The third week working at Growing Hope went really well. I was able to participate in a raised bed build in Ypsilanti for a family who was having a hard time paying for necessities while taking care of their 12 year-old son who was born with muscular dystrophy. With experience in farming for several years, the father believed that he could grow a significant amount of food out of the four-by-four raised beds being installed. While we were working to fill the raised beds with compost, he shared some advice with us on getting a degree from college that will allow you to provide for family in the event that something happens. We were able to hear his perspective on what it takes to remain successful in a career, and I thought about how much the advice that he was giving to use could be used to benefit some of the older kids or young adults in the neighborhood, or perhaps a non-profit organization that could use his expertise in starting a business to help adults interested in the same thing. Service learning allows the same thing to happen: partnering with a community organization, students can find ways to be useful to a non-profit by simply listening to what the needs are in the community, and being able to watch for strengths within the community that can help involve the community on a deeper level with what the non-profit has identified as areas of outreach. As a student, listening objectively can be the most important skill when it comes to creating something within the community: rsome of the best experts on things being done in the community are living right in the neighborhood.
The community organization Engineers Making A Difference has been fortunate to partner is Growing Hope, an non-profit organization that works hard to make sure the the citizens of Ypsilanti have a reliable source of sustainable, fresh produce, and works to empower locals to grow their own produce by providing reading materials, tools, raised bed kits, seeds and seedlings to the community. Through the Downtown Ypsilanti Farmer’s Market, Growing Hope has been able to encourage support for local farmers and organic fresh produce being sold in Ypsilanti. Growing Hope works with Engineers Making A Difference to develop increasingly sustainable ways for the local community to grow their own produce with materials easily found around their neighborhood or city.
Please view Growing Hope’s website here.
Engineers Making A Difference is a undergraduate first year engineering service-learning course that partners with community organization Growing Hope in Ypsilanti, MI. Engineers Making A Difference is a course that focuses improving the ability of local citizens to have access to health food that has been grown in a sustainable way, by farmers in the community, or by the citizens themselves. Below is a short introduction to the Engineers Making a Difference course, taught by Dr. Lorelle Meadows, also Director of Academic Programs and Research Scientist in the College of Engineering.
Engineers, with their capacity to apply knowledge and solve problems possess the potential to profoundly influence on our world. With this power comes a responsibility that is not matched by many other careers paths. In this section of Engineering 100, we explore the responsible practice of engineering by addressing a global challenge for a local community. This year’s challenge will be world hunger. One seventh of the world’s population is hungry – over 1 billion people. Each year, hunger claims the lives of as many people as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Yet, as a world, we produce enough grain to provide over 3500 calories to each person every day. Hunger isn’t a problem isolated in the developing world – hunger can affect our closest neighbors. To address this need, we will work with a local non-profit to improve capacity in a local community for the development of affordable and nutritious food sources to battle urban hunger and malnutrition.
Be sure to visit the course Facebook page here.