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Drake service-learning receives grant for urban garden

Drake service-learning receives grant for urban garden

The Drake Service-Learning program recently received a competitive service-learning grant from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board. Totaling $44,544, the funds will go toward building “The Des Moines Urban Youth Learning Garden” on campus.

The garden will be designed to create a holistic learning space for elementary to college-aged students. It will encourage engagement in environmental, health, and urban gardening education. Drake will share the garden with the Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa and other youth organizations to expand environmental, food access, and educational opportunities to youth in Central Iowa. Features of the garden will include fruit trees, composting, a cold shed, raised garden beds, and multi-language signage.

“Many colleges and universities have gardens on campus; however, few have a specific focus on shared community and campus space,” says Mandi McReynolds, service-learning coordinator at Drake. “In addition, almost none of them have dual learning opportunities for students of higher education and local youth education.”

The garden will be erected at the corner of 25th Street and Forest Avenue, pending Drake University Board of Trustees approval. Students from every college and school on campus will have an opportunity to work in the garden with area children in different capacities.

Four Drake students from the environmental science and policy capstone course wrote the grant application: Cara Pratt, AS’12, Matthew Prather, AS’12, April Hansen, AS’12, and Rachael Stern, AS’12. McReynolds and David Courard-Hauri, associate professor of environmental science and policy, helped with the grant process. Drake was one of three projects selected in the Heartland Zone, which is comprised of six states. The grant is extremely competitive: Those who apply typically have less than a 10 percent chance of receiving funding.

Town hall meetings will be held in November to garner public input and to provide additional information on the project:

  • Nov. 12, 6:30 p.m., Olmsted Center, Room 310
  • Nov. 16, 4 p.m., Olmsted Center, Sussman Theater

For more information, contact Mandi McReynolds at 515-271-2338 or mandi.mcreynolds@drake.edu.