Wooster and Holmes groups get solutions from College of Wooster students


WOOSTER After a distance learning program last summer, students in the Applied Methods and Research Experience program at Wooster College were able to present their research in person this summer with results that offer solutions for some local organizations.

The eight-week summer research program “provides consultancy services to businesses, the public sector and non-profit organizations,” according to the program’s 2020 annual report.

John Ramsay, professor emeritus at the College of Wooster and now co-director of AMRE, started the program 28 years ago with six students and two clients. Ramsay hoped to teach math and computer students how to apply these skills in real-life situations, said Vikki Briggs, AMRE program co-director.

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“This is the ultimate community engagement,” Ramsay said. “We work with businesses and non-profit organizations, [it] really provides a context for this stuff.

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Over 400 students have participated in the program with around 185 projects completed since its inception, some students from Ashesi University, a private non-profit university in Ghana.

Hephzibah Emereole is a senior at Ashei University in Ghana studying computer science.  She participated virtually in this year's AMRE program, although she would have preferred to be in College of Wooster.

Having grown in recent years, around 30 students are chosen to participate each summer and typically work in teams of two to four students, researching topics for a variety of business clients.

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“Some years we have a lot of community projects that maybe have overlapping interests, or people who are interested in a lot of them,” Briggs said. “We had one a few years ago that… addressed issues like the benefits class, low income housing and homelessness in Wayne County, as well as a workforce project. for Wayne County.

This year, students completed 12 projects with 11 different companies and organizations in Ohio and even overseas, with the program’s first projects being based in Ghana. Some of these clients included large companies like ACME Fresh Market and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Some groups worked with local organizations to look at the issues they were having.

Project 2021: Help dog owners comply with licensing requirements

One project, led by seniors Sarah Brunot and Katherine Yordy, looked at public opinions on licensing their dogs in Wayne and Holmes counties and ways to increase the number of dogs allowed.

Brunot and Yordy discovered that owners of unlicensed dogs may not have one for a variety of reasons. For example, some first-time dog owners were unaware that a license is required because their dog has a microchip. Others thought that a license would cost too much or that it would take too long to obtain a license.

David McConnell (left to right), Sarah Brunot, Katherine Yordy and Rob Razzante on the College of Wooster campus.  McConnell and Razzante worked alongside Brunot and Yordy as educational advisors for their AMRE research on canine licensing.

“A lot of dog owners don’t know that if their dog is found on the run without an ID tag and is picked up and taken to the dog shelter, the dog can be adopted within 48 hours,” Brunot said. “… and [if] they don’t want their dog adopted under them, it might be a good idea for them to allow their dog.

To help resolve issues and increase permits among dogs in both counties, Brunot and Yordy suggested ways to reach out to the public, local partnerships, and extend the time to get a permit from December to March.

Brunot and Yordy have offered virtual or online outreach options, such as Facebook ads and email campaigns, as well as physical or print options such as posters, billboards, door knockers and advertisements in print publications. Other forms of outreach they offered included partnerships with organizations such as the Holmes County Bookmobile, local Boy Scout and Boy Scout Troops, and Wooster College.

By offering options, Yordy and Brunot hope that organizations in both counties can examine how people find out about licensing and determine which options work best for them and their community.

Sarah Brunot and Katherine Yordy present their research project on canine licensing in Wayne and Holmes counties.  Brunot and Yordy are both seniors at Wooster College and completed this research as part of the colleges AMRE program.

Tourism in Holmes County

Another project focused on what tourism looks like in Holmes County and on visitors.

Three students worked on the project: Mahi Lal senior from Wooster College and Caitlyn Denes junior, and Hephzibah Emereole senior, who attended Ashesi University virtually.

“Our first challenge was to understand how people define tourism and what a tourist is,” Lal said. “… We have defined tourism, or what we think tourism should be defined as, as anyone who spends money in Holmes County [who is] from outside Holmes County.

They also studied accommodation expenses and business sales to determine the revenue the county generates from tourism.

The group compared their findings to a county with similar demographics in Pennsylvania, however, they determined that more research was needed.

“This project is just a starting point, but it lays the foundation for the direct impact of tourism,” Lal said. “And then anybody could take that study and then get these different technologies … that specifically study tourism and get the overall and real effect of tourism.”

Increased connection between college and town of Wooster

A third group of students focused on the link between Wooster College and the city and suggested ways for local organizations to strengthen it through student groups and internships.

College seniors Spencer Gaitsch and Audrey Holder examined the disconnection and found that it was due, in part, to an outdated website and lack of centralized information.

“There isn’t a single webpage or person on campus that a student or anyone else could go to to find all the information… needed to get involved,” Gaitsch said. “Further, the online information provided by the College of Wooster web page is insufficient for the role it should play.”

Spencer Gaitsch (left) and Audrey Holder (right) stand in front of signs related to a research project they have been working on.  Gaitsch and Holder are both seniors in College or Wooster and have completed a summer research project on College-City of Wooster links.

Gaitsch and Holder proposed creating a new website for student groups and adding a position that would oversee service and civic engagement organizations.

The website is already underway, Gaitsch said. Both on and off campus groups could benefit from a “point of contact” that students, faculty and community members could turn to for information.

Gaitsch and Holder also suggested internships for students through community organizations.

Holder and Gaitsch spoke to several groups and found seven people interested in participating, including the Wayne Center for the Arts, the Viola Startzman Clinic, the Immigrant Worker Project and United Way.

To remember projects

Although rigorous, the AMRE project was a learning experience for the students.

“One of the things we learned is that it’s incredibly interesting and we really enjoyed our time working at AMRE,” said Gaitsch. “… These are lifelong skills, well beyond the final year, that will be useful to us elsewhere. ”

“It was very rewarding for all of us, and I hope our findings are reason enough for Holmes County to continue to study this further,” said Denes.

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