Battle Grove serves as a model for living-learning lab

University Gazette, March 8, 2017

Sustainability @ UNC, Feb. 22, 2017

Geoffrey Bell and students Jun Wang and Brooke Benson tested the water in Battle BranchGeoffrey Bell wanted a way for students in his fall 2016 Restoration Ecology class to link concepts in ecosystem restoration with the practical application of research techniques they were learning. Sally Hoyt wanted to find new ways to engage students in the campus infrastructure around them.

So it was only natural that the two found a common purpose in the Battle Grove Restoration Project, which turned the once-soggy area beside McIver Residence Hall into a gentle stream that flows from Raleigh Street to Country Club Road.

The stream was created last year through a process called daylighting, where water from a Battle Branch tributary that had been piped beneath the road for 75 years was released in an aboveground stream. The new Battle Branch stream was designed with a filtration process that would naturally filter pollutants and contaminants out of runoff water, benefiting water quality downstream as well as in the immediate area.

A professor at North Carolina State University has worked with Hoyt, the University’s stormwater engineer, and her team to examine the effect of storm conditions on the stream’s water quality, but that work didn’t include monitoring Battle Branch’s base flow conditions – taken when it wasn’t raining as a way to gauge nutrient concentrations on an average day.

That’s where Bell’s class became instrumental.

“That was a gap in information we needed,” Hoyt said, “and I worked with Dr. Bell on parameters that were both useful to the project and feasible for his students to measure with the equipment that was available.”

Testing the nutrient concentration over time is important because the Battle Grove area is part of the Jordan Lake watershed, and that lake already has too many nutrients, some of which reach it through base flow conditions, Hoyt explained.

A three-student team in Bell’s class took on the base flow-monitoring project and designed their measurement and analysis methodologies to provide the information Hoyt needed. They sampled the water multiple times during the semester at four sites within Battle Branch to measure base flow concentrations of nitrate, nitrite, ammonium and phosphate in the water as well as dissolved oxygen, salinity and temperature.

Although their research didn’t yield conclusive patterns – phosphate was the only nutrient that differed significantly among the four sites – that in itself is a finding. It points to the need for additional testing at different times during the year to create a more complete picture than tests within one semester can show, the students explained in their report.The sites were selected based on varying degrees of treatment, including two places where water enters the system and a third location where water coming in from both entry points exits the system, said Brooke Benson, one of the students on the team.

The Battle Grove project was one of six community partnerships Bell’s class developed. Student teams also worked with University clients to examine ecological issues related to short-leaf pines in the North Carolina Botanical Garden, oyster restoration in conjunction with the Institute for Marine Sciences, stream monitoring on Outdoor Recreation Center land and endangered species restoration in Battle Park, as well as a project with the Town of Chapel Hill to monitor water quality for a local stream.

The class, which Bell has taught each fall for the past several years, is an APPLES service-learning class, requiring students to devote 30 hours outside of class to their assigned restoration project.

“As I developed the course, I saw an opportunity to bring both the service component and a practical application of research into the classroom because there was so much restoration work going on around campus,” said Bell, senior lecturer in the Curriculum in Environment and Ecology.

Bell focuses not only on teaching his students key concepts in restoring ecosystems, but also the research skills they need to design experiments, think critically and test hypotheses, and analyze their data.

“The biggest benefit for the students is that they can take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to a real issue,” he said. In the process, they’re learning how to manage projects and meet clients’ needs while giving back to the community.

In the Battle Grove project, for example, Hoyt showed the student team around the site and provided parameters for the information she needed, and the students took it from there. They determined the specifics of the study design and analysis.

“Projects like this are critically important to being good stewards of our environment,” said Benson, who is majoring in environmental studies with a concentration in ecology and society. “Nature has done a good job of taking care of itself, and we have to pay attention to the effects of pollution and urbanization on our natural systems.”

Bell’s class is a model for using the campus as a living-learning laboratory, as Chancellor Carol L. Folt has championed as part of the new Three Zeros Initiative. On March 24, Bell will be part of a Center for Faculty Excellence-sponsored panel to discuss innovative ways to integrate research and service into a living-labs classroom.

And his students’ work has laid the foundation for further assessment.

This semester, Stephanie Monmoine will take additional water samples from the Battle Branch stream, and she will create a time-lapse photo vignette of the area to show how the site has changed in terms of vegetation, animal habitats and other factors.

Monmoine, an intern with the Sustainable Triangle Field Site Program, is also focusing on education and outreach efforts.

“As students, many of us don’t consider how much planning goes into taking care of our campus,” she said. “I have a chance to see some of what happens behind the curtain to make our University run smoothly.”

Launched in fall 2016, the Three Zeros initiative is Carolina’s integrated approach to reducing its environmental footprint through three sustainability goals: net zero water usage; zero waste to landfills; and net zero greenhouse gas emissions. A central component to the initiative is to create a living-learning laboratory for students, faculty and staff to study and advance the most recent developments in sustainability policy and technology.

APPLES leads alumna to an alternative route

By Veronica Ortega

Alternative breaks program provided UNC graduate with unique experiences

Hope Thomson AFBHope Thomson ‘15, like many college students, was exploring options to pursue a graduate degree after completing her undergraduate curriculum at UNC. But one campus experience took her down an unexpected path that influenced her career development.

Thomson participated in an APPLES Service-Learning Alternative Fall Break experience (AFB) where students learn and serve outside the UNC community. AFB participants attend orientation sessions that prepare them for the challenges and issues they will confront during their service experience. Students also collaborate with community service partners, engaging in both direct and indirect services as well as advocacy work. The resulting networking, team building and project management skills are invaluable to AFB participants who benefit significantly from the intimate immersion in local communities.

For Thomson, the AFB experience nurtured an interest to further her community-focused work. As a result, after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, Thomson switched gears on her post-graduation plans and accepted a full-time position with Morehead Planetarium and Science Center (MPSC).

Hope Thompson StemvilleToday, as a community outreach educator at the planetarium, Thomson combines her passions for chemistry and civic engagement by sharing educational science programs with families in dozens of communities across North Carolina. One program the outreach team delivers is a simulated laboratory experience in classrooms at schools that are not able to visit the planetarium because of distance and/or expenses. Another program is the free summer camp that services 10 North Carolina counties. Thomson’s personal favorites are doing chemistry experiments with third and eighth-grade classrooms like Elephant Toothpaste and coordinating the STEMville Science Symposium, a half-day science conference at MPSC for students in grades four to seven.

“You cannot bring science to the middle of North Carolina, if you have never been to the middle of North Carolina,” Thomson said. AFB engages participants in the community in such a way that makes their community service meaningful. Thomson added that AFB’s immersive experience taught her the importance of understanding and respecting the diversity that helps many community initiatives succeed. “My career is as unexpected as it is rewarding, and I appreciate the role that AFB played in helping me find my best way forward.”

APPLES Course Development Grant enhances filmmaking class

By Kealia Reynolds

Rachel Schaevitz wanted her students to experience working with real-world clients while creating media in public service. So, she applied for an APPLES Service-Learning course development grant and proposed that students in her COMM 493 film production class pair with university departments to create videos to use as teaching tools in K-12 and community college classrooms. The course is a collaboration between the Department of Communication and Carolina Public Humanities. Inspired by retired professor Francesca Talenti, Schaevitz, a post-doc research associate in the Department of Communication and Carolina Public Humanities, revised her class to include a service component where student filmmaker teams collaborate with educators across campus.

Course development grants successfully integrate community-based service into the curriculum and promote the pedagogy of service-learning at UNC.

“One of my favorite things about this course is that it is truly interdisciplinary, truly helps students serve the public in a meaningful way that relates to their career goals, and truly takes advantage of the myriad resources available here at UNC,” Schaevitz said.

Jaycee Rogers films for her class

Some students in Schaevitz’s class experienced filmmaking for an education-based audience for the first time ever. So, the creative decisions made were filtered through the lens of education. They had to keep the attention of high school students, explain complicated historical material and creatively incorporate faculty experts.

“As the films started taking shape, students became increasingly excited about the prospect that students and teachers in classrooms all over the state would be relying on their work for educational information,” Schaevitz said. “This added a layer of responsibility and accountability to what would otherwise have been a purely artistic project.”

When Jaycee Rogers ’17, a communication studies and English major from Robbinsville, North Carolina, found out that their videos would be used in classrooms, she understood the potential the projects had.

“Knowing that this video was actually going to be useful to educate someone made me push harder to create a great video,” Rogers said. “The aspect of community service made it more than just a class — I was doing this to help a system that needed content to teach kids who need to learn.”

Thanks to the grant, Schaevitz fully integrated a community-based service component into the course. Schaevitz also realized an added impact; the grant allowed her to engage with the Department of Music, incorporating an interdisciplinary experience for the students. They could go beyond the classroom and partner with another professor’s class to enhance their videos. Schaevitz’s students worked with Professor Allen Anderson’s advanced composition course to have his students create original scores for each film made in her class.

“Because we had funds from APPLES, we could pay for mixing and engineering of original student-produced music for all six films in the class,” Schaevitz said.

While Schaevitz and her students anticipated that middle and high school teachers would use the films, they didn’t imagine it would extend beyond that. “We’ve loved learning that professors here at UNC are using our videos as instructional tools in the university classroom as well,” Schaevitz said.

The partnership between Schaevitz’s course and the Carolina K-12 program, also under the Carolina Public Humanities department, will place the class’ videos on a database of educational resources available to teachers across North Carolina. Once the videos are added to the database, teachers across the country will use them to help teach their students.

Schaevitz and her students expected their work to have an educational impact. But the students did not expect the emotional impact the course would have on them. Rogers added how essential it was having professor Schaevitz lead the class. “There were parts in this class that were incredibly hard when deadlines were approaching and she was always there to push us and jump into the thick of production with us,” Rogers said. “Without her, I don’t think the motivation and the sense of community would have been as strong.”

 

UNC students and staff partner with communities for hurricane relief

By Becca Bender

Lumberton disaster relief trip - groupOn Friday, Jan. 27, I had the opportunity to travel to Lumberton, North Carolina with 11 members of the UNC community (four staff members, including me, and eight undergraduate students) to provide continued assistance in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. As a native of eastern North Carolina, I am happy that UNC and the Carolina Center for Public Service made it a priority to work in partnership with the affected communities to offer relief.

We had a full day on Friday, leaving campus at 7:30 a.m. for the two-hour drive to Lumberton and returning back to campus at 7 p.m. Squeezing 12, mostly-strangers, into a van makes for a wonderful opportunity to get to know each other. We arrived in Lumberton and received a brief overview of the work that the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church has done after the storm and then drove to our first work site. Driving through parts of town, it is hard to believe it was underwater just a few short months ago. We were told as the water made its way through the town from the Lumber River, it traveled down the railroad tracks like a fire hose and quickly flooded surrounding areas.

We spent the day serving alongside volunteers from Morehead City, North Carolina who have been assisting with relief efforts through the United Methodist Church. Our group worked on two homes where we removed floorboards so the homes could be sprayed for mold. A crew will then decide if the home can be rebuilt or not. One of the lead volunteers mentioned that it is not Lumberton disaster relief tripuncommon to come back to Lumberton a few weeks after you complete a project and see that the house you worked on was torn down, but that is the nature of disaster relief and the slow rebuilding process.

At the end of the day, Mac Legerton, executive director of the Center for Community Action in Robeson County, shared some of his reflections on the storm and the recovery process. The Center for Community Action is a longtime partner of APPLES Service-Learning alternative break trips. Legerton shared some of the current work he is doing post-Hurricane Matthew to promote healthy energy, economic and environmental practices in a rural community like Robeson County.

As our group left Lumberton to return to campus, I felt incredibly humbled by the experience of offering assistance after such a huge disaster and seeing numerous homes and businesses now gutted, with their futures unknown. It was eye-opening to see the storm’s physical and emotional effects on community structures and residents. I am also grateful that our staff and student participants took time out of their schedules to commit to this experience and spend the day serving others.

Additional UNC disaster relief trips will continue to be offered. For details and to register, visit UNC disaster relief trips. The best source of updated information is posted on a dedicated website at ccps.unc.edu/HurricaneMatthew. The center will continue to collect and share information about relief efforts.

UNC community visits Tarboro to offer disaster relief

Tarrboro Hurricane Matthew relief tripWhile disaster recovery efforts continue in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, the UNC community also continues to provide much-needed help through hurricane disaster relief trips. Fifteen members of the UNC community (seven undergraduate students, four staff, three faculty and one graduate student) travelled to Tarboro and Princeville, North Carolina Friday, Dec. 9 to help homeowners clean out their homes.

“Carolina students, faculty and staff care about service and were grateful for the opportunity to serve in partnership with communities down East”, said Kim Allen, program officer for faculty and campus programs at the Carolina Center for Public Service, who coordinated the relief trip in partnership with the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Leaving campus at 7 a.m. and returning at 7 p.m., volunteers worked alongside the homeowners and members of a work crew from Michigan.

Patricia Sullivan, associate professor in the Department of Public Safety, was one of three faculty members who volunteered. “Before this trip, I had never heard of Princeville and knew nothing about the plight of its residents,” she said. “It was sobering to see the extent of the damage caused by the flooding — almost every home uninhabitable and nearly all of each family’s belongings piled in front still waiting to be picked up and hauled away. It was good to do the little bit that we could and to learn more about the tremendous scope of the challenge facing the residents of this unique town. It was also wonderful to spend time with students, staff, and faculty in an entirely different setting. I would love to make a service trip like this a finals week ritual and I would especially welcome the opportunity to go back to work in Princeville.”

Additional UNC disaster relief trips will continue to be offered. For details and to register, visit UNC disaster relief trips. The best source of updated information is posted on a dedicated website at ccps.unc.edu/HurricaneMatthew. The center will continue to collect and share information about relief efforts.

UNC-Chapel Hill student honored for community service

campus_compact-300x244Jashawnna Gladney ’17, a global studies major from Thomasville, North Carolina was recognized for outstanding leadership and service by North Carolina Campus Compact, a statewide network of colleges and universities with a shared commitment to civic engagement. Gladney is a recipient of the network’s Community Impact Award, honoring one student leader at each member school.

Gladney has led Carolina’s on-campus food pantry, the Carolina Cupboard, during a crucial period of growth and new partnerships. She helped Carolina Cupboard secure new funding and a new space, and she has pushed for the capacity to accept and provide perishable foods. Gladney established partnerships with Residence Life, APPLES Service-Learning program, and the pan-campus Food for All committee. Her efforts have meant more food provided to students in need and increased awareness among the UNC community about the reality of food insecurity. In addition, she interned with nonprofits Nourish International and Carolina for Amani, and volunteers regularly with Carolina Covenant Achieve Pre-Health Society.

Gladney was honored at the Compact’s annual CSNAP student conference Nov. 12 at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. The event convened more than 160 students and staff from 24 campuses in the network. The conference included student-led workshops on diverse community engagement topics and a showcase of organizations working for social change, including the Campus Kitchens Project, Rachel Carson Council and the Sustained Dialogue Institute.

Gladney was one of 25 students selected by their campus for the 2016 honor, joining more than 200 college students recognized by the network since the award was first presented in 2006.

North Carolina Campus Compact is a statewide coalition of 36 public, private and community colleges and universities that share a commitment to civic and community engagement. The network was founded in 2002 and is hosted by Elon University. North Carolina Campus Compact is an affiliate of the national Campus Compact organization, which claims 1,000 member schools representing nearly two million college students.

-Carolina-

Social justice is Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholar Chérie Rivers Ndaliko’s passion

Chérie Rivers Ndaliko and her husband, Petna Ndaliko KatondoloIn 2010, Chérie Rivers Ndaliko and her husband, internationally acclaimed Congolese filmmaker and activist Petna Ndaliko Katondolo, traveled to 33 colleges and universities around the country to show their film, Jazz Mama, which documents the strength of Congolese women in the face of upheaval and violence. Before showing the film, she asked audience members if they knew anything about the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Few, if any, raised their hands. Ndaliko knew she had more work to do.

In the face of the economic conflict raging in Congo in which American consumers are complicit, “there’s no chance the political situation in the Congo is going to change when Americans have no idea that there’s anything even happening,” she said.

Social justice is Ndaliko’s passion, and she appreciates that she has found a space for it in academia. As a Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholar and an assistant professor of music and interdisciplinary scholar, Ndaliko researches and teaches about the intersection of creativity, conflict and social change in Africa. In addition, she and her husband run Yolé!Africa, an organization he founded that provides youth in eastern Congo the space, skills and alternative education necessary to thrive despite the deadly conflict in the region.

Ndaliko finds that the classroom gives students a safe space to discuss social justice issues. “People who are at a point in their lives where they’re really trying to form their values and figure out how they want to shape their adulthood — having these kinds of conversations is really powerful,” she said.

“As scholars of culture, we have very clear insight and recommendations that need to be considered on par with recommendations from engineers and doctors and economists.”

Such conversations will be part of a conference at UNC-Chapel Hill in Oct. 27-28, “The Art of Emergency: Aesthetics and Aid in African Crises.” Ndaliko is partnering with a fellow at the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University, Samuel M. Anderson, to bring together an interdisciplinary mix of scholars, artists, community organizers and students to examine the relationship between creativity and humanitarian aid in conflict regions.

Her new book, on cultural activism and art in the Congo,Necessary Noise: Music, Film and Charitable Imperialism in the East of Congo, will be published in October.

While some nongovernmental organizations and humanitarian agencies attempt to address problems, few of them engage with the local community enough to guide long-lasting change, she said. What’s often lacking is an emphasis on developing critical thinking skills.

“That’s a prime example of the value of a humanities education,” she said. “As scholars of culture, we have very clear insight and recommendations that need to be considered on par with recommendations from engineers and doctors and economists.”

The conference is designed to be interactive and create discussions around best practices for social justice work.

“That kind of shift in thinking leads directly to structural change,” Ndaliko said. “It empowers people who are on the ground to be owners and agents of that change and to direct it as they see fit.”

By Kristen Chavez ’13 Carolina Arts & Sciences

Photo credit: Steve Exum 

APPLES alternative fall break participants serve where needed

rural2_343x255Each year, many UNC students spend their fall break at home, binge-watching their favorite Netflix show or catching up on sleep lost during midterms. But for 70 students participating in APPLES Service-Learning alternative fall breaks (AFB), fall break is spent serving communities throughout North Carolina, the mid-Atlantic and Southeast.

APPLES alternative fall breaks are student-led, service-oriented experiences where students dedicate their service to participate in six focus areas: urban communities, Latino communities, rural communities, environmental issues, arts in public service and service-learning initiative. Because APPLES alternative breaks has long-standing relationships with community partners, the work students perform is aligned directly to what the community needs. So in the wake of the devastation Hurricane Matthew brought to Eastern North Carolina on Oct. 8, the rural communities alternative break revamped its work to focus on helping those affected by the hurricane.

“While in Robeson County, we felt angry about systemic injustices that people face, but also hopeful and inspired by the strength of the community,” said Rachael Purvis ‘18, a biology major from Gastonia, North Carolina. “One of our community partners told us to hold on to those feelings from this experience and let them carry us throughout our lives and careers.”

APPLES alternative fall break, rural communitiesThe 12 students who participated in the rural communities break visited Robeson County, a highly impoverished riverside community in Eastern North Carolina. Robeson County was one of many communities left flooded by Hurricane Matthew. Students spent their time cleaning out damaged homes, learning from local speakers about emergency response in rural and tribal communities, and assisting the Center for Community Action and the Robeson County Church and Community Center in their work serving the community.

These AFB students gained a first-hand account of how their service work can make a difference in a community only a few hours away from their university. While these Tar Heels only served Robeson County for a few days, the impact of this experience will last long past their return to UNC.

“The clean-up experience [with the students] was both excruciatingly painful and dramatically rewarding. We shared both aspects of the experience with each other and with family members,” said Reverend Mac Legerton, executive director and co-founder of the Center for Community Action. “The experience was deeply transformative, mainly because it included care and discomfort, heartache and heart affection. The classroom experience rarely takes you to either space and place. Community experience does, particularly when it provides both depth and breadth in one’s life that is made explicit through de-liberation and reciprocity. This is the core of meaningful and transformative service-learning.”

Beth Clifford ‘19 from Mount Prospect, Illinois said, “Robeson County changed us in ways we didn’t expect. Even though we just intended to serve, the community members made their mark on our lives.”

APPLES summer intern impacts local organizaton

By Catie Armstrong

Interns can do a lot to further an organization’s work, especially a nonprofit organization. This past summer, the Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness hosted Morgan McLaughlin, a senior public policy and political science double major as its first APPLES Service-Learning intern. According to Michelle Goryn, Raleigh/Wake Partnership board member, the experiences were so positive on both sides that plans are to host another intern.

morgan-mclaughlin-apples-summer-intern“From day one, Morgan contributed to projects critical to the Partnership’s efforts,” Goryn said. “The contributions Morgan made benefitted the Partnership by expanding its outreach, awareness and capacity in the community.”

APPLES internships are unique, intense experiences in service for either the spring semester or summer. Students intern at a variety of nonprofit and government organizations, receive funding ($1,250 for spring and $2,500 for summer) and academic course credit through a course hosted by the School of Social Work. APPLES interns are considered staff in their organizations and have a great deal of responsibility as well as professional growth opportunities. Interns also receive individualized academic instruction from a faculty member and hands-on experience that will help them grow as community leaders. APPLES hosted 30 summer interns.

The Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homeless is a nonprofit dedicated to addressing the issues surrounding being homeless in the Triangle area and working toward both short term and long term solutions. McLaughlin’s internship helped the organization expand to better serve the homeless community.

As a summer interns, McLaughlin implemented a comprehensive communications plan, created new content for the website and social media platforms, and developed a new donation management system to accompany an updated online donation platform.

McLaughlin’s internship experience extended beyond the impactful work she did for the Partnership; she also learned more about the issues with which she was working so closely. “I learned a lot about the American homeless service system and was able to contextualize the problem of wealth and income inequality in America,” McLaughlin said.

“As our first APPLES intern, Morgan witnessed the growing needs and capacity of the Partnership,” said Goryn. “She took the initiative to establish an ongoing volunteer and intern infrastructure for people to get involved with the organization in the future. By doing this, the Partnership will continue to benefit from the valuable work of other volunteers and interns that can bring talent, energy and community commitment similar to what Morgan brought this summer.”

Jesse White is passionate about public service

jessewhitephoto_206x315When I came to Carolina in January of 2003 I was immediately impressed with the spirit of public service that characterized our students and faculty. Soon I discovered a driving force behind this work, the Carolina Center for Public Service. I joined its advisory board and served until my retirement in early 2011. It was one of my best experiences at UNC.

This excitement with the Center’s work has its roots in my own lifelong commitment to government, politics and public service. I became a political scientist and spent my entire career in state and federal government, higher education and nonprofit management.

More than ever, we need our most talented young people to devote themselves to public service and to improving the common good. I find this commitment in the extraordinary students that I have met through the Center. But, few of them plan to run for public office, in part because of the divisive, even toxic, environment in political life.

However, the public sector has immense power to affect our future and the battlefield cannot be abandoned to the selfish, negative and short sighted. We need more of our best young leaders to consider seeking public office. That is why I increased my giving to the Center to create internships for our undergraduates with elected public officials, providing exposure to the real day to day work, issues and impact of being in public office. We placed four interns with public officials the first year and the response has been overwhelming from the interns and from the officials and staff with whom they work.

The Center cannot meet all of its existing needs or create other new opportunities for students without financial support, especially in light of declining state budgets. It is more important than ever for those of us who support the Center’s mission to step up and help financially. In my opinion, nothing less than our future is at stake. I ask you to join with me in supporting the Carolina Center for Public Service and investing in our future.

Jesse White