As those of you who have been following the story know, we were very excited to receive three years of federal funding from Learn & 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 & 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 & 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 & Trends in Service-Learning with a STEM focus on September 15. Get more information here and RSVP here.