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Posted Sunday, July 5th, 2020

Funding Offsets Costs of Interdisciplinary Programming that Engages 500 Students Annually – Even Virtually

The “Project Yellowstone” academic program at County College of Morris has been awarded a New Jersey Council for the Humanities COVID-19 response grant, which will help finance upcoming experiences for students at CCM.

Four people standing in front of the Yellowstone National Park sign, which is on the side of a road. Some snow on the ground, lots of trees in the backgorund.

In 2019, the “Project Yellowstone” team at County College of Morris traveled to Yellowstone National Park for an exploratory and education trip. Michelle Iden, Samantha Gigliotti, Maria Isaza, and  John Soltes  Photo: Project Yellowstone at County College of Morris

Award-winning “Project Yellowstone,” which offers numerous learning opportunities each year, is part of a CCM Community and Civic Engagement initiative that offers interdisciplinary programs, which bring together the academic disciplines of history, journalism, and biology to enhance student learning and community engagement. Programs offered on and off campus focus on environmental history and conservation via the lens of the National Park system, and has engaged more than 500 CCM students each year.

Nonprofit organizations that provide humanities programming to public audiences and who are facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic were able to apply for funding via the federal CARES Act. The funding, allocated through the National Endowment for the Humanities, provided resources to allow the state Council to build a special COVID-19 response grant program. Funds were made available for operational and program support.

The CCM program was developed three years ago by several professors and instructors in various fields:  Michelle Iden, history and political science; Samantha Gigliotti and Maria Isaza, biology and chemistry;  John Soltes, communication. For the past two years, they have traveled to Yellowstone National Park to create greater awareness about conservation and protected lands and to share their experiences with CCM students and the public.

ccm logoIn October, 2020, the team had scheduled an educational and exploratory trip for six CCM students to Yellowstone. Due to COVID-19, the educational trip was indefinitely postponed. They hope to travel to the national park in May, 2021.

“This award is a testament to the quality of the program and the hard work of a very creative group of faculty. Students are learning about the natural environment from several perspectives and coming to understand how different academic disciplines work together,” said CCM Vice President of Academic Affairs John Marlin.

The NJCH grant will help finance “Project Yellowstone” programming scheduled for the Fall 2020 semester and Spring semester 2021.  Here is a partial list of planned Fall programming:

In September, a guided tour of the Great Swamp in Morristown will be given by Professor Gigliotti via a video-conferencing tool.

A public book discussion of John Krakauer’s “Into the Wild” will occur in October.

Dr. Shane Doyle, Native American Scholar and member of the Crow nation will give a public zoom presentation.

A faculty and staff book discussion of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”

Complete details of other Project Yellowstone programming will be forthcoming when adjustments are decided upon corresponding to the pandemic.