In loving memory of Dr. Penny Bernstein
March 30, 1947 - July 15, 2012
Campus Memorial Service
Friday, Sept. 28, 2012 at 3 p.m.
Campus Pond Gazebo
Her legacy will live on in the hearts of Kent State University at Stark students, faculty and staff, and her monumental contributions to the campus and community will not be forgotten. The vital work of the Herbert W. Hoover Initiative will continue, as a tribute to her life.
â€œWhen I learned about the idea for the Hoover Initiative more than four years ago, I could see what it was â€“ a framework with great potential to spur environmental change, but with lots of ideas, goals and expectations that had to be placed in the proper order,â€ she says.
Initially, she admits she wasnâ€™t sure who would embrace the concept of environmental media. However, she quickly discovered that many students were already using media to document ecology issues. They just didnâ€™t know what to do with their photos and videos. The â€œHoover Initiativeâ€ â€“ funded by a grant from the Herbert W. Hoover Foundation â€“ would become an outlet for them, as well as an opportunity to voice their concerns.
She notes, â€œWith the rise of environmental activism among students again, I knew this project would fill a need for area students and help them work in very tangible ways toward a common goal â€“ which is to preserve and protect our watersheds.â€
When Bernstein accepted the position as coordinator of the Hoover Initiative, one of her biggest expectations â€“ and subsequent challenges â€“ was to build a partnership between many groups that, on the surface, seemed disparate. Yet, the idea of an interdisciplinary effort excited her, and since 2008, she has been the driving catalyst behind this environmental consortium, forging bonds between individuals, businesses, corporations, nonprofits, government departments, county agencies, K-12 schools and groups of faculty members and students at Stark Countyâ€™s five colleges and universities. Currently, 14 organizations are involved, with more joining every year.
Thanks to funding from the Western Reserve Conservation and Resource Development Council, the Hoover Initiative now has two environmental stewardship liaisons that connect faculty, students and community partners. Bernstein says they play an important part in keeping everyone connected and overseeing smaller projects that students and partners work on together.
Tina Biasella, director of external affairs at Kent State Stark, describes Bernstein as a person of petite stature who makes big waves. As a result of her efforts to bring people together, every college and university in Stark County is collaborating to address local issues related to the environment.
â€œEfforts to improve the environment in general and our watersheds in particular are more widespread than we ever dreamed possible,â€ Biasella says. â€œHowever, few recognize all that Dr. Bernstein has done. She is so humble. Her work speaks for itself and demonstrates our strong commitment to making the community a better place to live, work and play.â€
A number of opportunities are underway for the Hoover Initiative, including a new grant for water sampling in select locations throughout Stark County. As part of this project, Dr. Bernsteinâ€™s vision is to create a database of statistics and content (images, videos, papers, etc.) that students across the consortium can update regularly. Water sampling began in spring 2012.
Ironically, Bernstein says the programâ€™s long-term sustainability may be the Hoover Initiativeâ€™s biggest challenge going forward. The program appeals to students and is making major strides in meeting its objectives, but several hurdles remain.
â€œStudents come to college expecting to be challenged, but they also want to leave with a degree,â€ Bernstein says. â€œWith every project the Hoover Initiative starts, we must ask the question, â€˜How will this fit into studentsâ€™ graduation requirements?â€™ To keep this wonderful effort alive, we must continue to find ways to make it work within the academic system.â€
Thatâ€™s another puzzle Bernstein is currently tackling. Students throughout Stark County who are passionate about clean water are cheering her on.
Timeline of Watershed Initiatives
With the support of the Herbert W. Hoover Foundation, Dr. Penny Bernstein and an impassioned team of faculty members and students from Kent State Stark, Malone University, Walsh University, Stark State College and University of Mount Union have made significant strides in raising awareness about threats to Stark Countyâ€™s watersheds while helping to protect and improve their condition.
The Hoover Initiative in Environmental Media, an alliance between Kent State Stark and the University of Miamiâ€™s (Florida) Arnold Center for Confluent Media Studies, is established. The partnership is intended to educate Stark County citizens and businesses on real-world solutions that will positively affect environmental change, promote clean-energy resources and provide new jobs â€“ ultimately leading to increased economic impact in our region.
Kent State Stark and the University of Miami receive a joint grant from the Herbert W. Hoover Foundation totaling $400,000.
The momentum continues:
Learn more about the Herbert W. Hoover Initiative in Environmental Media at OurWaterWebs.org.