BY NANCY LIVINGSTON
The City of Maplewood has honored Century College biology students and Prof. Joy Cedarleaf for 10 years of service related to managing and caring for natural resources in an urban environment.
Over the years, Century students have provided over 4,500 hours of service on projects such as planting rain gardens, planting trees, removing buckthorn, weeding, seeding prairie, pruning, clearing trails and installing signs.
“It’s been good for the city, good for the environment and good for the students,” said Cedarleaf, who takes students into the community for service learning projects six to 10 times per semester. “Working in the field makes what students are learning in the classroom much more meaningful.”
For example, Cedarleaf noted that Maplewood is known for its leadership in the planting of rain gardens to clean and filter toxins out of rain water before it goes into the water table. Century students have helped plant the gardens and maintain them.
Maplewood is also known for purchasing land for open space, and Century students have helped remove invasive species such as buckthorn and oriental bittersweet from these areas so that young oak trees and other native species can grow.
Students say it is worthwhile to learn about activities that can immediately impact the local ecosystem. “Doing these projects makes class more interesting and interactive,” said Century student Deven Kelley of Stillwater. “ It helps us understand the importance of what we are learning in the classroom.”
Some students said the work has sparked their interest in pursuing careers related to natural resources and conservation. Century student Hannah Leeper said she is aiming for a career in forestry or wildlife. Ben Brown said he would like to work in fisheries.
Areas that have benefitted from the work of Century students include the Maplewood Nature Center, Joy Park, Edgerton Community Gardens, the Bruentrup Heritage Farm, the Priory Preserve, and the Fish Creek bluff area along Hwy. 61.
Nancy Livingston is director of community relations and college advancement for Century College. Joy Cedarleaf photo courtesy of Nancy Livingston. Outdoor photo courtesy of Joy Cedarleaf