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Outreach event focuses on partnerships
Expo and conference to highlight impact of community relationships, help build new ones

ATHENS, Ohio (April 11, 2007) -- Bob Culp isn't afraid of things that creep and crawl.

That's a good thing for the more than 3,000 students who hear presentations such as "The Wonderful World of Spiders" from Ohio University Southern Nature Center staff each year. Students from more than 60 schools have these hands-on learning opportunities thanks to a partnership between Culp, the center's director, and Wayne National Forest in Lawrence County, where the center is located.

To highlight this partnership and other wide-ranging community relationships, the Ohio University Office for University Outreach is sponsoring an expo and conference April 13 to 14.

"The event is going to be an inspiring glimpse of some of the hundreds of partnerships our six campuses have with communities," said Merle Graybill, director of University Outreach.

Graybill said she hopes faculty, staff, students and community members will attend the Outreach EXPO to explore existing partnerships and maybe even create new ones. The event will be held in the Baker University Center Ballroom from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, April 13.

More than 50 exhibitors will showcase their community relationships. They will include organizations such as Ohio University's Voinovich Center -- which has more than 200 students, staff and faculty engaged in the work of cleaning up watersheds and building sustainable businesses with entrepreneurs -- as well as researchers working on projects including diabetes awareness and education. Adding local color to the event will be Athens group Rattletrap Stringband, which calls itself a "blues, ragtime, hillbilly" band.

Graybill said Friday evening's keynote lecture will serve as a springboard to the second half of the event, a conference that will focus on outreach in Appalachian Ohio. "Grandmother of Appalachian Studies" Helen Lewis, past president of the national organization Appalachian Studies Association, will provide perspective on how Ohio University can build upon its partnerships and research in the region. The lecture will take place at 6 p.m. in the Baker University Center Theatre and will be preceded by a reception with the speaker and Ohio University Press at 5 p.m.

"Ohio University is the largest institution in Appalachian Ohio, thus we are called upon and able to contribute," Graybill said. "Ohio University is already very involved in the region. Through the conference we want to acknowledge that and begin to draw attention to strategic next steps."

Saturday's events, "A Celebration of Teaching, Research and Service in Appalachian Ohio," will include a panel on each of the three title topics. Panelists represent programs such as the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine's Community Health Programs (which last year screened nearly 3,000 children and adults for vision problems and illnesses) and CARE, a College of Education partnership that engages pre-service teachers with schools and communities.

Following the panels at 12:30 p.m. will be a brainstorming session about a potential Ohio University Appalachian studies program. Graybill said such a program would serve to tie together current faculty research and courses with new directions the university could take.

"The discipline of Appalachian Studies is missing a focus on the contemporary issues of northern Appalachia," Graybill said. "Ohio University is perfectly poised to take the lead in this scholarly area."

The conference will take place from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 14, in Baker University Center room 242. Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. The initial response deadline has passed, so if you are interested in attending, please contact the office at outreach@ohio.edu as soon as possible.

For more information and a schedule, visit www.outreach.ohio.edu/events.htm.

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Media Contact: Media Specialist George Mauzy, 740-597-1794 or mauzy@ohio.edu

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