Saturday, February 19, 2011

What a project!

Sitting here on this Saturday afternoon, I have a lot of time to think.  My plans to see my friends and eat warm chili at the chili cook off have been cancelled due to the blizzard right outside my window.  But that's okay...because my project is getting a lot of attention as a result.

What I like about WISE, and what I have said to numerous people is that: the best thing about WISE is that you can take your project in any direction you want.  There is no right or wrong final product.  If something changes, no problem! If I spend all of my time reading and not doing, so be it! This project is whatever I make of it.

But I guess I never really pondered that thought enough...
As soon as my long and tiring process of choosing a project was over, I became focused on getting in contact with Cayuga Landscaping, and any other companies like that.  But what about my previous project ideas?  What about my learning photography? Or doing community work?  I left those ideas all in the dust as I ventured out to work in the garden.  But that's not what WISE is about.  Not for me.  I can incorporate everything and anything that I want in this project.  So I came up with some new ideas. 

First of all, the Cornell Cooperative Extension is my new best friend.  Not only I am doing my Master Composter class there, but I am planning to attend so many other classes there (I will mention them later on....)  Also through my work with the co-op, I have made some phenomenal contacts.  Not only for my WISE project, but for other things like my work with the Green Team.  So, go Cornell Co-op!

Secondly, you know my plan to do a landscaping project at the end of the year using all of the knowledge that I have learned through out the semester?  but I still had to come up with where to do it, who to do it for and where to get the money and or materials?  Well problem partially solved.  Cornell Co-op is always sponsoring events to enrich the community and the environment.  And through my project I plan to give them just this. 
Instead of making this final project all about my work, I want to involve the community.  I hope that the Co-op will be able to give me some help in finding an area, person and/or business that needs a landscaping project done.  Then I will do the designing for the area.  Next I will publicize like crazy and get all the enthusiasts that volunteer at the Co-op and the children's garden and the Tompkins County Beautification Brigade, and the Green Team and staff/students from IHS to help create my design.  I will organize groups that will plant, mulch, weed, build, etc. 
Basically what I am envisioning is a huge crazy gardening landscaping day where tons of people from the community come out and participate in making beauty in nature.  I know I can do this with the help of some others.  This is what I really want.  I want to combine everything that I am interested in.  And I know that I can! As for the photography part, I know a lot of photographers that could come out and take pictures of the event.  It will be extraordinary.  If I need to raise money for the event, I have an idea for that too! My family is very close to the owner for the Ithaca Dance Oasis (formerly known as Common Ground).  I bet that I could do a benefit dance or two and raise lots of money. 

Everything seems to be falling into place, but there is so much to do!!! And did I forget to mention that I have lots to do outside of my project, like everything else in my life? ahh!!! So much stuff, but so much excitement. I love it.

Anyway, referring back to the other classes at co-op that I plan to attend:
-Getting Started with Vegetable Gardening on Wed. the 23rd.
-2011 Home and Garden Show on Fri. March 4th
-CSA fair Saturday March 5th
-Garden Travel Slide Show on Sat. March 12th
-Guided Tree Walk on Sat. March 19th or April 9th
-Wildflower and Fern Walk on May 21st
-Open Days Garden Tours on June 11th

Ok cool, So for now: keep these ideas coming and start talking about them with Liz and Adam from the Co-op, Mr.Creagan, and Dan from the beautification brigade.  Get in touch with David Fernandez and keep working on those outdoor hanging shelves that I'm trying to build...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New job, New student...wait what?!

Tonight was my first Master Composter class at the Cornell Cooperative Extension!

As as sat in the semi circle, looking around at the faces of my fellow classmates (all of which are older than me) and listened to the directors talking about the 60 hours of service plus the homework assignments required in the course.... I began to wonder if I was in the right place.

I was secretly thinking to myself...these people are all adults! They seem way more serious about composting than I do, and they seem to have way more time to commit to this demanding class.  But, no worries, I stuck it out for the two hours and came to realize that the Master Composter class will bring me more than just an extensive knowledge of worm excrement.

The class began by explaining the basics of the class, the agenda, and so forth.  Then we went around the semi circle and told a little bit about ourselves in 20 seconds.  Everyone mainly talked about their fascination with compost.  As I listened to these people talk, I found two immediate sources for my wise project.  Pretty cool, right?  I was reassured that taking this class is not too unrelated from my project, and can offer me some good contacts.

Before I talk about the people I met tonight I will discuss a little bit about what I learned.
-The compost class was made in efforts to support the Tompkins County Solid Waste mission to maximize waste diversion.
-Last year, the master composters volunteered 2,126 hours of service.  This is equvialent to having another full time employee on the cornell cooperative extension staff.
-The Master Composter class does not only hope to educate their students, but to equip those students to educate others as much as possible and to get them involved in this community.
-Each person in the class is responsible for giving one mini presentation on a compost related topic.

What I got out of this class.
-I am now a student, required to do 60 hours of service, homework and class time for this program.
-I am now a staff member of the Cornell Co-op.  because I will be helping the Master Composters at the Co-op to do their jobs of educating and promoting composting in the community.
-I will learn so much about composting, that at the end I will be an official Master :)
-We are all here to learn and have a good time in the process.

One of the women in the class was talking about herself in the allotted 20 seconds, and mentioned that she was a Landscape Architect.  whooaaa!!!! That's exactly what I need! So I got her information at the end of the class and I will get in contact with her to learn more about the field.
I also got the name of  a Community Energy Educator from Cornell.  Although this is not related to my project, it will be a perfect edition to what the green team is planning: The Living Green Series.  This will be a month long event where we will bring in speakers to the school to encourage IHS faculty, teachers, and students to live greener. 
Lastly, I got a lot of fliers and informational packets from the Co-op about learning to garden and classes to take.

So lot's of contacts, and lots of excitement.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mentor Notes

After rescheduling a few times and tyring to sync our busy schedules, Mr.Creagan and I finally had our first mentor meeting! I'm not exactly sure whether to record my meeting notes in a seperate journal, or to blog about them.  So for now, I will blog away!

Today we talked about what I have done so far- which is got into the Master Composter class at cornell and made plans for an internship with David Fernandez and a final landscaping project.  Mr.Creagan, if you don't know, is VERY experience with landscape design, and has done a lot of work in that area.  He suggested that we could work together on the details of planting a new tree in the quad.  He also gave me a helpful source- that lets me do professional like sketches online. 

Mr.Creagan will be a great source for keeping me on track, inspiring me with new ideas and helping me out with projects in the field.

Tomorrow is my first Master Composter class!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

60 Hours

So, great news and not so great news.

I had my interview last night for the Master Composter Class.  I knew the director already, so that made the interview a little less intimidating.  Besides that, I felt the interview went really really well! I will hear back on Monday if I got in or not.

Not so great news? 60 hours of volunteer service are required in order to get my master composter certificate.  Yes, that's right. 60 hours of service.  That's so much! I have until december to complete them though, which makes it a little easier- but there are two problems with that deadline.  One: I will not have my certificate by the end of my wise project.  Which is fine, but it would be super cool if I was able to finish my hours and get the certificate by June! Two: If I go to college anywhere other than Cornell or IC I won't be able to continue my volunteer hours at my new location. The service hours are only counted if done in Tompkins County.  I really want to find out more info on the service though.  Does the service need to be compost related? Or can it be any kind of service?  I guess I will find out if I get in!

On a different note- tonight I will be making a very important phone call.  Tonight is the night I call David Fernandez to see if I will be able to get an internship at Cayuga Landscaping.  I'm really focusing a lot of my project on this if it doesn't's back to planning.  I hope to gain a lot of insight, knowledge and experience through this internship.  I'll make the call tonight.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Hey! Step one of operation two week: complete! I am proud to say that I was the first person in the 2010-2011 WISE program to be exited.  Success.

Step two of operation two week is also moving along quite nicely, although somewhat more complicated than I had imagined.  My application for the Master Composter Class is in and complete.  This year, though, it looks like three times as many people signed up for the class than the class can actually admit.  That means there is going to be some competition.  Tomorrow I have an interview with Adam Michaelides who is the Program Manager for the class.  We'll see how it goes!

Progress feels good.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Operation 2 Week

So, what's my two week plan?
*First on the list: Get exited from WISE!! This means to get dismissed from class, therefore I will have first period free to sleep in! I on my project. :-)  Hopefully this will happen by Monday the 7th or Tuesday the 8th.
* My next plan is to sign up for the master composting class at the Cornell Cooperative Extension.  I also want to pick up an application for the master gardener class.  This will be done on Wednesday 9th or Thursday 10th.
* By Friday the 11th I plan to either have gone to Cayuga Landscaping, or called to speak with David Fernandez.  He is the owner and manager of Cayuga Landscaping, and I hope to get an internship there in order to help out and learn the ropes.
*Other research resources that I will look to the week of the 14th are Dan Klein and the "Simple Handmade Garden Furniture" book.  I worked with Dan Klein with the Beautification Brigade, and hope to get some extra info on where to intern from him.  The week of the 14th I also plan to pick out one project from the garden furniture book and see where I get with it in one week.  I am most excited to do some hands on work, so why not just see the level I am at right now with my wood working?
Looking Ahead:
*The 19th and 20th of February I am taking a visit to my home town in Pennsylvania and staying with some family friends.  One of them happens to be a carpenter.  I hope to ask him a few questions, and maybe get a some experience helping him over that weekend. 
*Thursday evenings starting the 17th is the master composting class!

Dear Reader

Wise-scaping? What's that?
          Well, Wise-scaping isn't an actual term.  It's a play on words that I created to signify the combination of landscaping with a wise project.  It took me quite a long time to figure out what exactly I wanted to do for my WISE project.  And for those of you who are not familiar with WISE, it's an English class that takes the first semester to do the regular kind of English stuff (reading, writing essays, etc.) and then the second semester is given to the student to do some sort of project.  At first, I thought it would be fun to learn photography.  Then, I decided that I wanted to train and run a marathon benefiting a certain cause.  Next, I thought maybe I should go on a quest to lower my carbon footprint.  As you can see, it was a long process just to choose what I wanted to do for my second semester of my senior year.  It's kind of a big decision.  Finally, I came up with Wise-scaping.
         Over the summer I did a lot of work with the Tompkins County Beautification Brigade.  As a part of this organization, I did a lot of work planting flowers around Ithaca- the commons, traffic circles, parks, etc.  The feeling of giving back to the environment, while enhancing the community, and being creative with the design was so rewarding.  Therefore, I plant to do just this but in a larger scale for my WISE project.  Right now I hope to get an internship with Cayuga Landscaping and learn as much as I can about landscaping design, vegetation types and care, and wood/stone construction.  Then my goal is to take that knowledge and do a landscaping project either in my backyard or for someone/ some organization in the community.  There is a lot to think about, a lot to do, and a lot of maybes involved in my project.  But that's what I like so much about it.  I don't know where I'm going, and I don't know where I will end up- but I will be learning and experiencing the whole way through.  So exciting!!!
           Some goals- get an internship at Cayuga Landscaping.  Join the master composting and master gardener classes at Cornell Co-op.   Build some simple garden furniture or props with my own tools and materials.  Learn more about plants, flowers and gardening.  Lastly, find out where and how I can do a landscaping project in the community. Wish me luck!