A group of SIFE students working outdoors at The Homestead.
Despite this season's heavy snowfall and frigid temperatures, Drake University students are reaping the benefits of the outdoor labor they put in every Saturday morning during the fall of last semester.
The Drake students of SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) have been working in conjunction with The Homestead, a Central Iowa organization that serves children and adults with autism through educational, innovative programming.
The Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation recently awarded the Drake SIFE group $1,200 for its work with The Homestead's Campus Residential Program. The Campus Residential Program is located in Pleasant Hill, Iowa and includes an 80-acre farm where 24 adults with autism reside and work.
"Helping the Homestead" is one of six of the Drake SIFE student projects. The students involved with The Homestead hope to improve the Campus Residential Program's overall sustainability and use of the farm. The entire Drake SIFE group hopes to gain real-world business experience by engaging in hands on projects within the Des Moines community.
"I believe our project was selected because our cause is beneficial to the Des Moines community and because The Homestead farm needs help with sustainability and efficiency efforts," said Zach Schrom, first-year student and co-director of media/marketing for "Helping the Homestead." "Our group is really involved and passionate about the work we do and I know that came across in our application."
The student group plans to use the grant to continue making improvements to the apple orchard that is located on the Campus Residential Program's farm. Once the snow melts and the seasons change, they will purchase new apple trees and replace those that are dead or not producing in order to help the orchard grow and expand over the coming years.
"The planting of apple trees aligns perfectly with our goal of increasing sustainability at The Homestead," Schrom said. "New trees will benefit the residents as well as the farm itself for years to come. We are very excited about it."
Receiving the initial $1200 grant makes the group eligible for another $2000 from Lowe's upon successful completion of their detailed plan, which they hope to receive at the end of the semester. The group hopes to continue its work on sustainability with The Homestead, as well as their long-term fundraising efforts.
"Receiving the grant was a huge step for our sustainability efforts. It opened our eyes and made us realize that we need to make longevity a priority," said Schrom. "Now that we have some experience with the process, we will look at applying for other grants."
By the end of the Spring 2011 semester, the students hope they will have increased their publicity efforts and expanded their connections in order to increase the Des Moines community's awareness of The Homestead and the overall mission of SIFE.
SIFE is an international non-profit organization active on more than 1,400 university campuses in 48 countries. SIFE teams create economic opportunities in their communities by organizing outreach projects that focuses on: market economics, entrepreneurship, personal financial success skills, and business ethics.
For more information about SIFE and "Helping the Homestead," contact London James at London.James@drake.edu.