Students plant trees to connect with communities

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By John Hoffman/MSU

“Green space” horticultural projects, community gardening and urban forestry programs remain very popular activities among St. Paul, MN neighborhoods and communities. Over the last several years, students, faculty and community members have traveled to the Red Lake Ojibwe Reservation to participate in a community development project that involves planting a variety of fruit-bearing apple trees (including FrostBite, Haralson, SnowSweet, and Honeycrisp).

Community members in the Red Lake area participate and help plant the trees which will produce healthy foods in the later years. The Community Center Project Director in Redby, MN, Mr. Eugene StandingCloud has also participated in the community project and nurtures the trees during the harsh winter months. From an academic perspective, the trees also provide a stronger sense of community connectedness and identity for community members, as determined through survey date and interviews after the trees have been planted.

Metropolitan State University students are provided with an opportunity to experience and participate in community development projects that provide opportunities of engagement and interaction with people from different cultures. A Pearson Correlation Analysis indicated a significant correlation between understanding the importance of Community Service Work (CSW) activities for all members and participation in future CSW activities.

Several of the participants indicated that the most rewarding aspect of the CSW project was in participating in a community-based program that was designed for members of the Red Lake Tribal Nation, and improving their understanding of health and nutrition for their family members. The majority of the participants (over 80%) indicated that the most rewarding aspect of their community service project was in working with and helping others, while also improving the community in which they lived.

Another fruit tree planting project is planned for June, 2018. If you are interested in participating, contact August Hoffman at: august.hoffman@metrostate.edu.