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Letters from the Field

International Heritage Preservation at CyArk​
Kacey Hadick ​(B.S., Anthropology and Geography, 2013)

Kacey Hadick

I was in Washington, D.C. in August for the centennial celebration of the National Park Service. We presented a few of our virtual reality environments of national parks.

After graduating from Cal Poly, I completed a master's degree in heritage management in Italy. When I returned to California, I searched for companies that were involved in cultural heritage with an international focus. After hearing about CyArk from a colleague who was familiar with their work in Iraq and Syria, I knew I had to apply for a position. Unfortunately, at the time CyArk wasn’t hiring, but I was persistent and decided to complete an unpaid internship in their Oakland, Calif., office. I worked hard to learn everything I could during the internship and the organization decided to hire me full time a few months later. 

CyArk is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to create a digital archive of the world’s heritage sites for preservation and education. Data is collected through laser scanning, digital modeling, drones and terrestrial photogrammetry, as well as other state-of-the-art technologies. CyArk’s founder, Ben Kacyra, stated during his speech at the 2011 TED Conference that the organization was created in response to increasing human and natural threats to heritage sites, and to ensure the “collective human memory” is not lost. The organization is known for its work with a number of partners in producing high-quality digital scanning of World Heritage Sites, such as Angkor Wat, Pompeii, Chichen Itza, the Eastern Qing tombs, Nineveh, Mount Rushmore, and many others. CyArk has worked at over 200 sites on all seven continents and is now taking the data captured and creating virtual reality experiences to bring into K-12 schools, to create interactive learning environments. 

Applied Nutritional Anthropology at Palo Alto Medical Foundation
​Ashley Becker (B.S., Anthropology and Geography, 2016)

Ashley Becker

I had a paid internship this summer with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (right across the street from Stanford). The foundation has been piloting a youth nutrition program called 5210 in all public elementary schools within the Sunnyvale School District, as well as a few elementary schools in the Santa Cruz area for the past few years. The goal of the program is to get fifth graders excited about making healthy choices. This is done through lunchroom tastings, school-wide poster and jump-rope competitions, and health education classes that focus on advising students to adhere to four main guidelines: aim to eat five fruits and vegetables daily, limit recreational screen time to two hours per day, participate in one hour of physical activity daily, and try to consume zero sugary beverages each day by opting for water instead – hence the name 5210.

Lately, the foundation has been looking to expand 5210 into other school districts and increase the frequency of behavioral changes made by the program. My role was to analyze the 2015-16 school year data and create individual school reports based on pre- and post-tests given to students.) It was apparent that health knowledge increased substantially, but behavior was relatively stagnant. In order to combat this, program developers wanted to focus more on how nutrition can be integrated into the students’ daily lives rather than why good nutrition is important. The Palo Alto Medical Foundation employees decided to get an anthropologist in on their human-centered design project.

I conducted 20 ethnographic interviews with low-income families who either have children currently in elementary schools with the 5210 program, or with children who have the potential to attend these schools in the future. Due to the demographics, multiple interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish. These interviews were then analyzed to extrapolate themes and produce potential changes to the program. Talking to parents about what kinds of things are going on at home, what factors influence their food choices, and how high of a priority nutrition is to them, we were able to figure out what kinds of information these families truly want and need to hear, rather than just blindly guessing. Using the interview results, we have been able to look at what similar programs have done to positively influence their students’ health behavior.

This project was an amazing experience for me! Being able to discuss one of my passions with a wide variety of individuals was really exciting! Everyday I learned more and became aware of new perspectives. It was an incredible way to use my anthropology skills, including project design, data collection/analysis, and ethnographic interviewing in a medical environment. I am hopeful that my excitement will transfer to the children going through the program as they learn to use new skills, gain confidence in themselves, and become excited to try healthy foods.

Overall I am really happy with the project and am thinking about extending my time with the foundation to learn more about the education side of health education. 

Improving Educational Opportunities with AmeriCorps​
Taylor Haight (B.S., Anthropology and Geography, 2015)

Taylor Haight

I'm currently a corps member with the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), a branch of AmeriCorps. Since Oct. 7 I have served with a team of ten 18- to 24-year-olds doing long-term community service projects throughout the United States. My team serves the Southwest Region and is based in Denver. I'm currently working with the Mayor's Office of the City of St. Louis, taking in-depth surveys of the city as part of their long-term revitalization plan. I’ve also renovated volunteer housing and worked at a Boys and Girls Club in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, and delivered in-class nutrition lessons to low-income elementary school students in Little Rock, Arkansas. I look forward to coming back to California to pursue a teaching credential. 

Global Business at ESRI
Nina Farentinos (B.S., Anthropology and Geography, 2016)

Nina Farentinos

I am now an account manager in the Global Business Department at Environmental Systems Research Institute. I'm really new so I still don’t have a complete grasp on my duties here, but I am basically a consultant for existing accounts in the midrange commercial sector (companies grossing $1.4 million to $4 billion annually). My job is to make sure they have the software and training they need to successfully use spatial data. I work in conjunction with solution engineers who are experts in geographic information systems (GIS), so I do more of the “translation” from GIS lingo into language that business representatives can understand and use. So far, I’ve been amazed at the efficiency and camaraderie here at ESRI, and I am so excited to jump into my responsibilities and gain more experience in the field! 

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