A joyful evening of connection and celebration in support of the mission and services provided by Healing Grace: Center for Hope and Healing was held at The Alice T. Miner Museum in Chazy on October 14. Healing Grace is a nonprofit organization based in Plattsburgh that provides support to families experiencing pregnancy and infant loss named in honor of Founder/Executive Director Sarah Munn Wojtaszek and her husband Keith Wojtaszek's infant daughter Grace.
The second annual event raised nearly $3,000 for Healing Grace. The nonprofit offers grief support, remembrance items, comfort boxes, miscarriage kits, and other services for North Country families going through the heartbreaking loss of a baby. Attendees enjoyed an evening of music with Taylor LaValley and explored the museum's rooms and collections. Refreshments were enjoyed and Munn Wojtaszek and John Bernardi, president and CEO of the United Way of the Adirondack Region, spoke of Healing Grace as a community-centered organization that meets a tremendous need in our region.
The Alice T. Miner Museum is a fitting location for this event as it helps to carry on the legacy of giving that William and Alice Miner created in the North Country, but also honors William H. Miner Jr. who was born on March 16, 1902 and sadly died two weeks later. The Miners had no other children, but the year following the death of their son, they came to Chazy and started building up Heart's Delight Farm and later the Chazy Central Rural School and Physicians Hospital.
We are so grateful for the generosity of several local businesses who helped support the Cultivating Hope event: Brown Funeral Home, Riley Ford, North Wind Primary Care, Ice House Farm Store, and Livations. Promotion for the event was done with the help of public relations students at SUNY Plattsburgh. A third annual event is being planned for October 2024 at the museum.
If you would like to make a donation to support Healing Grace, visit Healing Grace: Center For Hope and Healing | Finding hope in the face of loss (healinggraceph.org)
On September 23, we welcomed a group of 15 Master Teachers from the North Country region for a day-long continuing education event. They participated in several of the labs that we conduct as part of our high school chemistry program and then toured our dairy and equine barns and the Heart's Delight Farm Heritage Exhibit.
The New York State Master Teacher Program is a professional network of more than 1400 public school K-12 STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) teachers throughout the state. To become certified as a New York State master teacher, teachers must have at least four years of full-time teaching experience in a New York State public school and be rated effective or highly effective at an annual performance review. Applicants then go through a competitive application process.
Master teachers must commit to engage in a specified number of professional development activities annually for four years and receive a stipend on top of their school salary.
Master teachers from the North Country region came from Peru High School, Beekmantown High School, Indian River, Ogdensburg City School, South Jefferson, Brasher Falls, Parishville-Hopkinton, Ticonderoga, and Potsdam.
The program at Miner was organized through the Teacher Resource Center at SUNY Plattsburgh, an independent organization that assists teachers and faculty at 19 area school districts.
The enthusiasm for learning and teaching that these teachers displayed was energizing for us and we look forward to future collaborations with master teachers and the Teacher Resource Center.
Over a century ago, William Miner wrote that “agriculture is the fundamental occupation,” a statement that rings true today. Agriculture provides the foundation of the North Country’s economic and social infrastructure. This month we celebrate our region’s largest agricultural enterprise - dairy farming.
New York is the fifth largest milk producing state in the country and also the fifth largest producer of corn silage to feed the 630,000 dairy cows that call New York home. The value of milk produced in New York totals nearly 3 billion dollars, or about two-thirds of our state’s agricultural income. Even more astoundingly, about 10% of New York state’s total employment is linked, directly or indirectly, with the food sector.
New York state ranks first in the US in yogurt, cottage cheese, and sour cream production. So, when we enjoy a baked potato with sour cream, or yogurt for breakfast, we surely should be thanking a New York dairy farmer.
In our own backyard, three of the top-100 dairy counties in the country are in northern New York: St. Lawrence, Jefferson, and Lewis. Clinton County ranks 14th in New York state and 124th out of 1,892 counties in the US with significant dairy farming. According to the 2021 census, Clinton County had 78 dairy farms and nearly 17,000 cows.
A 2019 study by Cornell University estimated a strong economic multiplier, or ripple effect, through the state’s economy for the dairy sector of 2.7. This multiplier compares favorably with those of manufacturing, service, or retail. Other studies confirm that regions across the US with more dairy farms enjoy a healthier economy and a more congenial social fabric.
We celebrate June as Dairy Month and recognize that dairying underpins our state’s rural economy, provides healthy food locally produced, and contributes to our region’s growing agritourism focus. Though the dairy industry is buffeted by economic challenges, the fundamental strengths of our region endure: sufficient water, high-quality forage production, moderate climate, and a large northeastern dairy market.
William Miner believed that farming is fundamental. With that belief in mind, we celebrate the dairy industry that has been so fundamentally vital to the identity and success of the North Country.
-- Rick Grant
For the second consecutive year, Miner Institute teamed up with science departments at SUNY Plattsburgh and invited local middle and high school students to the Institute for a Science Saturday event on April 1. Students were able to interact with faculty and students from chemistry, physics, earth and environmental science, and biology. Staff and students from the North Country Planetarium on campus were also on site with some equipment and activities. The event provides students an opportunity to learn about careers in science and in particular what science programs are offered at SUNY Plattsburgh.
Around 20 students from area schools such as Beekmantown, Peru, Saranac, and Chazy attended the event. Dr. Meg Pearson, Dean of the School for Arts and Sciences at Plattsburgh welcomed the group and was on hand to answer questions participants had. Mallory Carpenter, an admissions advisor, was also at the event and talked with students about SUNY Plattsburgh, financial aid opportunities, and handed out cool Cardinal swag!
Students were also given the opportunity to head upstairs to the lab with Miner Institute Director of Lab Studies Steve Kramer and Dr. Ewa Pater, chair of the chemistry department at SUNY Plattsburgh to do some hands-on activities.
We are already looking forward to the third annual event in 2024!
Check out the Press Republican article on the event: https://www.pressrepublican.com/news/miner-institute-hosts-science-saturday/article_3b1988fe-d285-11ed-9cae-57e299828007.html
As has become a bit of a tradition, the Miner Institute dairy barn hosted a cow kissing event on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023. Alice is a 6-year-old registered Holstein in the Miner Institute dairy herd and is a veteran kisser -- this year marked her third cow kissing event!
This year, the event raised $6,200 for domestic violence services in our region. United Way of the Adirondacks President and CEO John Bernardi recognized this as a need in the region and the outpouring of support from the community is truly remarkable. The cow kissing total brought the 2023 United Way campaign tally to $665,000.
Miner Institute was pleased to host a group that included the United Way staff, members of their board and campaign team, and the cow kissers themselves for lunch after the event.
We look forward to this annual event and are humbled each year by the incredible generosity that exists in the North Country!
For the second year, Miner Institute was the host site for The Alice T. Miner Museum's popular ornament workshop on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022.
The museum hosted the event for several years pre-pandemic, but the event outgrew the museum space. In 2022, more than 70 people came out for some festive crafts, hot cocoa and treats.
Participants painted gnomes, tried their hand at origami, made pomanders -- a fragrant orange with cloves, and paper chains.
This event truly is a great way to kick off the holiday season.
by Sophia Griffiths
On October 14, Dr. Ken Adams came to SUNY Plattsburgh to give a talk on the history of the Applied Environmental Science Program at Miner Institute. I had the opportunity to talk to Dr. Adams one-on-one the day before about his time teaching at Miner as part of the AESP. It is so interesting how the history of Miner Institute programs with SUNY Plattsburgh students intersects with his life and career.
Adams got his undergraduate degree in biology from Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio. Upon graduating, he was immediately drafted into the air force during the Vietnam War. Adams had such interesting stories to tell me about his time stationed in Thailand. His unit even helped teach Thai people English for a short time. When he was brought back to the U.S., he was assigned to the Plattsburgh Air Force Base and started taking graduate courses at SUNY Plattsburgh while he finished the last two years of his assignment. He immediately took an interest in the collaboration between Miner Institute and SUNY Plattsburgh. In the early 1970s, the collaboration was known as Institute for Man and Environment (IME). Adams talked about the differences between IME and the current AESP program. IME was a 15-credit one semester residential program offered in the fall and spring. Students took a 9 credit Environmental Analysis class and a 6 credit Research Project. The Environmental Analysis course was interdisciplinary and according to Adams’ talk “the overarching framework for this course was to answer three basic questions: ‘Is the environmental project socially acceptable; is it economically feasible; and is it scientifically possible?’” For the research project, students had to submit a research proposal, conduct research and write a final report. They had access to a lot of natural resources on Miner property. Many students did work researching small watersheds by utilizing Corbeau Creek. In 1976 IME was modified into the Residential Research Semester. This program included several classes dedicated to each step of the research process.
During this time, the graduate student Ken Adams was advising undergraduate research projects and teaching courses in field biology. He loved working with students but knew if he wanted to continue teaching full time as a professor he would have to get a PhD. So in 1978, Adams left Plattsburgh to pursue his doctorate degree at SUNY ESF. And as fate would have it, once he finished his PhD, there was an opening for an ecology professor at SUNY Plattsburgh. Adams would go on to teach at Plattsburgh from 1982-2012.
The Man and Environment program and the Residential Research semester were much less structured than typical college courses. They were highly focused on individual research projects and required highly motivated, organized students. Some thrived in this setting, and some were not ready for this level of work. In 1982, Adams and some other professors created a new format for the collaboration with Miner. This is when the Applied Environmental Science Program was born. The full-day class format allows for intense focus on one subject each day. Students usually attend lectures in the morning then do field work for the rest of the day. This gives them a chance to see and understand the theory they learned in the classroom in real life. The AESP offers students choice in which courses to take and provides more structure, which students are more familiar with.
I loved talking to Dr. Adams because he is so enthusiastic about Miner and what it has to offer Plattsburgh students. When I asked him the value of AESP for students he said “I think it’s important for students to do something special while they’re undergraduates”. This program is so unique and offers something that you can’t get at the thousands of other environmental science programs across the country. If students are interested and inclined to do research, Miner gives them the opportunity to do so. Students can get real research experience that not only looks good on a resume but gives them the skill to succeed in an environmental science related field.
October 15 is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day and so a very fitting date to host a fundraiser for an organization that supports families who have suffered the death of an infant during pregnancy and within the first year of life. Cultivating Hope: A Fundraiser to Benefit Healing Grace was held at The Alice T. Miner Museum on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022. The event brought in $1550 for Healing Grace. It was the start of what we hope will be a lasting partnership.
On March 16, 1902, Alice and William Miner welcomed a long-awaited child. Sadly, William Henry Miner Jr. died two weeks later. The partnership between The Alice T. Miner Museum, Miner Institute, and Healing Grace Center for Hope & Healing is so meaningful. Healing Grace's mission is to provide support, guidance, love, and community to families that have suffered the death of an infant at any stage of pregnancy and within the first year of life. Healing Grace helps families to cultivate hope and provides support for the healing journey after loss with services such as professional and peer support, birth planning, funeral planning support, comfort boxes and other products to support maternal grief. Alice Miner undoubtedly had no access to services similar to those offered by Healing Grace. It seems so fitting that Alice Miner's beloved museum host a fundraising event for an organization that would have meant so much to the Miners and fits so well into their legacy of improving life and building community in the North Country.
Sarah Munn Wojtaszek is the founder and executive director of Healing Grace. Her motivation is deeply personal. In 2008, during her 20-week ultrasound for her first child, she and her husband learned that their baby had anencephaly, a fatal neural tube defect. Following this devastating news, Sarah and her husband Keith were put in touch with a perinatal hospice group in Kansas City where they were living that helped guide them through their grief. After returning to the North Country in 2010, they were shocked to learn that there were no organizations in the North Country to support families of infant loss. Sarah founded Healing Grace in 2020 and is making a tremendous impact for North Country families.
To learn more about Healing Grace or to make a donation, visit healinggraceph.org
An August 2020 open house that was planned was sidelined due to the pandemic, but two years later on Aug. 6, we welcomed around 700 people to the Institute! The day was hot and humid, but otherwise picture perfect. Visitors were able to tour our facilities; learn about William and Alice Miner and Heart's Delight Farm history; take a wagon ride around the property; enjoy a variety of dairy products including maple ice cream, Cabot cheese, and local milk from Hidden Acres Dairy; interact with our Morgan horses and watch an equine demonstration; learn about our dairy and research programs at various interactive stations around the farm; and our youngest visitors were able to take a short ride around the farm on a cow train! An event of this magnitude takes a lot of planning and organizing ahead of time and loads of volunteers day of to carry out. The Miner team excelled in every way! On Open house day, we had dozens of staff and students all in matching red shirts who were demonstrating, driving, interacting, and educating in some way. The back of the t-shirts had William Miner's quote from 1915, "No other occupation is so vitally important to the human race, nor requires such a wide range of practical and technical knowledge, as farming."
We are so grateful for everyone who came out to visit, and grateful to the local businesses who helped us to carry out such a tremendous event -- Harvest Maple; UDDER DELIGHT DAIRY SHOP; Samples Lawn & Garden LLC; Taylor Rental Plattsburgh; United Ag & Turf; Dragoon's Farm Equipment; Cabot Creamery Co-operative; and Hidden Acres Dairy LLC. Tammy's Lunch Box and The DogFather food trucks were on site and cooking up delicious food for purchase.
We will look forward to another event of this magnitude in a couple years, but stay tuned for plenty of great smaller events in the meantime!
For the second year in a row, we enjoyed the music of the Strawhatters Concert Band on the lawn behind the Farm Office on a gorgeous summer evening.
The Strawhatters are a community band that was started in the 1940s. Members are from all across Clinton County and some from just across the border in Canada as well. There are currently about 50 members of the group, though we had just over 40 members at the July 27 performance at Miner Institute. The youngest members of the group are heading into ninth grade in high school and the oldest members are nearing 80!
We had more than 85 people who came out to enjoy the music and the ambiance was wonderful! We sure hope that we can continue this fun event in future years.