Curtis – Money doesn't grow on trees but it sure will help grow a community garden and serve as a possible pilot project for rural development and community outreach.
The University of Nebraska-Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA) has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Rural Futures Institute for a community garden project being launched this summer at the Curtis campus.
Annually, the University of Nebraska-based RFI hosts competitive grant opportunities for Nebraskans to encourage collaborations, said Kim Peterson, RFI’s outreach program specialist.
A “Successful Teaching & Engagement” grant features curriculum development tied to partnerships between students, faculty and community agencies/programs for service learning or engagement.
Funding will be awarded July 1, for garden and farmers’ market activities in Curtis in 2014 and 2015. The grant will fund salaries for a program manager, student employees and interns, and start-up supplies.
“This is exciting for NCTA to be recognized by the Rural Futures Institute,” said NCTA Dean Ron Rosati. “We look forward to growing a garden together, with the community members who make the college more than an academic institution. This can give us all a sense of unity and tangible, collaborative results.”
Project coordinator will be Tee Bush, NCTA’s assistant professor of horticulture.
A key component will be participation by 4-H youth and clubs, in addition to college students and community residents, said Dr. Brad Ramsdale, chairman of NCTA’s agronomy/ horticulture division.
“One goal is to partner with the University of Nebraska Extension Service through Frontier County in working with 4-H youth and provide a mentoring and service opportunity with NCTA’s horticulture students,” Ramsdale said.
The project encourages college student involvement in providing services to help meet the community’s needs; integrates meaningful student service experiences into the curriculum; and builds curriculum-based reflection activities to enhance student learning, Peterson said.
Students will keep journals about their interactions and teaching experiences, Bush noted. “We are making ties with the community, college, youth and bringing it all together.”