Tag Archives: Staff perspective

Grant Spotlight: Academic Outreach Endowment Grant

This blog is on Niwaeli Kimambo’s, Assistant Professor of Geography, Fall 2020 course.

An analysis of deforestation in protected areas shows tree cover and tree cover loss alongside protected areas boundaries (map by Charlie DiPrinzio ’21)

The Center for Community Engagement supports Middlebury College faculty seeking to deepen student learning through collaborative projects with community organizations. We recently had the chance to connect with Dr. Niwaeli Kimambo, Assistant Professor of Geography and talked more about her Fall 2020 Remote Sensing and Land Use in Sub-Saharan Africa course (GEOG 0351). With support from an CCE Academic Outreach Endowment Grant, Dr. Kimambo was able to partner students with the World Resources Institute (WRI) on a project entitled, “Mapping Landcover Change in Restoration Landscapes.”

Prior to embarking on extensive forest restoration, WRI partners needed to understand the landscape changes that have taken place historically in target restoration sites and remote satellite imagery is a powerful way for analyzing such changes. Students worked with the WRI to perform these needed preliminary analyses of landscape change, contributing to a more efficient preparation for restoration activities. Students conducted analyses for restoration areas in Malawi, Cameroon, Niger, and Rwanda. Below are Dr. Kimambo’s reflections on this collaboration.

How have community collaborations contributed to your teaching and research? 

Collaborating with Dr. Arakwiye at World Resources Institute has enabled me to bring real-world problems to the classroom and inspired new avenues of research. I found that students were more engaged with the content because there was an audience on the other end: someone who was keen to see what they came up with. The collaborations that started in the classroom have also spilled over into research, and will certainly spill back into the classroom.

Can you share an example of a particularly gratifying moment of student learning related to the community-connected project you facilitated?

We held several workshops of work in progress with our community partner. After one of these workshops, one student remarked how it was evident that lessons learnt in the classroom can be applied to solving world problems. As a teacher, knowing that students can apply what they have learned in my class is important to me. The project made that very apparent.

Do you have any advice for those who may seek to collaborate on a project?

Start small, plan early, and take advantage of technology. The current pandemic moment spurred more virtual communication, which allowed collaboration with a community partner who was on the other side of the globe!

Dr. Kimambo’s WRI colleague reflected on the partnership by sharing, “My collaboration with Middlebury students has pushed our work forward in the use of geospatial technologies for monitoring landscape restoration. Here are some examples of how:

  • Middlebury students compared various tree cover maps and even generated new ones of their own. This was an illuminating and impressive exercise. I would be interested in pursuing this topic further, particularly assessing how Collect Earth data can be used to further improve tree cover maps of our target landscapes.
  • During workshops and in their final writeups, Middlebury students gave me valuable feedback on the geospatial surveys I had designed. For example, students pointed out challenging components such as, i) how to estimate tree cover and tree density inside a plot; ii) what land cover types are difficult to interpret satellite imagery. Having this information has already helped me improve our training materials and will ultimately lead to a better implementation of restoration monitoring work in the target landscapes.”

National AmeriCorps Week

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Interested in serving diverse communities across the country in a variety of essential roles? Join Community Engagement and CCI during National AmeriCorps Week for an AmeriCorps Panel on Tuesday, March 8th from 12:30-1:20 pm @ the 118 South Main St. Conference Rm. Hear from several current and former AmeriCorps members about the ins and outs of AmeriCorps, including benefits and how to apply. Check out the event on Facebook!

Lunch provided! Please RSVP by Friday, March 4, 2016 to Elle Bacon, ebacon@middlebury.edu.

Alicia Roderigue is the AmeriCorp Team Leader for the City of Burlington’s Community and Economic Development Office. She is responsible for providing support to team members at their service sites, facilitating bi-weekly team meetings, and leading topical discussions related to issues surrounding social justice, diversity, and marginalized populations. Alicia also serves as the program liaison between more than fifteen non-profit organizations and City Departments and CEDO.

 

Eimilie Bishop serves as a AmeriCorps State Member at the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services as an Outreach Coordinator. She advocates for restorative justice indicatives in crime victim services. She also does outreach services to victims of crime with disabilities or have limited English proficiency.

 

Elle Bacon serves as the AmeriCorps*VISTA at Middlebury College’s Community Engagement Office. Elle works on continuing initiatives related the Privilege & Poverty Academic Cluster, as well as annual Community Engagement events. She strives to mobilize and educate students through service in areas of poverty alleviation.

 

Benji Thurber is the Communications and Technology Manager at Mobius. Benji graduated from Middlebury College in 2008, and received his Bachelor’s degree in English and American Literature. Benji joined Mobius as an AmeriCorps VISTA member (through the Vermont Youth Tomorrow program) in 2009, and helped recruit new mentors, promote public awareness of the mentoring cause, and expanded the Mentor Discount Card program for mentor pairs in Chittenden County.  Benji transitioned to a staff position with the organization in 2011, and worked collaboratively with mentoring programs and funders across the state to expand the organization into Vermont’s Mentoring Partnership.  In his current position as Communications and Technology Manager, he manages communications and marketing for the organization, and works with mentoring agency staff to expand public awareness efforts across the state. He is also the administrator for the Vermont Mentoring Database, an online system that allows mentoring agencies to store program information on the Mobius website, apply for grants, and manage information and outcome data for their mentoring matches.

Ashley on MiddView

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“After the MiddView trips, community partners and community members say how glad they are that Middlebury College students choose to engage, help meet community based needs, and take the time to listen to their stories. I think that these community engagement trips provide a great opportunity for first years to interact with local community members.”

-Ashley Laux, Associate Director of Community Engagement