by Rebekah Green
As those of you who have been following the story know, we were very excited to receive three years of federal funding from Learn and Serve America (LSA) to support service-learning course development in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines, in partnership with Entomology Outreach, the Campus Garden, Copeland Creek and the SSU Field Stations and Nature Preserves.
Unfortunately, all of the successfully approved LSA grants across the nation lost their funding when $39.5 million was cut from the program under the 2011 National Service Budget. According to a statement from the Corporation for National and Community Service, the loss of funding eliminates LSA as a whole, nationwide.
While the grant was still in effect, SSU students in Biology, Chemistry, Engineering Science, Environmental Studies & Planning (ENSP) and Geology service-learning classes worked closely with campus and community partners to study and restore the Preserves, Garden and Creek. SWEEP gave students "an opportunity for hands-on experience with a restoration project that complements their academic studies. It's a collaboration that has positive benefits, both ways," says Jenny Blaker, Outreach Coordinator for Cotati Creek Critters. STEM Service-Learning Coordinator Frederique Laviopierre agrees, "Copeland Creek is very special. It is a host to tremendous diversity of invertebrates and it is a great creek for multidisciplinary study."
As a result of Learn and Serve America being cut, the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) no longer has the second two years of funding to support SWEEP's original plans to develop additional service-learning courses in Kinesiology, ENSP and more. The CCE remains dedicated to providing faculty with information and resources for service-learning course development, and will continue to collaborate with faculty, students and community partners in the future. Utilizing the last of the LSA funds, we will host a faculty workshop on Tips and Trends in Service-Learning with a STEM focus on September 15. Get more information here and RSVP here.