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Grant Provides Biology Students Service Learning

Utilizing a $30,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation’s Fenn Educational Fund, Notre Dame College has created collaborative learning environments to better educate and prepare its ecology and environmental science students—and serve the community in the process.

The grant program, “Stewardship and Sustainability: Eco-Careers for the 21st Century,” has placed biology majors in research positions and internships with nonprofit organizations, including in education with the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, horticulture at the Shaker Country Club and environmental safety through the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, among others.

“This is a great opportunity for ecology and environmental science students not only to apply what they are learning in their courses, develop their skills and experience in the field and earn internship credit but also to do it in a way that benefits the community,” said Tracey Meilander, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology.

In addition to the formal internship experiences for class credit, students also have participated in course-related service learning activities throughout the school year. Meilander has arranged for class projects ranging from assessing the biodiversity of plants and animals to conducting water quality studies.

Six Notre Dame biology students even taught a Wonders of Water program to second- and third-graders at the University of Cleveland Preparatory School. The collaboration with the Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio and the Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-a-Beach program included classroom instruction and a field trip to Lake Erie’s Edgewater Park, where the College and elementary school students tested water samples, as well as removed litter.

The Fenn grant program at the College also has included career panels and networking events with professionals and alumni in ecology, environmental science and related fields. And it has featured professional development opportunities for faculty, as well as students, through the purchase of and training on geographic information systems software.

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Read how one of these ecology and environmental science students, Meaghan Wierzbic, has been inspired to pursue and already achieve some of her education and career goals at Notre Dame.