BCTR Research Associate Kristen Elmore was named a Faculty Fellow in Engaged Learning for the 2019-20 school year. The program was designed to support faculty members who are dedicated to advancing community-engaged learning at Cornell and within their respective fields.
Elmore is the assistant director of the Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement, or PRYDE, which aims to make the New York State 4-H Youth Development Program a “living laboratory” for research and evaluation, using science to determine the best ways of promoting youth development. PRYDE has its own scholars program that helps undergraduate juniors and seniors to learn about how to develop and implement interventions that help young people.
Elmore’s goal as a faculty fellow is to reimagine the role of PRYDE Scholars as a bridge between research and 4-H community partners.
“For me, becoming a faculty fellow was ideal timing,” Elmore said. “PRYDE was looking to engage Cornell undergrads to find even better ways the program can serve 4-H. Now I get to have this experience of being in the room with other faculty members on campus who share similar goals. We can learn from each other’s experiences to improve what we’re doing.”
The Engaged Cornell Faculty Fellows is a year-long program. This year’s seventeen fellows in Engaged Learning meet each month to discuss readings and share their research projects, which all center around the theory and practice of developing partnerships and transformative learning.
Elmore says even though she is at the beginning of her fellowship year, she has already learned a lot in the fellowship program that she can apply to PRYDE. “Having someone guide us through the literature is really useful and creates opportunities to write or publish about the community-engaged work we’re doing,” she said. “I have had the opportunity to hear from a lot of smart people about how they would approach the questions that PRYDE is grappling with. And I get the benefit of working with the folks from Engaged Cornell, who think about these topics every day.”
Elmore has several improvements in mind for the PRYDE Scholars program. First, she is trying to incorporate new ways for 4-H youth to contribute to PRYDE research, not just as research subjects, but as active participants alongside PRYDE Scholars.
Next, she would like to create assignments for her PRYDE Scholars that result in materials that are useful to 4-H leaders.
“Instead of writing a paper, which a 4-H community partner may never read, we’re going to try making podcasts this year,” she said. “As an instructor, it’s really a fun opportunity to force yourself to think more creatively about your assignments that help to teach students, but also create a product that may be beneficial in the community.”