Tiffany worked with Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance improving water quality one restoration project at a time!

Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, an organization based in Santa Rosa Beach "committed to sustaining and providing optimum utilization of the Choctawhatchee Basin watershed while presenting opportunities for citizens, educators, and technical experts to promote the health of the Choctawhatchee watershed." CBA recognizes that the health of water resources is vitally important to our local economy considering fishing, tourism, and our quality of life rely upon a healthy watershed. An important aspect the CBA focuses on is citizen education and involvement. It is necessary for locals to become active in the conservation of these valued resources. 

Many skills were used and developed during the process of getting Service Learning hours. Firstly, I had to find and organization to work with! This led me to do some research about my area and what agencies are doing environmental work here. I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of opportunities I came across as well as the sheer enthusiasm of such places to bring on volunteers. I got to use computer skills for checking and entering water quality data into the CBA's database. I hate to say I have not worked much with Excel, but my supervisor was more than happy to walk me through each step and I am glad I got some more practice on it. I feel as though knowing the program will certainly help me out with future jobs. I also tend to do things on my own. I had to go out of my comfort zone and work with a group for the oyster bagging and reef building. These activities could not be done by one person and the camaraderie was actually nice, especially since everyone working shared a common passion for a healthy environment. Becoming more adapted to group work will be advantageous for job opportunities. Not only did I get more relaxed in group settings, but I also spoke up and asked questions. Like I said before, I'm a bit of an introvert and stay pretty quiet. However, doing work I really enjoyed and am enthusiastic about made me want to learn more about why, how, what was being done. All in all, the experience was one I would never take back and I look forward to continuing volunteer work with both agencies.  

Professional development

Service Learning is not simply a way for students to earn a grade! It is also not simply a way for them to experience, hands on, some lessons we discuss in a classroom. Nor is it solely a way for UWF students to give back to either hometown or UWF community. Service learning is also a way to hone in on some professional development skills which are and will be needed in every aspect of life. Melissa recognized excellent professional development practice during her service learning:

Throughout my service learning I developed better teamwork skills, my leadership skills and my creativity. Becoming an Elementary education Major hoping to teach Kindergarten, these are all super important skills to have and to keep working on. I used to be afraid to talk in front of people, but teaching the kids about how photosynthesis works and coming up with the “today I ate a rainbow” project, I realized it wasn't so bad.


Pure Bliss!

I have just begun reading through the projects my students submitted for Spring 2015 Service Learning and I am giddy with happiness at this submission! THIS is why we work so many hours teaching people through the UWF Student Community Garden!! Check out this blurb from Jasmine:

I had a great learning experience working with the UWF Garden Club. UWF’s garden club’s mission is, “to build community at UWF and in the surrounding region. To promote food sustainability and security by creating an alternative to the industrial system of food production. To teach UWF students, faculty, staff and other how to grow food locally and organically. To encourage healthy eating by increasing access to fruits and vegetables. To increase respect and concern for the natural world. To help students develop leadership and community-building skills”.  While volunteering at the garden, my main objective was extermination and preservation. Weeds and invasive grasses were attempting to invade the garden once again. To stop that process we were to move the mulch (where there were green shrubs poking through), pull up the cardboard underneath, pull the weeds and its roots completely from the soil, place new cardboard down (to block the sun from promoting the weeds to grow) and place new mulch on top of that. The entire job that I was involved with revolves around Chapter 10: Evolution and Extinction. The chapter talks about invasive species which are species not native to the environment and will cause harm to the environment it is introduced to or invading. The purpose of my job is to remove the invasive species of grass that is in the garden before it takes over. Remove the species from the root and block the sunlight from nurturing it to grow again. The garden experience is a lesson right from the book. The garden is an organic garden and does not use any harmful chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers that enhance growth using chemicals. The vegetables are grown all naturally which will not harm the environment or get into the food which will be consumed and the chemicals being digested. Keeping the garden 100 percent natural the garden has to use the cardboard to kill off weeds instead of chemicals. I definitely developed and strengthened my skills such as communication and problem solving. Professionally the experienced helped with my people skills and helped me become slightly more comfortable with starting conversations with people. During my experience at the garden I learned so much valuable information about gardening I became motivated to finally create my own garden. The next week I bought all my supplies from Home Depot and got down and dirty to start clean eating.

Hillary Dye doing service learning through a love for animals!

Volunteering for the Emerald Coast Animal Allies was a great experience for me to be a part of.  After I earned my ten hours of service learning, I continued to volunteer because I enjoyed it so much.  I was able to meet new people who shared the same interest in animals as I do.  Taking care of the health of animals and being included in the adoption process has been an extraordinary experience.  Throughout this entire experience, it has made me understand the struggle that many animals have to go through.  Interacting with animals in our environment relates to several of our lessons that we discuss in class.  One of the lessons related to my volunteering experience is learning about the habitats of species.  In Chapter 8, Community Ecology, the lesson explains about the human causes of habitats and species within a community.  By being involved with animals, I realize that all animals can be disrupted by human engagement.  Many of these animals are taken from home to home.  This causes them to change environments, which is very hard to adapt.  Finding a stable home for these animals will potentially fix this issue.  The lesson also discusses the relationships of symbiosis.  For example, when a kitten gets fleas, which is very common from changing its environment constantly, the kitten is harmed.  When a kitten gets a tick, the tick is able to get its nourishment.  This is an example of parasitism.

Loved the garden so much Talisha put in extra hours!

Overall, the service learning assignment was truly an amazing experience. After working in the garden and completing my 10 hours, I came back an extra day because I had so much fun learning how to build an organic garden and meeting new people who attend UWF. The end result from this experience has made me a better individual by becoming more aware of nature and learning what I can do to make a difference.

Cleaning up a church yard for service learning!

One of the several lessons Jordyn related to this service learning project:

Chapter 6: Ecosystems and Nutrient Cycling relays the message that everything in an ecosystem replies on each other. The animals rely on the plant life, while the plant life relies on the animals. Ecosystems go full circle. While cleaning up the shrubbery and flora in the garden, this lesson came to mind. Although no animals other than birds and maybe rabbits inhabit this garden, this garden community relies on each other. The grassy areas were being taken over by weeds, the shrubs had overgrown, and the flowers had died. The bee community that inhabited
this garden had to move, due to the loss of flowers they were feeding off. The grass was not getting the sunlight it needed with the overgrown shrubs covering it up and the weed takeover. This prayer garden is supposed to be lively and a happy place to go, but it seemed more dead than anything else. After sprucing up the yard, things seem to be going much better. The grass is still alive and everything is clean. Again, this is a smaller scenario, but made me realize an ecosystem is not only a big grassland, prairie, or rainforest. An ecosystem can be in your own back yard. Everything relies on each other.

Service Learning at the new UWF garden by Monica

Service Learning
1.) I was given the opportunity to work with the UWF Garden Club. Their mission is, to build community at UWF and in the surrounding region. To promote food sustainability and security by creating an alternative to the industrial system of food production. To teach UWF students, faculty, staff and other how to grow food locally and organically. To encourage healthy eating by increasing access to fruits and vegetables. To increase respect and concern for the natural world. To help students develop leadership and community-building skills.
2.) Throughout the time that I was volunteering at the garden, I did various things. For example, all the volunteers took turns laying down cardboard to kill of the smaller plants. We also dug a trail where we would connect tubes to carry water throughout the garden. We raked dirt as well as mulch all throughout the garden to even everything out proportionately as well as create a god place for the fruits and vegetables to grow on.
3.) Chapter 1: Environmental Literacy relates to the work we did in many ways. For example, as previously mentioned, the volunteers laid down cardboard. The cardboard was used to kill off all the plants that were too small to be cut down. For example, weeds, grass and smaller plats of that sort. It especially relates to chapter 1 because instead of using chemicals to kill of all the plants, a more natural way was used to kill off the plants. The cardboard is biodegradable so it will do its job for a temporary time and then give the chance for other plants to be grown without damaging the soil and making it loose all it’s nutrients.
4.) Another way the volunteer work related to the lessons learned in this course is that the garden being built is going to be an all natural garden. Instead of using electricity they are using a one hundred percent natural source, the sun. So no extra electricity will be used. As well as they will not be using any other unnatural things like pesticides that are full of chemicals. The plants and fruits will be grown one hundred percent natural to make sure they do not cause nay harm to the environment.
5.) All us volunteers removed the invasive species that were in the environment. An invasive species is a species that is not native to that environment. Invasive species are harmful to the environment because they can over consume and/or throw off the natural ecosystem of that area. We did that by cutting and removing the larger plants and as mentioned previously we used cardboard to remove the rest of the smaller plants. The information of invasive species can be found in Chapter 10: Evolution and Extinction.
6.) During my service learning experience I developed skills like leadership and learning to commit to the work that I was doing to get it done in the most efficient way. It also helped me work on my team skills since we did have to do many things as a group to get things accomplished as fast as possible and the best way possible. These are great skills to obtain for my profession or any profession anyone decides to pursue.