As a land-grant institutation, it is important for us to find ways to connect with the community as we make meaningful connections. Service learning offers students the opportunity to provide community service while building knowledge and skills in specific areas related to their curriculum. Students are challenged to solve problems using what they have previously learned while expanding their understanding at the same time. While students are benefitting from gaining practical real-world experience, the partnering organization is also acquiring insight on how to address ongoing concerns and needs within the community.
Recent Departmental Service Learning Projects
- Dr. George Hess’ Conservation Biology in Practice class and Dr. Nils Peterson’s Human Dimensions of Wildlife Management class partnered to complete a service learning project focused on wildlife encountered at Cary and Raleigh parks. Students worked in teams to go on local greenways to interview people about the wildlife they encountered while on Cary and Raleigh parks and recreation properties.
- Ms. Terrie Litzenberger’s Environmental Technology and Management Water Quality Lab completed a service learning project with the City of Raleigh Wetlands Center. The class worked with Walnut Creek Wetlands Center in Raleigh to monitor a portion of Little Rock Creek that runs behind the Wetlands Center. The students collected water samples at various point to analyze them for e.coli, pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen and VOCs. These results were presented to Ms. Sherry Graham of the Walnut Creek Wetlands Center, so her team could use the information as part of a proposal for an EPA Urban Waters Small Grant project to improve urban waters and promote community revitalization for the Walnut Creek Wetlands Center.
- Since 2010, Dr. Gary Blank’s NR100 class has been assisting Raleigh Parks staff with invasive plant removal, control and inventory projects at various locations, including Pullen Park, Raleigh Little Theater and Rose Garden, Jaycee Park and Hymettus Woods Park. To date (2016), the students have assisted at 16 projects with 734 hours by 367 volunteers. Their efforts have greatly bolstered the ability of staff to gain control of invasive plants in our parks. At Hymettus especially, they have contributed to reclamation of sensitive habitat valuable in an urban setting. In 2016, the class received the Outstanding Project Volunteer Award given by the City of Raleigh.
- Dr. George Hess led students in NR 300 (Natural Resources Measurements) in a service learning project with Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space and WakeNature Preserves Partnership. Students completed an inventory on the natural resources present on the Stevens Assemblage (16 acres +/-) in Wake County. Students split into groups and covered the following aspects: Human Interaction, Soils & Topography, Water Resources, Vegetation and Wildlife. These groups combined their findings to create a Natural Resources Inventory for the city to use to ensure proper management of all natural resources’ aspects.