Service-Learning Goes Green for Center for Youth After-School Program
The Community-Based Service-Learning Program at Fisher has had another busy year, offering a variety of courses for students who have a chance to work on a diverse portfolio of community service projects. One course, Social Change Through Service, taught by Dr. Lynn Donahue, Director, Center for Service-Learning and Experiential Learning Support, started this semester off with one project plan and quickly had to switch gears.
The Center for Youth After-School Program at Monroe High School, an organization which young people can to turn to in order to deal with, explore, or understand issues of importance to them, identified a need for its students. And, after having worked with Fisher service-learning students before, Yversha Roman, program manager, knew she could turn to Fisher again.
Monroe High School had an extremely underutilized green house on its roof. Roman said the CYAP staff and students saw great potential for the space, and were looking for help implementing some best practices to start a horticultural club and jumpstart a vibrant green space. But, when some of the school’s pipes burst and other maintenance issues arose, the CYAP staff lobbied for indoor space to create a green room and indoor garden instead.
That is when Fisher’s students entered the picture. The course was designed so students could help revitalize the CYAP’s Greenhouse Program and assist with the coordination of a Greenhouse Club with the after-school program students. Fisher students were tasked with preparing 45-minute weekly lesson plans that included icebreaker activities, discussions, planting, watering, and cleanup and maintenance of the green space. They were also expected to have regular contact with Roman. In addition, they were responsible for leading the program’s horticultural club by helping to guide the participants with activities each week.
Meghan McClellan, a junior Biology major, is a student in the course and said she has really enjoyed working with the program. She and another student, Michael Iacono, worked closely with the kids. During one visit, they bought supplies, including seed packets and plants, and worked with the kids to repot the plants and start planting some seeds. They have also been teaching the kids some of the fundamentals about planting and growing your own food, and have an organic plant and food lesson planned for the weeks ahead.
By the end of the semester, the green space will be complete, and the students have plans to hold an open house for parents and teachers to see all that has been accomplished.
“The kids have loved everything we have done, and hopefully, this has sparked interest in more kids and they will come next time. I definitely think we are well on our way to accomplishing our goal,” said McClellan.