This quarter I am participating in a service-learning course, ENV 245 Urban and Community Agriculture. For courses like this one, there is an additional component that involves students fulfilling a set amount of work with a community organization or non-profit. Since this class in particular is centered around urban agriculture, most of my peers and I are working with urban farms or gardens throughout the Chicagoland area. I picked an urban farm called Just Roots located in Bronzeville, and I’ve been working with them for about four weeks now assisting with various projects and day-to-day tasks.
One of the reasons I have continuously chosen service-learning courses to fulfill my academic requirements over more traditional classes is because of the unique learning process that unfolds when classroom material is complemented by community engagement centered around the same topics. For example, last week my professor delivered a lecture on the barriers that many people face in order to gain food access. Once on the farm, Sean (one of the co-founders) began telling me about the reasons that the farm started and the issues it sought to address, including issues surrounding food access in the community.
Every time I take a service-learning course, I gain experience and knowledge that I would not have taken away simply from reading class material. Engaging with the class content in a hands-on way each week is a unique experience, and one that I’m thankful DePaul has offered me. If you’re thinking of taking a service-learning class but are unsure about the extra work or commitment, be assured it will be worth it in the end and you’ll come away from the quarter with an experience you would not have gained anywhere else.