SGA and Farmshed Provide Students Hands-On Experience Opportunities
Brian Luedtke
blued692@uwsp.edu
Thanks to funding from the UWSP Student Government Association, Central Rivers Farmshed is able to offer a handful of paid positions for assistance establishing The Greenhouse Project. The positions include such titles as volunteer coordinator, website developer and content manager and compost assistant.
 
Sam Dvorak, environmental and sustainability issues director and Biology major, attended a tour of Sorenson's Greenhouse last fall when The Greenhouse Project was beginning.
 
“We were immediately like, ‘This has to happen, that is so cool!’ And then we asked ourselves, ‘How can SGA fit into that role, or help make that happen?’” Dvorak said. Dvorak met with several of his peers and the process began.
 
Funding became available when UWSP pulled out of the NatureWise program with Wisconsin Public Services, which put all of the pieces to the puzzle together. Several months later, a handful of positions have been created, and the capacity to support those positions is available.
 
Farmshed's focus is developing and building the regional food system here in Central Wisconsin. To accomplish this, involving the whole community, including UWSP students, is critical to their success.
 
“The students will be able to help us see and really understand what steps are necessary, and who we should begin to contact and how to develop this right on-site at the greenhouse,” said Layne Cozzolino, executive director of the Central Rivers Farmshed.
 
“I hope to gain experience working with this type of project which is, for one, inspirational and two, it is innovative. I would also like to get the opportunity to be a part of it because I think this is a great project and I would love to know that my effort and my time is being dedicated to it.” Amberle Severson, senior water resources and spanish major, said.
 
UWSP, Farmshed and the community of Stevens Point all stand to benefit from the success of The Greenhouse Project. Whether it is economically, from agritourism and the strengthening of the local food economy, a selling point for UWSP is the invaluable experience for students.
 
Interested students have an amazing chance to benefit from the project through experiences gained at the greenhouse, workshops, educational events, volunteering, touring or paid positions.
 
“Our students get a great opportunity; it will make us more marketable and visible to everybody else,” Dvorak said.
 
And it is not just Biology or Natural Resources students who will benefit. Economics and Art majors will have opportunities to get involved as well through business development, marketing and advertising and interior design.
 
Students will be able to leave a lasting impact on the community and take the ideas, concepts and experiences gained wherever they may go. As the local food movement expands, people with these types of skills and experiences may be highly sought after.
 
But it is the idea behind the positions at The Greenhouse Project that is much greater.
 
“One of the things that we have to look at is building capacity for the community. So, we have some people, say, that want to start a composting business or an aquaponics business. How can we help incubate them?  Making it not just a job, but something that is really going to benefit them in the future. And that is really what this whole thing is about,” Cozzolino said.
 
To find out more about The Greenhouse Project and Farmshed, or to get involved, visit www.Farmshed.org.