Sometimes when we think of the word, “education,” our thoughts are limited to K-12 public schools, colleges, or graduate schools. Options for continuing education happen in many other ways, however. We are fortunate in the Chautauqua region to have wonderful opportunities for self-improvement and advancement outside of traditional academic settings.
One organization making a significant impact on families and young children is the Jamestown Area Learning Council (JCLC). The agency began in 1990 as a means of helping parents and families “nurture, support, and provide for their child’s academic development, emotional growth and physical well-being, by establishing effective relationships between home and school.”
JCLC offers a wide variety of programs throughout the county. The Community Foundation is currently offering financial support to its Parents as Teachers initiative or PAT. Director, Rosary Kolivas, explained, “Appreciating parents are their children’s most influential teachers, PAT provides fun, interactive parent/child activities designed to foster developmental milestones for every age and stage of early childhood from birth through age five.”
Research-based information delivered by trained and qualified home visitors enables parents to become experts in preparing their children for school and educational success. Increased involvement in school, confidence in parenting skills, and ability to detect possible learning delays or health issues, all translate to better school performance, test readiness, emotional and physical health for those children who most need a head start.
Sarah is a young mother and past recipient of PAT services who is making great personal strides due in large measure to the care and direction she received from her PAT home visitor. She says, “I believe all parents, no matter what their economic situation or age should receive parenting classes.”
Infinity Visual and Performing Arts gives talented young people a chance to individually express themselves in a variety of ways. Studies indicate music promotes brain development, academic success, verbal competency, fine motor skills, and character development. There are currently over 300 music students taking private lessons through Infinity, allowing them to participate in school concert bands, orchestras, and/or marching bands.
Every spring, the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) holds its annual Area All-State Music Festival for voice and instrument. Instrumentalists in grades 10 and 11 are evaluated by a panel of judges on a musical piece of their choice which they must perform as a solo. Moreover, they are asked to sight read, as well as, play musical scales and rudiments. Students receiving the highest ratings are then considered for All-State recognition. Regardless of outcome, these young musicians learn by facing personal challenge, obtaining process-based feedback, and networking with other students and instructors.
Knowing students would benefit from additional instruction prior to NYSSMA, Infinity received a grant from the Community Foundation to help them prepare for the upcoming festival. In a workshop held April 30, participants worked with qualified instructors, enhancing their musical and technical skills. Performing in front of a mock panel of adjudicators, they gained necessary confidence for playing under pressure.
Sarah Marchitelli, Director of Instruction, said, “Thanks to CRCF’s generous funding of this project, local students are able to get a little extra help preparing for the NYSSMA Solo Festival at no cost to them. We are so appreciative of the support that CRCF has given us.”
According to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County, there are currently 1,500 local farms. While 50% of them are considered “small,” the agricultural industry is constantly changing and it is important farmers of every size address these challenges in order to survive. Consolidation, generational succession gaps, growth potential, and diversification must all be considered for success. Farming little resembles the occupation it was even a generation ago becoming a much more sophisticated and technologically integrated profession.
The Community Foundation recognizes the needs of agriculturalists and is adding its support by awarding funds to its crop management classes and LEAF (Learn, Empower, Achieve, Farm) Pilot program, which educates beginning farmers and individuals interested in growing agricultural products for personal use.
On March 10, speakers from Cornell University and Western New York Crop Management Association shared their expertise on the latest advancements in agriculture, including pest and weed control using safe herbicides and pesticides. Required DEC pesticides recertification credits were also issued to attendees. Farmers, livestock producers, and their employees received education about current practice improvements, new agricultural opportunities, and technological advancements.
What does the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation have to do with YOU? If you are interested in educational programs or attending college, the answer is EVERYTHING. In 2015, the Foundation’s Fund for the Region awarded students over $950,000 to further their education at two-year or four-year colleges and universities across the country! It also granted nearly $400,000 to educational programs throughout the region.