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Penn State's 'Stories From the Field' Returns With Spring 2024 Lineup
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 02/12/2024

Penn State’s “Stories from the Field” conversation series is returning this spring with two new sessions. Topics will include community and economic development work in the changing and diversifying city of Hazelton, as well as helping Pennsylvania’s communities reduce emissions with the Local Climate Action Program.

The aim of the series is to explore the "why” and “how” of community engagement and applied research, including why people approach their work the way they do and how it looks and feels on the ground. Each session will be interactive, and participants are invited to ask questions and share insights from their own experiences.

The series, which will take place via Zoom, is free and open to anyone interested in attending, including undergraduate and graduate students. Registration is required.

The first conversation — taking place from noon to 1 p.m. Feb. 21 — will feature Krista Schneider, a technical adviser for the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program, who previously served as the founding executive director of the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress, where she was responsible for the strategic planning, fundraising and implementation of targeted revitalization initiatives.

According to Schneider, Hazleton has changed significantly since its founding in 1857. Once a coal mining town, the city of 30,000 is now home to a growing Hispanic community that represents 65% of the population.

In her session, Schneider will share stories about the process and challenges of doing community and economic development work in a dramatically changing and diversifying small city. She'll share some of the key lessons she learned, including the importance of building trust, conversations about cultural identity, and Hispanic representation in organizational leadership, as well as insights into the mindset needed to affect institutional change.

The second talk will feature Brandi Robinson, associate teaching professor in the Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering, and Peter Buck, associate director of climate and sustainability education at Penn State Sustainability. Their session will take place from noon to 1 p.m. March 21.

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