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.