Students Partner with Elementary School on Harvest Share Buddies Program

A group of SUNY Oneonta students' community outreach project has helped educate an entire elementary school of children this semester on the basics of environmental sustainability and stewardship.

Through the college's Harvest Share Buddies service learning initiative, biology and sociology students spent time in 12 different classrooms at Riverside Elementary School in Oneonta, teaching children about food, the environment and plant biology. In their assigned K-5 classrooms, SUNY Oneonta students presented weekly interactive lessons and got to know the children.

Concepts literally came to life for the kids, as vegetable grow boxes were built and installed in the classrooms, giving students a firsthand look at where food comes from. Students grew tomatoes, lettuce and a variety of herbs and spices. When full-grown, the ingredients will be harvested and used to make pizza for the children.

This is the second year of the program, which is organized by Assistant Professor of Biology Sean Robinson and Associate Professor of Sociology Greg Fulkerson.

On the last visit of the semester, fourth graders in one classroom recalled all they had learned from the SUNY Oneonta students and brainstormed ways to help "reduce, reuse and recycle." Takeaways included riding a bike instead of driving, not polluting, starting a compost pile, shopping local and growing food at home.

Third-grade teacher Jacqueline Scanlon said her pupils loved having the college students come in each week.

"We called them our SUNY friends, and whenever it was time for a visit, their eyes would light up," Scanlon said. "It's great for these kids to meet the college students and gain a mentor of sorts, and it's also something I appreciate because, with pressures on curriculum, this is a topic we don't often get to talk about. But it's so needed!"

To view these students click here: