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Students Celebrate Service by Pulling Ivy

On a sunny day in October, Environmental Studies Program students worked with Nearby Nature to pull invasive English Ivy from Alton Baker Park. Ivy has taken over much of the park’s understory, smothering and competing with native plants. Pulling the ivy will allow trillium, larkspur, fairy bells, false Soloman’s seal and other wildflowers to return.

The students’ Ivy Pull celebrated the kick-off of the National Learn & Serve Challenge. This year, the Environmental Leadership Program joined thousands of educators and community partners nationwide in accepting the National Learn & Serve Challenge. The Challenge is a seven-month campaign to raise awareness about service-learning and its impact on young people and their school success as well as their contributions to community improvement.

Service-learning is a hands-on teaching method that engages young people in solving problems within their schools and communities as part of academic studies and other out-of-school time learning activities. The Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) is a collaborative, interdisciplinary service-learning program housed in the Environmental Studies Program. The ELP matches student teams with non-profit organizations, governmental agencies and businesses to address local environmental needs. Students gain leadership, communication and applied professional skills by engaging with community issues.

Since 2001, the Environmental Leadership Program has completed 49 projects, serving over 30 community partners and training over 250 undergraduate and graduate students. Through service-learning, students can “be a solution” to real world environmental challenges that face our community, nation and the world.

Our community partner, Nearby Nature, is a non-profit education organization based in Eugene, Oregon. Their staff and volunteers lead nature walks, teach summer daycamps, host school programs, sponsor special events, teach adult workshops, and work on environmental restoration projects, primarily in the Whilamut Natural Area of Alton Baker Park. Nearby Nature also serves as the City of Eugene’s official Park Host in Alton Baker Park, maintains an educational Learnscape on the grounds of the Alton Baker Park Host Residence, and is a partner in the Network Charter School.

This event was made possible by the Oregon and Washington Campus Compacts and the Corporation for National & Community Service. The National Learn & Serve Challenge is a signature event of the National Service-Learning Partnership in collaboration with the Corporation for National and Community Service.