Saturday, July 18, 2009

Local Upward Bound Youths Volunteer at Stoddart Avenue Community Garden

Yesterday, a group of college-bound high school students from The Ohio State University’s Upward Bound Program stopped by in the afternoon (just as a downpour began) to volunteer to weed, dig up and spread mulch, and build another storage bin for the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden. The youths are students from East, Briggs and Walnut Ridge High Schools. Although some of the teens were acquainted with gardening from their parents’ backyard gardens, a few had never seen food “in the wild” or outside a grocery store.

After I explained to them (while we waited on the bus for the rain to stop) how the Garden was formed, the group was given a tour of the Garden. The youths were split into three teams. Team 1 did an excellent and speedy job of weeding the east-side flower beds and making substantial progress on weeding the row of raspberry bushes on the south side of the Garden. Team 2 made a substantial dent in weeding the Garden pathways (particularly in front of my plot and in the front gateway area). Team 3 excelled at digging up the wood chips from where they were dumped in April and replenishing the mulch along the front flower beds and in the front gateway area. Team 3 also discovered a small garter snake and found it a new home and helped construct from our recycled pallet collection a new storage bin for wood chips (or possibly another compost bin since our first two bins are now full).

Gardener Jeannie (or Ms. J as she was known by the youths) stopped by and helped us finish the storage bin. After the teens left, Ms. J also helped me transplant Shasta daisy, Gloriosa daisy and coneflower seedlings into the front flower bed. (Alysha already planted some blanket flower seedlings last week). Rayna stopped by to work on her plot and was so inspired by all of the afternoon’s work and weeding that she ran to Lowe’s to get $.50 marigold six-packs to plant around the front scarecrow. Dwain stopped by while the youths were there and loaned his shovel to Team 3.

We are extremely grateful to the teens and their two leaders who helped us on Friday afternoon. I was particularly pleased that the day ended so well because it wasn't always clear it would end that way. When I arrived, Columbia Gas was already there and had dug a a huge pit in Cherry Street to plug a gas leak in the alley right next to the Plot of the Unknown Gardener. I had to twice move my car to accommodate their vehicles. Then, it began raining cats and dogs as soon as the OSU bus pulled onto Stoddart Avenue. However, as the Bard put it: All's Well That Ends Well. The rain actually made the weeding easier.

OSU’s Upward Bound Program has been around a while. It has been federally funded since 1965. As explained on the OSU website:

Upward Bound offers students the opportunity to excel in not only high school, but also in college and beyond. By accepting students into the program in their 9th or 10th grade year in high school, the Upward Bound Program lays a strong foundation in preparing them for college. Mathematics, Science, Language Arts, and Foreign Language classes are taught and provide academic enrichment for students. Additionally, students take an enrichment course that focuses on topics such as Financial Aid/Scholarships, Preparing an Academic Resume, Choosing a Major/Career, ACT/SAT Preparation, and Study Skills. The enrichment course also focuses on other life skills topics such as Managing Relationships, Etiquette, and Leadership.

The mission of The Ohio State University Upward Bound Program is to instill and foster the necessary skills, talents and motivation needed for each participant to successfully graduate from high school, enroll in and complete their post secondary education. Each student will be encouraged to take full advantage of their Upward Bound experience while continuously improving their level of preparation for the next stage in their academic career. The Upward Bound Program is intentionally designed to empower students to take a proactive role in their education and excel far beyond their idealized potential.

Beyond, having the opportunity to partake in a positive, motivating, college focused environment, members of The Ohio State University Upward Bound Program family receive intensive year round academic preparation, tutoring services, and test preparation for the Ohio Graduation Test, ACT and SAT. Furthermore, students are afforded the opportunity to participate in college/cultural tours and personal/career development activities and workshops during Saturday Academy sessions and the Upward Bound Summer Institute.

In addition to services provided to students, The Ohio State University Upward Bound Parent Association (UBPA) serves as a venue in which parents are provided the opportunity to learn more about the critical steps needed for their children to successfully graduate from high school, enroll in and graduate from college. The UBPA also enables parents to network, find support, and provide assistance for one another as their children successfully transition to college.

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