Cultivating Connections: Students Sow Seeds of Service
1, uren Seganos ’1 Wetzel and La r for to na di or co e ic interfaith serv ad inistry office, lo the Campus M r he ot an at ples up a crate of ap n. io at er op g in farm
“A lot of Juniata students in our community are very interested in sustainable agriculture, organic farming and healthy eating, so it seemed that a service project based on the local farm community was a natural idea,” says Lauren Seganos ’11, an Americorps employee and interfaith service coordinator for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Campus Ministry Office. “The project also is an opportunity to learn about religious communities (the students) haven’t been exposed to.” The project, called “Planting Seeds,” visited three local farms in November to pick apples, clean up yards and barns and do other chores in the “Big Valley” area between Reedsville and Allensville. The office will reap the benefits of harvesting crops, gleaning produce in the fall and will repeat the cycle this spring, according to Grace Fala, special assistant to the president for diversity and inclusion. The Juniata project was hatched as a result of President Barack Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Challenge. Created by the White House Office 8
Heather Wetzel ’15, of Harrisbur g, Pa ., commun with a calf on on es e of the Mennoni te farms visited part of a servic as e project called Planting Seeds.
of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the program challenges colleges and universities across the country to create service programs that “have the ability to build social capital, strengthen social cohesion and address social problems.” “More than 150 colleges and universities are creating programs in response to the idea and this is just Juniata’s version of it,” explains Seganos. “We have almost a dozen students interested in participating and we have started recruiting among the College’s religiously oriented student clubs.” After each farm session, Seganos teaches a “reflective session” that asks the Juniata students to discuss their philosophical views on service and faith. “It’s a way to learn more about other religions, reflect on your own religious beliefs and build respect and common ground.”
se parents own the farm, Seganos and Sonia Yoder, who as par t of the Planting Seeds clean up some excess leaves ts a chance to interact with mission to give Juniata studen Mennonite faith. farming families of Amish and
Photos (left): Grace Fala; (right) Courtesy Ben Souders ’14
A handful of Amish and Mennonite farmers may find themselves with some extra help this year at harvest and planting time thanks to a new Juniata service project overseen by Americorps and the College’s Campus Ministry office.