Teaching Students to Become Sustainability Advocates
Through its approximately 1,000 student volunteers, the Johnson Center for Civic Engagement aims to make a difference in our community and around the world.
Students are learning to address social issues and understand community needs, which fits perfectly with the three pillars of sustainability: environmental, economic and social equity.
This past February, Susquehanna and the JCCE hosted 80 guests from around the region, including university faculty, staff and students; nonprofit organization leaders; and community gardeners. The event was the second annual Sowing Change conference. This ongoing initiative, co-organized with Bucknell University's Office of Civic Engagement and sponsored by Pennsylvania Campus Compact, aims to develop a network of community and campus gardens that seek to:
- share and expand knowledge of sustainable growing practices and nutritious food;
- strengthen food access in the region, and
- create opportunities for connecting people through food.
Sowing Change is one example of the many ways that the JCCE is working to build understanding and awareness about food security and promote sustainable food systems for better access in Central Pennsylvania and beyond.
I'm happy to report that this initiative originated from a strong student-led interest in these topics that has gained speed over the years. From 2014-2016, the JCCE's AmeriCorps VISTA project focused on creating lasting partnerships between Susquehanna's then-developing campus garden and community organizations that support low-income individuals. Thanks to this initiative, our garden now donates 100 percent of its produce to the community. With its recent doubling in size, we're excited to expand our partnerships and reach throughout the community.