Pace’s Inaugural “Writing for the Musical Theatre” class.

The show featured the direction of Rebeca Radoszkowicz and composer and lyricist Ryan Scott Oliver, with music direction by Andrew Smithson and assistant music direction by Addison O’Donnell. Student Danny Quadrino assistant stage managed with Kristina Vnook as production stage manager.

Students from Pace University B.F.A. Musical Theatre Program have been seen on Broadway in Hair, Bye Bye Birdie, and in the National Tours of Beauty and the Beast, Spring Awakening, In the Heights, The Wizard of Oz, A Chorus Line, and many more.

The cast featured Elijah Boyles, Tony Clements, Carly June Cohen, Latoya Edwards, Ebeth Enquist, Kerri George, Samantha Grossman, Talya Groves, Jeff Heimbrock, Katie Henney, Michael Hughes, Kelsey Lake, Victor Legra, Devin Lewis, Tatiana Lofton, Tierney Malloy, Nicholas Manning, Kailey Marshall, Toren Nakamura, Hayley Anna Norris, Sean Potter, Tory Ramirez, Chandler Reeves, Emily Rogers, and Jill Christine.

Photo Flash: Ryan Scott Oliver and Pace U Present HATCHED – NEW WORK.

Patch.com: Count Your Eels Here

The eels are here in the tributaries of the Hudson, where citizen scientists like Pace University’s Theresa Pellecchia, are catching and counting these slithery creatures to find out why their populations are declining.

Patch.com featured the field research of political science graduate student, Theresa Pellecchia.

From Patch.com:

It’s eel season in the Hudson and though that might not have you excited, there is one local grad student who has fallen in love with these slithery creatures of our waterways.

Theresa Pellecchia, from Brewster, is doing her master’s thesis project for Pace University on eels through a program sponsored by the Department of Environmental Conservation. Citizen scientists are currently studying eels, as they do annually, in various tributaries of the Hudson River.

Every day at low tide for months—from mid-March to early June—Pellecchia visits the Pocantico where it cuts through DeVries playground to gather, count and move the baby eels her so-called “fyke” net has caught in the night. The light-sensitive eels only travel at night and the large net that is embedded across a third of the stream has holes small enough to only catch the smallest ones. Bigger eels, she said, are there, they just aren’t getting caught.

The eels, supposedly born in the Atlantic’s Sargasso Sea (this is only suspected and has never been proven), journey all the way here en route to the fresh water where they will spend much of their lives. Once they hit fresh water, some of the all-male young will turn female, “we hope,” Pellecchia said with two enthusiastic thumbs up. They will return after about three decades to spawn in the Sargasso, and die.

In the Pocantico, in the brackish water (a mix of fresh and salty), Pellecchia catches one-year-olds who are kept from progressing further by the dam in Philipsburg Manor. If they can’t get to fresh water, there’s no chance they’ll turn female and therefore reproduce.

If you don’t think eels are important, Pellecchia will have you convinced. They are an essential element of the ecosystem and the natural food chain that humans are messing with. American eels, Pellecchia said, are surpassing the depleted Japanese eels in the sushi market. Eels caught largely in Maine actually get shipped to Japan, repackaged and sold back to the States.

Meanwhile, right here in our region, the eel population seems to be on the decline for other unknown causes. The DEC and its volunteers are trying to figure out why.

The babies don’t much resemble the black five-foot creature that these things can become. They are called glass eels for the first phase of their lives, and are transparent. “You can see their little hearts beating,” Pellecchia said. On the day we met with her, she catches eight babies and four “elvers” (kid eels), a pretty good haul. Her record here is 30 eels, while some sites under the DEC study have been known to catch hundreds or even thousands a day.

Pellecchia is testing the conditions that may make our site particularly slow for the eels – she takes air and water temperature and monitors water quality. She wonders too if the former GM plant has something to do with it.

Of course, while other eel watchers might have the luxury of a more woodsy and private locale, Pellecchia is just feet away from the popular redone playground. Kids wander over and ooh and ahh (or ick) at her eels. She is a natural teacher and gets everyone excited about her research, as she mucks about with her companion Rob Benitez (school policy requires she always bring a buddy for this work) in waders and scoops up eels out of the funnel of a net with her bare hands. Then she displays them to the small crowd of little people. For added viewer fun, she takes them out of the blue bucket and places them in a clear baggy where the glass eels and bigger kids glisten and squirm.

Then it’s off to the Manor restoration where she releases her catch above the manmade dam. From there it’s onwards and upwards, upstream to fresh water. “We’ll help them out a little bit,” Pellecchia said as she released her little bag of eels above the dam, “And…there they go.”

Count Your Eels Here [VIDEO] – Rivertowns, NY Patch.

NYTimes.com Dot Earth: From Bark to Bottle – a Cork Story

Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding Andrew Revkin wrote about his experience co-teaching the Producing the Documentary course with communications professor Maria Luskay.This year, the students in the course traveled to Portugal to film the story of cork.

Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding Andrew Revkin wrote about his experience co-teaching the Producing the Documentary course with communications professor Maria Luskay.This year, the students in the course traveled to Portugal to film the story of cork.

From the NY Times.com:

For the second year, I’ve co-taught a documentary production course at Pace University in which a team of graduate and undergraduate communication students travels on spring break not to lounge on a beach, but to shoot a short film with an environmental theme. Last year’s film focused on an American woman working for decades in Belize to farm shrimp with limited environmental impacts.

This year, the destination was Portugal and the subject was cork.

For centuries, this versatile material — harvested by stripping the bark from a certain oak species once every decade or so — was the only choice for sealing wine bottles. At its peak, the trade supported thousands of workers, from bark-stripping crews in the rural communities around the forests to the factory workers in towns like Coruche, in southern Portugal.

It also sustained ecosystems that, while heavily shaped and exploited by humans, have long been a haven for wildlife, from the critically endangered Iberian lynx to the imperial eagle.

But in recent years, wine producers, concerned about quality control and cost, started shifting to plastic stoppers and plastic-lined aluminum screw caps, which ended up capturing about a third of the billion-dollar wine-closure business. The competition prompted the cork industry, led by the company Amorim, to improve its operations, develop new lines of products and push back with an offbeat online marketing campaign centered on the comic actor Rob Schneider.

The public relations tussle alone is quite the story, including dueling YouTube videos (“Sniff the Cork” and “Vive le Screwcap” are two contestants) and a mock “funeral for the cork” staged in 2002 in a dining room at Grand Central Terminal by Randall Grahm, the screw-cap-favoring owner of the Bonny Doon Vineyard in northern California.

The students traveled the length of Portugal, from the vineyards draped on the steep slopes of the extraordinary Douro Valley in the north to the cork forests of the south. Then came weeks of video and sound editing under the direction of Pace Professor Maria Luskay, who invented this course more than a decade ago. In 15 short minutes they tell a layered story that follows the largely unappreciated journey of cork, from quiet forests through bustling factories and jangling bottling plants to your table or restaurant. [May 8, 1:24 p.m. | Update | Click here for a note on the project’s neutrality and financial independence.]

They created an engaging blog charting their path and also chronicled the process on YouTube, from Lou Guarneri strumming for the soundtrack to the actor Kurt Rhoads using his Shakespeare-honed skills to catch just the right tone on the opening word, “Cork.”

There’s something important under way in such projects, in which communication and journalism students can attack stories that might otherwise be missed as traditional news media both shrink and tend to focus their cameras on bad apples instead of best practices. We need both.

With appropriate guidance, students can not only develop story-and idea-sharing skills that mesh written and audiovisual output, but put those skills to use even as they learn, potentially playing a role in fostering progress on a finite planet. It’s one thing to learn how to write a script or operate a camera; it’s another to learn how to make a difference.

The journalism program at the University of British Columbia has been doing fine work, with a recent package on environmental and labor problems related to shrimp farming in Southeast Asia (essentially the flip side of what the Pace team found in Belize) and now — accompanying a print article in The New York Times — a a video report on the impact of Brazil’s latest wave of dam construction on indigenous tribes in the Amazon River basin.

View the full article with video clip here:

From Bark to Bottle – a Cork Story – NYTimes.com.