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b2ap3_thumbnail_5-21-Narasimhan-2_20150522-144111_1.jpgThis internship keeps getting cooler. Today, we had a troop of wild howlers hanging around the sanctuary, and our babies actually got into the trees and interacted with them! We call this troop R2D2, and all of their names have something to do with Star Wars. The dominant male’s name is Yoda, and the other male is Vader. 

It’s interesting because no matter where a howler troop is, you will almost always find the dominant male in the center of the group. Stevie, our blind howler, was playing with Mace, a baby in the troop. It was adorable. Rugby is still a little shy with other howlers, but she is getting there. Watching the wild howlers and capuchins is unlike anything I have ever seen. It’s one thing to see them in photographs and to learn about their behavior in a textbook, but nothing compares to seeing it in person. I really enjoy just sitting peacefully and watching. 

Another cool thing we are doing is documenting howler behavior. The species has been neglected in this area, and so the research we are doing is extremely important. Every day we do several behavioral follows, either focusing on one baby or both. For about forty-five minutes, we document their every behavior, which can be anything from a vocalization to foraging. This is called an ethogram, and it takes a while to get the hang of. We are also identifying all of the individuals in each troop to try to get a population count. As of right now, it is not known how many howlers live in Panama, further adding to the importance of our research.

My favorite part of the internship so far has been interacting with the monkeys. The babies are frustrating at times, and it sometimes feels like babysitting spoiled toddlers. We try to keep them in the trees and off the ground as much as possible, to mimic a normal upbringing and get them used to a typical howler lifestyle (wild howlers spend almost no time on the ground). Sometimes, however, the babies do not want to get into a tree and just want to cuddle. Sometimes they will bite and run away, resulting in a wild monkey chase. However, watching them in the trees and playing with them is so rewarding, and they have the ability to make anyone’s heart melt, no matter how hard they bite.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Jenny-Schouppe.jpgJennifer Schouppe, a junior communication major with a focus in journalism and electronic media from Beaver, Pa., was recently named the winner of the 2015 Teresa Spatara Memorial Scholarship. 

The Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association (PWPA) offers the Teresa Spatara Memorial Scholarship to current junior, senior and graduate students pursuing a career in print journalism. The scholarship is named in honor of Teresa Spatara, a career journalist with The Herald in Sharon, Pa., who passed away in 2013. 

“I’m very honored to receive this scholarship,” said Schouppe. “I’m thankful for my professors who bring their real-world experiences from the field into the classroom. Their teachings and advice definitely had a part in helping me to achieve this accomplishment.” 

Schouppe, Waynesburg University’s first recipient of the scholarship, met all of the scholarship requirements including proven journalistic ability, dedication to a newspaper career and general merit. 

Schouppe recently received the position as the chief photographer for Waynesburg University’s award-winning student news publication, the Yellow Jacket. She is the programming director for Waynesburg University’s Society of Professional Journalists student chapter and an intern at McMillen Photography. 

“Winning the PWPA scholarship is a wonderful recognition of Jenny’s hard work both in her journalism classes and with the student newspaper,” said Brandon Szuminsky, instructor of communication and co-advisor for the Yellow Jacket. “As she heads into her senior year, we feel strongly that Jenny is going to be an integral part of the Yellow Jacket next year, and it’s good to see the PWPA shares our high opinion of her.”

Schouppe’s scholarship will wrap up an award-filled semester for Waynesburg University’s journalism program.

“Jenny’s scholarship is a wonderful capper to a great semester for the journalism program at Waynesburg University that saw the newspaper staff win six state and regional awards,” said Szuminsky. “It’s a great confirmation that a student can have both the myriad of benefits of a small-school education and still have great opportunities to grow as young journalists.” 

Schouppe was awarded $1,500. She will attend the PWPA luncheon on May 30 in Gettysburg to give a brief acceptance speech.

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Ashley Wise, Senior Writer/Editor
724.852.7675 or awise@waynesburg.edu

Tagged in: communication news
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Posted by on in Blog

b2ap3_thumbnail_5-19-Narasimhan-1.jpgI’ve been at the sanctuary for a few days now, and I am already immersed in the several projects going on here. I am learning so much. While the babies are adorable and fun to play with, I am falling in love with the capuchins. 

Their intelligence is so obvious when you spend even a small amount of time with them. Every time I enter their enclosure, they embrace me quickly and then search my pockets for hidden almonds I may have brought for them. After that, we settle down for a grooming session. I usually groom Angie while Ace sits on my shoulder and grooms me. It is easy to forget, however, that these are wild animals and not pets.

I’ve been trained in how to read their body language and facial expressions. For example, when upset, caps will bare their teeth in a way that almost looks like they are smiling. This is similar to their play face, so when working with them, you have to always be aware of how they are feeling and behaving.

Because they have to live in an enclosure while they are being rehabilitated, it is easy for these intelligent creatures to become bored. We try to provide as much enrichment for them as possible, and part of everyday is dedicated to that. We often rearrange their enclosure, so branches are in different positions than they were before and new ones are added. We also hide their food in interesting places and design fun toys for them. Some favorites of theirs are colored paper or egg cartons with yummy peanut butter.

We also have to watch for stereotypic behaviors they might exhibit. These are behaviors that are common in animals in captivity, and are usually a sign of distress or boredom. Lately Ace has been doing a quick head roll, almost like a twitch. This is a common behavior in capuchins in captivity, but it isn’t clear what it means or how to prevent it.

Another cool thing with capuchins is their territorial behavior. When trying to ward off enemies or demonstrating dominance, caps will break and shake branches. It’s actually quite terrifying to be on the receiving end of one of these encounters. We try to keep the wild caps away from the ones in our care, as they take their food and make Angie nervous, so part of the job is breaking and shaking branches at them in return. I’ve had a couple showdowns with some wild caps, and they are extremely intimidating.

I’m learning so much about animal behavior and husbandry, and loving every second of it!

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_5-15Ohio-Honors_Payne-Wissler.jpgWaynesburg University has selected Payne Wissler of Chillicothe, Ohio, as the recipient of the Jeffrey and Regina Taussig Ohio Honors Scholarship. 

The prestigious award is given to one Ohio high school student interested in a career in mathematics or one of the sciences, and pays the complete tuition, room and board for the student’s four years at Waynesburg University. Through this scholarship, more than $120,000 is awarded to each recipient over the course of his or her four years at Waynesburg.

In addition to being an Ohio resident, recipients must display extraordinary academic, service and leadership skills. The recipient must also major in one of the areas of math or science.

Wissler demonstrates the ways in which he parallels the University’s commitment to faith, learning and service through his involvement with a number of extra-curricular and volunteer activities including Fellowship of Christian Students; national honor society; orchestra; student council; athletics; 4-H; Young Life; and tutoring and mentoring students in high-risk, low-income neighborhoods, among many others. In addition, Wissler holds a 4.267 GPA, which includes a number of honors courses. 

An active member of Walnut Street United Methodist Church for more than 10 years and a Sunday school teacher and Vacation Bible School leader for more than six years, Wissler has proven his natural gift of leadership, his commitment to his faith and the importance he places as serving as a positive role model.

“He is loved by children, respected by adults, and looked up to by his peers,” said Lori Lossie, Lead Pastor at Walnut Street United Methodist Church.

For Wissler, being selected as the recipient has changed the way he views his undergraduate education, he said.

“Because the scholarship covers both room and board, I will be able to focus on advancing my education, my faith and my service to the community without many of the burdens that college students typically face,” he said.

Wissler calls the scholarship an “enormous blessing” and is inspired by donors Jeffrey and Regina Taussig.

“Their generosity is life changing and their belief in Waynesburg University is one of the many reasons I chose Waynesburg University,” he said. “I hope to one day be able to set up a scholarship for a student as a legacy like the Taussigs were generous enough to do for me and many others. The words ‘thank you’ cannot completely capture the gratitude I wish to express to the Taussigs, but through my hard work and dedication while at Waynesburg I will strive to honor their generous blessing.”

Wissler credits the university’s “state of the art science facilities, acclaimed faculty and staff, and authentic and friendly students,” as additional reasons for his choice and confidence in Waynesburg.

“I am so excited to begin this next chapter of life at Waynesburg University,” Wissler said. I look forward to spending the next four years diving into all that Waynesburg University has to offer.”

Upon graduation, Wissler plans to pursue a career in dentistry.

Wissler is the son of Eric and Vicki Wissler. 

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Ashley Wise, Senior Writer/Editor

724.852.7675 or awise@waynesburg.edu

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During the spring semester, a Waynesburg University education student designed and implemented a hands-on, educational program for a local preschool class as a service project, providing students with an out-of-the-box learning experience. 

Abigail Standley, sophomore early childhood education major from Gahanna, Ohio, combined a former graduate student’s memorial and the support of the Department of Education to create a sustainable program for children in the Community Action Southwest preschool program at Jefferson-Morgan Elementary School. 

Standley designed and presented a supplemental gardening unit for her preschool classroom, during which the students planted flower seeds and took a field trip to a nearby greenhouse, where they learned about gardening and growing plants.

The project began with a conversation between Standley and Pam Abbe, tutor coordinator and director of the Knox Learning Center at Waynesburg. Abbe’s daughter, Leah Abbe Zwerver, passed away June 14, 2008, after completing graduate studies at the University. Abbe developed a fund in her daughter’s memory with the goal of providing support to Waynesburg University Student Services for one-on-one cultural and environmental experiences between University students and public school students.

Standley decided to honor the goals of this memorial fund with her service learning project at the preschool. She worked closely with Debra Clarke, chair of the Department of Education and assistant professor of education, to develop and carry out the idea. Clarke attests that the process, in addition to working toward an admirable cause, helped Standley grow immensely as a student and servant.

All education majors at the University receive field placements each semester in a local classroom, where they are expected to assist the classroom teacher and complete tasks assigned by the teacher. 

“The project was intended to provide a special experience for the children at the field placement and to honor the memory of a former Waynesburg University student and local community member,” said Clarke. “Many, many hours of service were dedicated to the project planning and implementation. Standley learned a lot as she worked on the special service project.”

While field placements for sophomore level education students only require 12 weeks of twice a week, two-hour sessions in their assigned classroom, Standley plans to continue her service project for the duration of her time at the University.

“My entire goal of this project for this semester was to start out small and grow big by the time I graduate in 2017,” said Standley. “My ultimate goal is to have this be a permanent service project on campus in which all University students can participate. This would consist of University students going into local school districts to give them out-of-the-box opportunities within their educational experience.”

According to Clarke, Standley has exemplified the goals of the Department of Education, which aims to reflect the University’s mission of faith, learning and service in all activities.

“The Department of Education’s mission is to prepare teachers who embrace learning and dedicate themselves to service and leadership in the profession,” said Clarke. “Standley certainly embraced learning and developed quality leadership skills as she dedicated her efforts to the service activity."

As Standley continues to strengthen the relationship between the University and local schools, Clarke foresees the benefits of the initiative both for Standley’s future and for the future of the Department of Education.

“Standley learned to persevere, to be flexible, and to be open to the ideas of others. Overall, she acquired numerous planning and preparation skills that she will use as she completes her final two years of study in the Department of Education and prepares to move into her own classroom,” said Clarke. “Her project will serve as a role model for future students as they work to maximize the learning and service opportunities provided through the Department of Education's field experience requirements.”

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Ashley Wise, Senior Writer/Editor
724.852.7675 or awise@waynesburg.edu

Tagged in: education news
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