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CUCE-NYC partnering to expand urban farming in Manhattan

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Philson Warner and Christa Torres demonstrate Cornell’s mobile hydroponics unit.

Philson Warner and Christa Torres demonstrate Cornell’s mobile hydroponics unit.

Cornell Cooperative Extension-New York City (CUCE-NYC), a leader in farming programs in the city, will join with Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer to expand urban agriculture projects in city schools, public housing facilities, and senior centers. The borough will dedicate up to $1 million to such projects in the coming year.

BCTR director of outreach and community engagement Jennifer Tiffany also serves as CUCE-NYC executive director. She described a partnership between Cornell and Manhattan’s Food and Finance High School (FFHS) as a model for urban farming programs that support youth development and STEM education.

Our school-based hydroponics and aquaponics programs will play a key role in the expansion of urban agriculture envisioned by borough President Brewer. We already engage hundreds of New York City youth each year in experiential learning about science and entrepreneurship while supplying schools and local communities with high-quality produce – many varieties of lettuce, herbs and Chinese cabbage – as well as fresh fish.

At the recent press conference announcing the borough's urban farming plans, Brewer also released a report, How Our Gardens Grow: Strategies for Expanding Urban Agriculture, the result of nearly 6 months of surveys, interviews, and site visits with administrators of urban farms in Manhattan. The event also featured a demonstration of a mobile hydroponic farming unit by Philson Warner, CUCE-NYC extension associate, and Christa Torres, a junior at FFHS. A Hydroponic Learning Model, developed by Warner, teaches students through experience.

Additionally, Brewer and CUCE-NYC will hold an Urban Farming Symposium this fall to bring together city farmers and Cornell experts.


Cornell seeds urban farming in the Big Apple - Cornell Chronicle


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Iscol Summer Scholars help organize Brooklyn health fair

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Iscol Scholars Ovais Tahir and David Cheng

Iscol Scholars Ovais Tahir and David Cheng

This summer the Iscol Summer Scholars, participants in the Cornell Urban Semester Summer in NYC, hosted a health fair, Take Control of Your Health,  in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. Over 200 attending families received health tests including blood pressure, cholesterol and asthma screenings, BMI measurements, and got information on colon and breast cancer. In addition to health tests, families were able to meet privately with a medical doctor to review their health status and receive recommendations for healthier living.

Along with 60 Urban Semester students, the four Iscol Scholars (Deanna Blansky, David Cheng, Jessica Park, and Ovais Tahir) planned the health fair, with tasks ranging from coordinating staffing, supplying food and decorations, meeting with Woodhull Medical Center staff to discuss what medical services and information would be offered, and setting up and supervising the event. Spanish-speaking students helped publicized the health fair by speaking about the health fair at the host church in the preceding weeks.

The health fair was made possible through the collaboration of the Urban Semester Program, Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center, and the St. Joseph Patron church.

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Jennifer Tiffany named Executive Director of CUCE-NYC

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Jennifer Tiffany

Jennifer Tiffany

This week College of Human Ecology (CHE) dean Alan Mathios announced that Jennifer Tiffany will permanently serve as Executive Director for Cornell University Cooperative Extension in New York City (CUCE-NYC). She had been acting as interim director since the sudden loss of Donald Tobias in November, 2013.

In addition to her role as BCTR Director of Outreach and Community Engagement, Jennifer will continue to serve as Associate Director-Human Ecology of Cornell Cooperative Extension and as CHE’s Associate Director for Outreach and Extension. These positions, in conjunction with the newly-permanent CUCE-NYC directorship, put her in a prime position to connect and promote center and college research with communities throughout New York State and beyond, while also working to increase community members’, policy makers', and practitioners’ participation in developing research projects and agendas.

Tiffany named NYC cooperative extension director - Cornell Chronicle

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Student hydroponics lab is the only one in NYC

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Jennifer Tiffany, Roger Turgeon, and Jennifer Sirangelo

In the basement of the Food and Finance High School on W. 50th Street in Manhattan, tilapia swim in large, circular tanks. Under the guidance of Cornell Cooperative Extension applied scientist and extension associate Philson Warner, students help raise these and other varieties of fish that go on to be used in school lunches, distributed to green markets, and donated to hunger relief programs. By working in the  Hydroponics, Aquaculture, Aquaponics Learning Lab, students fulfill their state-mandated science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) lab requirements.

Recently Jennifer Sirangelo, National 4-H Council president, toured the labs to see how 4-H students are excelling in STEM projects. The tour was led by students, but the BCTR's Jennifer Tiffany, interim executive director of Cornell University Cooperative Extension - NYC and the school's principle Roger Turgeon we on hand. The labs were originally created as a part of the school's culinary program. The labs also include a hydroponics facility a few floors up. There waste from the fish is used in a nutrient-rich, soil-free culture to raise vegetables. The hydroponics process also serves to clean the water, which is then returned to the aquaponics lab to raise more fish, creating a symbiotic loop.







Video: Fish Farm Coop, Students Get Along Swimmingly in Hell's Kitchen - NY 1

Big Apple's Only Hydroponic Student Lab Showcased - Cornell Chronicle
Food and Finance High School Impacts Students and 4-H Alum in STEM - 4-H Today

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Talks at Twelve: Carol Devine and Pamela Weisberg-Shapiro, Tuesday, April 30, 2013

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Food Choices among Dominican Women in New York City: Interaction of Food Culture and Environment
Carol Devine and Pamela Weisberg-Shapiro, Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University

Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room

This talk is open to all. Lunch will be served. Metered parking is available in the Plantations lot across the road from Beebe Hall.

This is a BCTR Innovative Pilot Study Grant recipient talk.

Dominicans are a large and growing population in New York City with significant health and economic challenges. This qualitative study investigated how Dominican women defined and interacted with their food environments and how socio-cultural factors shaped their choices with implications for nutrition interventions in urban communities.

Project collaborators:
Carol Devine, PhD, RD Professor, Division of Nutritional Sciences
Pamela Weisberg-Shapiro, MPH, RD, Doctoral Candidate, Division of Nutritional Sciences
Sandra P Gucciardi, MPH, RD, Extension Associate, Cornell University Cooperative Extension of New York City

Carol Devine is Professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University, where she studies continuity and change in nutrition practices over the life course and how these practices are affected by life transitions, social roles such as work and family life, and the lived environment. She has over 35 years of community nutrition research and outreach experience, focusing on the use of environmental strategies to promote healthy eating and physical activity in worksites, childcare, and other community settings. Professor Devine is a Co-Investigator on SCALE (Small Changes Lasting Effects), an NHLBI-funded weight loss intervention with low income Black and Latino adults in New York City. She is a member of the Cornell NutritionWorks team, offering on-line professional development for over 10,000 nutrition and health professionals around the world and is a co-author of an online course on ecological approaches to obesity prevention. She earned her doctorate in nutrition from Cornell University, her master’s degree from Tufts University, and her bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire.

Pamela Weisberg-Shapiro is a doctoral candidate in Community Nutrition in the Division of Nutritional Sciences. She received her bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Sciences from Cornell University and Master’s in Public Health from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. After completing her MPH, she moved to New York City to work in field of health education where her experience as a researcher at the Mount Sinai Hospital and Program Manager at HIP Health Plan fueled her interest in health disparities in urban areas. In an effort to better understand how health disparities can be ameliorated, she has focused her dissertation research on Dominican women living in Washington Heights and the South Bronx, which you will be hearing about today.


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Iscol Scholars hold health fair in Brooklyn

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Aaron Oswald (A&S), Said Israilov (CHE), Juhi Purswani(CHE), Diana Cheung (CHE), Luz Aceves (CHE-HD ‘12)

Saturday, July 28 the Iscol summer Scholars who are in the Cornell Urban Semester Summer in NYC held a health fair at Nuestros Ninos in Brooklyn as part of their public service mission. The fair included (among other things) opportunities for exercise and healthy snacks for kids and parents, screening for hypertension and hyperglycemia, and information about dental hygine, asthma, and diabetes. One of the main focuses of the fair was to better connect Woodhull Medical Center with the Latino community in North Brooklyn.

They were able to screen over 70 community members for blood glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure. The dental screenings and asthma peak flow tests were equally successful with the children and adults who came to the event. Several people who had borderline/high test values were referred to the clinic for follow up appointments. One patient was even directed to go to the ER for her extremely high BP. Councilwoman Diana Reyna and Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez also came to get themselves checked up!

The Zumba and yoga instructors were both very popular with the crowd, as were the artists who came in from Woodhull Medical Center to do facepainting and crafts. The jump rope and hula hoop competition was also a hit with every child going home with a hula hoop and jump rope.

Cornell Chronicle article on the event.


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