amazing place this is. As they learn about the Creek, they find out
they are personally connected in so many ways—[through] the water
they drink, the food they eat, and the air they breathe. Learning
about Copeland Creek gives them a sense of place and belonging."
--Dr. Claudia Luke, Director of SSU Field Stations & Nature Preserves
New Directions for SWEEP
Even after the Learn and Serve grant funding cycle has run its course, SWEEP will continue to help SSU students become engaged learners, achieve academically, and feel a sense of place and belonging. The program has identified goals for future development, including the following:
- Overcome resource constraints and remain responsive to community partners' needs and suggestions.
- Continue to support and inspire development of new service-learning classes.
In reflecting on their participation in the program, community partners have said they appreciate students' help and SWEEP's mission; they find it gratifying to help students develop skills, and they appreciate having the chance to expose students to complex real-world problems in need of solutions.
Partners have said they would like to see more cross-collaboration of "vertical silos of knowledge" in the future. They would like to see SWEEP begin to promote key outcomes across organizations.
"Partners have said they would like to see more
cross-collaboration of 'vertical silos of knowledge'
in the future. They would like to see SWEEP begin
to promote key outcomes across organizations."
Although the program does not have a stable funding source with which to hire a manager specific to the STEM disciplines to help with resource integration, relationships have been created that make continued—and more ambitious— collaborations feasible.
New service-learning classes have been scheduled in 2011-2012. Biology Professor Dr. Richard Whitkus will be teaching Plant Taxonomy (Biol 330) as a service-learning class in spring 2012. His students will collect and identify plants along the campus portion of Copeland Creek to document native and introduced species.
The impact of the program has spread beyond the STEM disciplines, too. In fall 2011, twelve sections of freshman composition (English 100A) will support students in transitioning from high school to college through use of service-learning projects. The projects will introduce students to Sonoma County, will provide hands-on exploration of topics pertaining to sustainability and well-being, and will also benefit Copeland Creek and organizations working to protect Sonoma County's watershed.
New and Continued Collaborations
The Learn and Serve grant has increased the visibility of service-learning in the STEM disciplines; many community members know who to contact with project ideas, and faculty have developed their own network of organizations they are partnering with or would like to partner with. (See On-Campus Partners, Off-Campus Partners, and Get Involved for more information.)
Ideas for new classes and projects have included the following:
- Propagation of native plants from seeds collected from the Fairfield Osborn Preserve and other sites.
- Inventories of plants, insects, birds, amphibians, and microbes to assist with larger monitoring efforts.
- Continued plantings, particularly in labor-intensive clay soils in an area north of Cotati.
- Continued restoration efforts along all stretches of Copeland Creek.
- Continued Harding grass and related research.
- Expanded entomology outreach efforts to reach more diverse populations.
- More water quality monitoring and increased opportunities for cross-collaborations with organizations working to restore and maintain watershed health.
- More water quality monitoring and increased opportunities for cross-fertilization among departments. (E.g., engineering students might help biology and chemistry students better understand the benefits of and limits to monitoring technologies, and biology and chemistry students might help engineering students better understand the importance of biological and chemical parameters being monitored.)
Some members of the STEM faculty have joined forces with members of the Sustainability Work Group and interested students to develop criteria to help faculty assess the ecological footprint of their classes. See Sustainability Certification for more information.
independently of us that could be set up on our section of the
Laguna channel, it would be useful and immediately relevant."
—Jenny Blaker, Outreach Coordinator for the Cotati Creek Critters