Earn natural academic credit: Merry Lea offers land stewardship options

Earn natural academic credit: Merry Lea offers land stewardship options

Camry Hess (left) and Jeremy Good get their hands dirty at Merry Lea, Goshen College's environmentally friendly center.  Photo contributed by Dale Hess.

Camry Hess (left) and Jeremy Good get their hands dirty at Merry Lea, Goshen College's environmentally friendly center. Photo contributed by Dale Hess.

Dale Hess
dhess@goshen.edu
Ryan Sensenig
rlsensenig@goshen.edu

Two recent Record articles explored Goshen College’s decision not to accept Heifer International’s donation of a nine-acre farm a few miles south of the college.

Tyler Falk, a senior, in his news article “Sustainable farm unsustainable for college budget,” describes the process the college went through before deciding to pass on the gift (Feb. 5 issue). Clayton Matthews, a sophomore, laments the loss of the opportunity to tend sheep and cows and grow healthy produce (Feb. 19 issue).

We are delighted with the student interest in issues of food and sustainability and affirm the desire among students to engage in “living out” these aspirations. The purpose of this article is to invite the “Claytons” out there to participate in similar opportunities currently available at Goshen College’s biological field station at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center.

Recent new staff hires have permitted the development of novel collegiate programs: e.g, the undergraduate Agroecology Summer Intensive and the graduate program in environmental education. Merry Lea, a natural sanctuary within an agricultural landscape, is a prime location for experiential learning in sustainable agriculture.

Each summer students from Goshen College and other colleges and universities move to Rieth Village for a nine-week period where they:

– study the guiding principles of agroecology

– celebrate the act of growing their own food

– interact with agroecology practitioners and professionals

– explore Merry Lea’s wetlands, woodlands and prairies

– earn 12 academic credits

Come join us in helping to create a small-scale, diversified farm with the vision of engaging both the local community and the college community. If you are unable to participate in the nine-week summer program, we are actively seeking May Term student interns who can live at Merry Lea to help in starting plants, preparing garden plots and planting gardens that will serve in Merry Lea’s summer and fall programs.

We invite you to diversify your experience by making Merry Lea part of your learning environment. There is so much to discover. And perhaps, eventually, even a few sheep and cows to tend!

For more information visit the Merry Lea Web site at http://www.goshen.edu/merrylea/

Dale Hess is a professor of agroecology
Ryan Sensenig is the environmental science program director and assistant professor of biology

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