During a year of isolation and focusing inward, a group of Indiana University Bloomington students helped foster new growth thanks to IU’s Hilltop Garden & Nature Center.
In 2020, IU Corps partnered with the Hilltop to create over 2,200 seed kits that were distributed at more than 30 schools in five different counties. The project began back in 2010 to help Hilltop to achieve its mission to provide free educational and recreational resources for youth gardening.
Hilltop manager Kaylie Scherer said she hopes participating kids become more interested in nature by planting the seeds and watching them grow. “This could lead them to someday pursue an IU degree in area such as biology, environmental
management, environmental science, earth science, or environmental and sustainability studies,” Scherer said.
In January of 2020, IU Corps hosted a booth at the Student Leadership & Winter Involvement Fair at which students could stop by and put together seed kits that Hilltop later distributed to area schools. The kits were funded by the Bloomington Garden Club and were prepared using plastic trays donated by Cook Medical.
Suzanne Allen, assistant director of IU Corps said IU students put together 300 packets of pea seeds for Hilltop in just two hours during the fair.
When the 2020 school year was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, local K-12 teachers sent the seed packets home with their students, who were then able to share the exciting experience of growing lettuce, peas, and kale with their families.
“It’s neat to think about parents and children sharing in the excitement of seeing the first seedling sprout from the soil, experiencing the delight of caring for plants, and reaping the rewards of their efforts by harvesting their vegetables to eat,” Scherer said.
Through the unpredictability of 2020, the seed kits from Hilltop Gardens gave local students and their families a reminder of resiliency, growth, and hope.
Amy Spence distributed the seed packets to her third graders at Lincoln Elementary in the North Lawrence Community Schools. In a thank you letter to Hilltop she wrote: “You have empowered thousands of children to grow their own food and care for living things and made life lessons easy for teachers to implement.”
Hilltop Garden offers a variety of opportunities for students, like you, to volunteer while making a difference in the lives of Indiana youth. To learn more about how you can volunteer with Hilltop, please email Kaylie at firstname.lastname@example.org today.