Hello Again! As a LEAGUE VISTA, my primary mission has been to deepen the level of service-learning impact within our existing teacher network, as well as to increase the participation level of Battle Creek educators. To fulfill this mission, I have been providing training and support to teachers in order to develop student projects that mobilize student volunteers and resources to local nonprofit agencies, with the goal of addressing the reduction of poverty and other needs in the local community. Most of my time has been spent in the schools, working directly with teachers and students.
By far, the most rewarding thing about my VISTA year has been witnessing a project end in success after months of planning. The last project that I was a part of was one that I began planning in September and finally ended in early June. This project involved two first-grade classes installing a butterfly garden at a local community center. Many community partners collaborated on the project, including Marian E. Burch Adult Daycare, The Monarch Watch, and The Kalamazoo Area Wild Ones Chapter. A Monarch Butterfly garden is a garden with specific native nectar and milkweed plants. The continued destruction of the Monarch habitat has posed a grave threat to the Monarch population. The first grade students learned about the life cycle of the Monarchs as well as threats to the species and then applied their lessons to planning the garden. Monarchs require specific nectar plants for food and will only lay their eggs on milkweed plants. By planting this garden, the class has beautified a community space and made a significant ecological contribution.
The last school in my cohort ended the school year last Thursday, June 18, which means I have a new challenge: keeping busy during the summer. Fortunately, I will not be too bored because there is plenty to do around my office at the local United Way. These summer tasks will primarily involve deepening the sustainability of the program so that the next VISTAs will be well-prepared to carry on the work. Tasks such as creating project files, updating contact information, updating the Legacy Binder and much more will be my focus for the next two months. Plus, there are still a few big LEAGUE events such as Youth Philanthropy Camp in July and Fisher Training in August that will surely keep me occupied.
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!