Two local nonprofit organizations will benefit from working with SUNY Fredonia public relation students during the current semester. Students enrolled in the Public Relation Campaigns class will be working with the organizations through the Community Partners program.
SUNY Fredonia President Dr. Virginia Horvath announced Tuesday at a press conference, organized by the students, the Community Partners will be the Greystone Nature Preserve and the Chautauqua Rails to Trails. Horvath said since 2001 the program has provided students with the opportunity for "innovative teaching styles that foster a lifetime of knowledge and experience."
"This program allows SUNY Fredonia students to learn more about the public relations profession while engaging in positive ways in the community. This is why the Community Partners program has been increasing popular throughout Chautauqua County. Not only are we building positive relationships between the community and our students, but we are also fostering crucial social, cultural, artistic intellectual and economic growth of the organizations for which we work," Horvath said.
OBSERVER Photos by Samantha McDonnell
Top: Chautauqua Rails to Trails was one of the Community Partners announced Tuesday. Dr. Robert Berke, board chairman for the organization (right) said there are 30 miles of trails throughout the county free for public use. Also pictured, is SUNY Fredonia President Dr. Virginia Horvath (left) and public relations senior Ellen Mattar (center).
More than 40 students in the class were divided into groups then partnered with nonprofit organizations which were selected by the class from 16 applicants. Students will work with these organizations researching, developing and helping to implement public relation strategies and techniques. Junior Grace Gerass said her peers have concerns about the environmental future of the planet.
"By pairing with these organizations, we can help to maintain the natural beauty as well as using the health benefits associated with them, such as physical activity," Gerass said.
Greystone Nature Preserve Board Chairman Jeremy Woolson said the organization applied to be included in the program to help raise awareness. He said the 71-acre property located on Bear Lake Road in Fredonia helps to educate the community about nature through specialized tours and programs about appreciation and conservation of the environment. Woolson said the organization, with help from the students, hopes to gain more community awareness, educational program improvement in addition to financial stability.
"We have the full confidence that these students will create innovative, valuable and engaging projects that will be mutually rewarding," Woolson said.
Chautauqua Rails to Trails was established in 1991 to transform abandoned railroad corridors into recreational areas, according to Dr. Robert Berke, board chairman for the organization. The organization manages 30 miles of trails, 26 miles of which are owned by the organization, for activities such as horseback riding, snowmobiling, hiking, and more.
"Our trails provide a safe place in the outdoors for people to partake in recreational activities. The trails allow users to engage with the local natural beauty while supporting healthy lifestyles. This area has a lot to offer for natural beauty. What better way to see it than easy-to-use trails throughout this gorgeous county," Berke said.
The organization's main goal through Community Partners is increased awareness and membership for the trails that are open year round and are free to use. Chautauqua Rails to Trails is also in need of more funding opportunities to further promote the organization as it relates to tourism in the county.
"Both of these nonprofits are great organizations that aim to preserve and maintain the pure beauty of Chautauqua County," said Horvath. "... students actually have the chance to help preserve and protect the most majestic landscapes of the county demonstrating (SUNY Fredonia's) commitment to sustainability and environmental issues."
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