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FREDONIA – Two organizations with strong environmental ties have been selected for the Community Partners Program, under which they will get help from public relations students and staff at Fredonia State College.

Chautauqua Rails to Trails and the Greystone Nature Preserve in Fredonia were selected to receive intense review of marketing, outreach and public relations materials for their organizations, the college announced Tuesday.

The two groups were selected from a field of 16 applications from Chautauqua County nonprofits, according to Dr. Virginia Horvath, president of the college. She said it was the largest pool of applicants ever received for the program.

“These programs demonstrate how Fredonia can be involved in the community,” Horvath said. 

Grace Gerass, a junior majoring in public relations, said she believes that the environment is very important to members of her generation. “Our generation cares a lot about the future of our environment,” she added.

Gerass will work on a team that will analyze and implement a marketing plan for the Chautauqua Rails to Trails program. 

Dr. Robert Berke, president and founder of Rails to Trails, said the organization hopes to attract more members and more people who will use the trails. The organization currently owns and maintains 26 miles of abandoned railroad beds in the county. The land is available for hikes, cross-country skiing and nature walks, Berke said. He is the former Chautauqua County health commissioner and is a family physician in Mayville.

Jeremy Woolson, chairman of the Greystone Nature Preserve, said he is excited to have the help and ideas from the students.

The 72-acre preserve, located at 8531 Bear Lake Road, Fredonia, offers educational programs, including  gardening, bird watching, outdoor classroom presentations and in-depth study of the preserve’s ecosystem. It was founded in 1998. 

Woolson said the organization’s goal is to bring more programs to the area and to publicize the  activities available.

Both organizations have met with the students and will now start intense work on plans and implementation for marketing and public relations over the next semester. The program is part of the curriculum for public relations majors at the college.