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Pace Academy Mock Hearing

News Story

Students step into the role of “expert witnesses” in a joint hearing of the New York State Assembly Standing Committees on Environmental Conservation and Agriculture.

Written by Pace Academy

On April 25, Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies’ second Mock Environmental Hearing, “Building a New York Dairy Industry that is Economically, Environmentally, and Ethically Sound,” convened another impressive group of Pace students, addressing real-world issues across the disciplines at the NYS Judicial Institute at Pace Law School.

Thirty-two students (23 undergraduates, 1 graduate student, 8 Law School students) and six faculty advisers participated in this year’s mock hearing program. With the guidance of Pace Academy staff, students prepared and presented testimony before a distinguished group of professionals that included the Dean of Pace Law School, a sitting NYS Court of Claims judge, a former NYS assemblyman, two attorneys, and Pace’s NYC political science chair and professor.

In a mock Joint Hearing of the NY State Assembly Standing Committees on Environmental Conservation and Agriculture, students represented multiple stakeholders when scrutinizing current regulations and made policy recommendations to ensure humane treatment of animals, affordable and healthy products, vibrant farming communities, and the protection and enhancement of the natural environment and economy of the State.

Upon entering the Judicial Institute early morning on April 25, everyone assumed their roles–as assemblypersons and advocates. Students-turned-lobbyists were ready to apply a semester’s worth of research, interviews, meetings, writing, editing, and rehearsals. Once the gavel fell, the Mock Hearing was underway and the students had to make their case to the legislators. Not only did they need to present their testimony, they had to hold steady during rigorous questioning by the Assembly members. Every advocacy group had a different answer as to how to support the expansion of the dairy industry the “right way.” Students addressed critical issues such as handling the whey byproduct of Greek yogurt processing, the humane treatment of farm animals, training farm workers in workplace safety, adjusting milk-pricing rules, and keeping Greek yogurt companies fully supplied by smaller, more sustainable farms.

Every student deserves recognition for how well they handled the pressure of the day. Taking home the title of Best Testimony and gift certificates to eco-conscious café–Local–was the environmental advocacy group, "Naturalists Opposing Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations" (NO-CAFOs). Advised by Biology Professor Charlene Hoegler, PhD, and counseled by Pace Law student Patrick Carroll (2L), the team was: Jessica Alba, Ryan Ali, Jaclyn Barbato, George Garcia, Anthony Jones, Haylei Peart, Elizabeth Piper Phillips, and Jessica Sanchez.

Best Oralist was awarded to biochemistry and English double-major Sania Azhar from the animal welfare team “New Yorkers for the Ethical Treatment of Cows.”  Sania made a passionate and well-reasoned case for treating cows with respect and dignity. Criminal justice major Mackenzie Ferguson received Honorable Mention for her incredible poise during her business-focused testimony on behalf of “Telios Greek Yogurt.”

The mock assembly included outstanding professionals:

  • Hon. Glen T. Bruening (Environmental Conservation Committee Chair), Judge of the New York State Court of Claims and Former NYS Assistant Counsel to the Governor
  • Karen L. Doyle, Attorney and Former Counsel at the NYC Department of Law
  • Kate Fitzpatrick, Attorney at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP and Member of the NYC Bar Association Animal Law Committee
  • Christopher Malone, PhD (Agriculture Committee Chair), Academic Chair of Political Science at Pace University and Policy Director for State Senator Gustavo Rivera
  • Patrick Manning, Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Hudson Valley Fresh, Inc. and New York State Assemblyman 1995-2006
  • David Yassky, Dean of Pace Law School and Former NYC Council Member

The Mock Legislative Hearing is the finale of Pace Academy’s year-long awareness initiative, the FoodYou Campaign. For more information, visit www.pace.edu/foodyou or contact Caroline Craig, Pace Academy’s research associate, at ccraig2@pace.edu.

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