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Expo showcases partnerships
Poster session demonstrates tradition of community outreach

ATHENS, Ohio (April 18, 2007) -- More than 40 organizations and research projects dedicated to learning, research and service in the community were represented at the first annual Outreach EXPO last Friday.

Photos by Rick FaticaTo see them all in one room, it was clear that partnerships between the university and community members run deep and that there's an opportunity to build on those partnerships.

Leslie Moss, executive director of Kids on Campus, which provides out-of-school educational programming for low-income and at-risk children, took time out from manning her group's station to tour the room. Exhibitors lined half of the Baker University Center Ballroom with posters, pictures and slideshow presentations detailing their work. 

"I wasn't necessarily aware of all of these projects," Moss said. "Kids on Campus is always looking to partner with other groups."

Like Moss, Astronomy Research Assistant Professor Mangala Sharma was hoping to use the event to make connections. Sharma attended the event to promote Space Days, a NASA-funded project that teaches astronomy to children at the Athens Public Library. Sitting in front of a colorful, picture-filled poster, she explained that the program uses tools such as a scale model of Mars, astronaut food and a space suit to get kids interested in science. 

"The kids love it. We're finding the kids already know a lot -- and it's inspiring," she said. "I'm looking to continue this program and do things with the community."

Some of the other collaborative projects represented included African Business Outreach, a program that encourages businesses to consider ventures in Africa; Youths Experiencing School Success, an organization that brings mental health services to children in local schools that don't provide access to such care; and Ohio University Press, which has published many books about the Appalachian region.

For Director of University Outreach Merle Graybill, the event, sponsored by her office and intended to not only show off existing partnerships but also to help build new ones, was a step in the right direction. 

"We were particularly pleased to invite faculty staff and students from Ohio's Regional Campuses to share their work," Graybill said. "Regional outreach partnerships included the OU Chillicothe Nursing Outreach Program with Berger Health Systems, OU Southern Nature Center with programs for kids and adults alike, and the school-focused work of OU Zanesville early childhood Jump Start, and OU Southern Teacher Professional Development."

For more information about the Office for University Outreach, visit www.outreach.ohio.edu.

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Written by: Elizabeth Boyle

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

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