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Hudson Valley And YouthBuild Team Up

CONTACT: Jeff Foley (518) 629-8085

FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Thursday, August 1, 2002

A group of YouthBuild Albany students are putting the finishing touches on a 10-foot by 12-foot shelter that they have spent the last month constructing with Hudson Valley Community College adjunct instructor Mark Miller. The shelter, which will be completed within the next week, will house a fennec fox at West Sand Lake's Our Favorite Place – Animal Kingdom.

YouthBuild Albany is an alternative school that aims to help low-income, at-risk youth. The YouthBuild participants take GED classes, rehabilitate Albany buildings and attend classes at Hudson Valley. Building the fox shelter has helped the students learn to operate hand tools, which will prove particularly handy because many YouthBuild graduates enter the construction field. In fact, many enroll in Hudson Valley's two-year Construction Technology or Construction Certificate programs.

"I'm a firm believer that if you place young adults in a situation where they may succeed, they usually won't disappoint you," said Joe Sarubbi, department chairperson for Hudson Valley's Building Technologies department. "Our relationship with YouthBuild – and this shelter in particular – is a good example of that. These students are demonstrating that they can succeed. And with the construction industry in dire need of skilled labor, graduates of YouthBuild and Hudson Valley Community College are bound to have a positive impact."

\"ImageThe YouthBuild students – Shante Batances, John Garcia and James Bass – are building the fox shelter as part of two credit-bearing Hudson Valley classes: Principles and Practices of Light Construction; and Construction Laboratory. Previously, YouthBuild students constructed a turtle den that also was donated to Our Favorite Place – Animal Kingdom.

"We're so fortunate to have this group come in," said Ben Petrone, co-owner of Our Favorite Place – Animal Kingdom, which caters to mentally and physically challenged individuals, allowing them to view a wide array of animals free of charge. "We're a not-for-profit organization, and if these students weren't building the shelter, I could never have completed it this year. The critter that they're building it for would have had to have stayed in a barn for another year."

"These students are doing something very positive for the community," said Hudson Valley's Miller. "Plus they're getting college experience. And you can't beat the hands-on aspect of this job. You can't learn what they're doing from a book. You have to do it."

Batances, Garcia and Bass are prime examples of how effective the partnership between Hudson Valley and YouthBuild has been. Through the partnership, all three have earned a GED and advanced to credit-bearing classes.

In fact, the Albany Community Landtrust recently hired Batances, and she plans to continue taking construction classes at Hudson Valley in the fall. Garcia will be attending Hudson Valley in the fall and he will work an internship at Hudson River Industries, and Bass plans to become a full-time Business Administration student at Hudson Valley in the fall.

"The relationship with Hudson Valley has worked out well for us," said John Holmberg, a YouthBuild program director. "It gives our students bona fide vocational training with instructors who have real-world experience and know what they're doing. And a bigger benefit is that the training is linked with a college. Many of our students did not consider college before, but this experience has them thinking about the bigger picture at Hudson Valley Community College."

Hudson Valley Community College offers more than 50 degree and certification programs in four academic divisions: Liberal Arts and Sciences; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Sciences; and Business; as well as programs run through the Educational Opportunity Center offering certification programs in workforce and academic preparation. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, it has an enrollment of more than 10,000 students each year, and is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and worker retraining.