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Capstone Projects

Citizen Science: A Tool for Better Preserving Backcountry Infrastructure at Paul Smith’s College.

Mon, 05/02/2022 - 22:34
Abstract: The Adirondacks have been home to a many steward of its land. Paul Smith’s College prides itself in encouraging a culture which promotes this long-held ideology to preserve natural resources. It is a school which prides itself in its unique location as well as resources. One of these many resources is its extensive backcountry property and the plethora of structures located within it. Many of these structures are what’s known as lean-tos. Over the course of the 2022 Spring semester, the Parks and Recreation Capstone class surveyed and identified the conditions of 15/16 the school’s remaining lean-tos. A particularly outstanding issue with this however, was the resources and organization required of the school to collect this data. This research paper examines the positive values that the implementation of citizen science programs has had on a national level. Furthermore, my individual contribution to this class’s Capstone was the implementation of a volunteer fed databank exclusively used for the documenting of lean-tos in the Paul Smith’s College backcountry. The scope and intent of this project was to pass this resource on for further development and active use by Paul Smith’s College, related committees, and its backcountry maintenance initiatives.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism, Recreation, Adventure Education and Leisure Management, Parks, Recreation and Facilities Management, Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2022
Authors: Matthew T. Huffman

An Analysis of Invertebrate Richness with Designated Pollinator-Plots on Paul Smith's College Campus

Thu, 07/07/2022 - 15:35
Abstract: Anthropogenic grasslands, areas which have been manipulated by humanity to be species homogenous and are composed primarily of turf-grass species, have been a key fixture in the American landscape for over a hundred years, but little is known about the ecological impacts of these lawn-scapes. Paul Smith’s College has established meadow restoration zones, also referred to as “Pollinator Plots”, in areas that were previously anthropogenic grasslands to collect data regarding various components of meadow restoration and to document successional changes within the sites over several years. This study is the first assessment of invertebrate assemblages within these pollinator plots. Invertebrate assemblages were examined in two meadow restoration groups which include dry-slope plots and moist flat plots. Reference meadows, meadows that have been established for several years and have not been anthropogenically disturbed, were used as a baseline to which the other meadow groups were compared to. Specimens were collected using sweep nets and pitfall traps. Invertebrates were counted and identified to the lowest taxonomic level. Invertebrate richness was highest in reference sites, which are well-established meadows, and moist-flat locations whereas dry-slope locations had the least overall invertebrate richness. The restoration plots had lower invertebrate richness and abundance overall, however, the differences were not large enough to be statistically significant. The data obtained from this assessment is a baseline that can be compared to in future studies in these plots throughout time. Keywords Invertebrate - Pollinators - Grasslands - Lawns - Meadow – Restoration
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2021
Authors: Savannah Hoy

Welcome Week Canoe Trip

Mon, 07/18/2022 - 11:24
Abstract: Our capstone group researched the potential benefits of implementing a welcome week canoe trip for incoming students at Paul Smith’s College (PSC). These kinds of outdoor orientation programs have been found to be useful in socializing new students, forming bonds with classmates, and building confidence amongst the participants. This trip would be targeted at new students primarily in the Recreation, Adventure Education and Leisure Management program, and the Parks and Conservation Management program. The research we conducted as well as information we gathered from scholarly articles led us to believe that implementing this trip would be beneficial for new students and would benefit them throughout their college careers.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies, Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2021
Authors: Logan Hoyt, Denis Dean, Jack Palmer

Improving Development & Image of The Park & Recreation Programs Across Paul Smith’s College

Mon, 07/18/2022 - 13:02
Abstract: Paul Smith’s College is a school of prestige when it comes to Environmental Studies, Environmental Science, Forestry, Culinary, & most importantly Parks and Recreation. The program has been awarded multiple times in the past 10 years. But a ropes course, at 30% functionality, haunts the Parks and Recreation students and the entire student body of what they could be doing. The canoe rental station has poor hours from 12 to 4 everyday, an outdated Parks and Recreation room with not even the most basic of resources. How can the 84 students out of 155 that stated they partake in paddling activities in our survey fully enjoy the school’s canoeing capabilities if the place to get the equipment is closed most of the day? How does this make our Parks and Recreation program, and distinguished institution, look in the eyes of the public? With outdoor recreation already being an expensive and selective activity; the only way to make it more accessible to everyone is to change the perception of the major, and the enterprise as a whole. This is not a groveling commentary of the school's recreation; Paul Smith’s location alone is a form of recreation. There just needs to be a change in the behavior towards these two majors from both students and faculty. The case study that will be discussed is a collection of surveys, interviews, research, and focus groups to confirm that the need to recreate on campus is there, and ready for a change. Through our research we found that fully renovated recreational classrooms together with its facilities, the incorporation of language and spaces that hold true to the definition of inclusivity, plus the oration of the barriers that come with recreation; are required to reach the goal of developing intrinsic motivation in all (not just P&R majors) current and prospective students of the college to change the perception of the program.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism, Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2021
Authors: Gibson Gilmore, Dylan Maney, Christopher Squillante, James Vogel

RAELM and PACM Program Review and Diversity Oriented Marketing Strategy for Prospective Students

Mon, 07/18/2022 - 11:15
Abstract: Marketing strategy for RAELM and PACM programs at Paul Smiths College. Diversity and inclusion through proactive marketing techniques, redesign of Paul Smith's College webpage and creation of additional literature for RAELM and PACM program use.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2021
Authors: Nathan Greene, Nicholas Brewer

The Lower St. Regis Lake Shoreline: Understanding the Past, Analyzing the Present, and Recommendations for the Future

Sat, 05/09/2020 - 11:54
Abstract: Continuing shoreline research and restoration planning will help Paul Smith’s College adhere to their own missions and visions including experiential learning, improving students' lives, and maintaining an ecological conscience as a community.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Ecological Restoration, Environmental Sciences
Year: 2020
Authors: Zoe Plant, Thomas Firkins, Julie Capito, and Benjamin Marshall

The Influence of Microtopography on the Spatial Distribution of Peatland Plants

Mon, 04/27/2020 - 13:01
Abstract: Microtopography in peatlands creates structural patterns within the environment that, if understood, could allow for more comprehensive wetland management and restoration plans to be constructed. The objectives of this study are to determine: 1) the spatial scale at which microtopography occurs on in Adirondack peatlands; 2) if hummock size changes in relation to the distance from the forested wetland edge; and 3) if individual plant species respond to, or vary, in relation to microtopography and abiotic factors. To determine the influence of microtopography on peatland plants, data were collected on the surface area and height distributions of hummocks, the distance between hummocks and the abiotic soil characteristics. Plant species richness, and percent cover data were collected on hummocks only. The spatial scale of microtopography was determined to be regularly distributed across the sampling area. There was no significant correlation between the distance from the coniferous-edge and the relative size of hummocks. Plant species richness was found to be higher on hummocks as opposed to hollows. Using a combination of correlation and multiple regression analysis we determined that leather leaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), and common cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpa) were correlated to individual abiotic variables. The variability of the percent cover of leather leaf was explained by increasing surface area, lower soil temperatures, and lower pH; the variability of the percent cover of lowbush blueberry was explained by increasing oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) and lower pH; and the variability of the percent cover of common cranberry was explained by lower hummock height alone. Only three of the common plants identified were correlated with the abiotic variables measured. Further research should be done to continue to determine the primary influence of the elevational gradients on the plant species composition and to determine the resilience of these systems to changing climate.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2020
Authors: Joshua T. Young

Developing a Bird Integrity Index (BII) for Use as an Indicator of Stream Condition in the Northern Adirondack Park

Mon, 04/27/2020 - 12:50
Abstract: The primary goal of this research was to create a Bird Integrity Index (BII) to be used for the ecological integrity analysis of streams and their related riparian zones in the northern Adirondack Park based on frameworks provided by previous research in Oregon. Fifty-eight metrics were tested from avian survey (point count) data along fifteen stream reaches of 0.5km in length. These metrics represented aspects of avian taxonomic richness, dietary preferences, foraging techniques, tolerance or intolerance to human disturbance, and nesting strategies. To evaluate the responsiveness of each metric, they were plotted against an index of stream condition based on sampling of benthic macroinvertebrates according to the outline provided by the stream biomonitoring research unit of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Five of the fifty-eight candidate metrics remained after removing metrics that had an R2 value of less than .2 or were highly correlated. Individual avian metric scores ranged from 0-10 and BII scores were set on a scale of 0-100. While the BII presented here was successful in responding to varying conditions based on disturbance levels (R2= .64), due to multiple unexpected relationships between avian metrics and stream condition, it is proposed that more in-depth and comparative research be completed before an Adirondack specific BII is presented for field usage.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Jesse Rock Capstone.pdf
Authors: Jesse Rock

RAELM and PACM Program Analysis: Does the Online Presence Match the Experience?

Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:52
Abstract: This is a research-based project that analyzes the Recreation, Adventure Education, and Leisure Management (RAELM) and Parks and Conservation Management (PACM) programs at Paul Smith’s College. The purpose of this research is to determine if there is a gap between the current advertised representation of the RAELM and PACM programs on the official Paul Smith’s College website and social media, and the experiences that current students within these programs have. The research includes an analysis of the programs’ current representation on the Paul Smith’s College website and social media, data collected from interviewing faculty involved in the program and surveying current students, and a literature synthesis of similar research projects and academic curriculums.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism, Recreation, Adventure Education and Leisure Management
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Final Draft.edited.docx
Authors: Rowan McBurney, Will Lord

Management Capstone

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 15:38
Abstract: The management capstone planned an event for the Paul Smiths college community to partake in. They conducted interviews of event planners, spoke to different departments within the school, created a budget, and executed the event. Their event was based around earth day and sustainable practices. They were able to track the number of attendees through a sign-in sheet and satisfaction of the event through a survey. The capstone students learned what it takes to plan events, how to execute them, and how to track their impact on the community involved.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Entrepreneurial Business Studies
Year: 2019
Authors: Natalina Bevilacqua
Gabrielle Fronckowiak