For 10 weeks this summer, 11 Shi Center Fellows devoted their time and energy to a host of different projects related to sustainability, both on the University campus and in the community. They were part of an annual student fellowship program to which any Furman students, including May graduates, are eligible to apply. The paid fellowships require full-time work and run from mid-May to mid-August.
Kelly Grant Purvis, assistant director of the Shi Center, coordinates the fellowship program and oversees the summer projects for each student. She establishes new partnerships and fosters existing ones with area organizations, publicizes the fellowships on campus, reviews the student applications, and works with the participating organizations to pair individual students with projects that best fit their interests and skills. She also maintains regular contact with the host organization supervisors and the students to ensure a mutually beneficial working relationship for both parties.
The projects were as diverse as working in the Furman Farm garden, building a geo database for every tree planted in the community by Trees Greenville, and developing conservation education programs at the Greenville Zoo. Joe Hiebert ’18 had the responsibility of gathering assessment data for Furman’s participation in the Sustainability, Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS) developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. “This fellowship has taught me what type of data is necessary to collect for a greenhouse-gas inventory, and has opened my eyes to new sustainability metrics,” Hiebert notes.
Celia Castellano ’19 served as the social media manager and content developer for the upcoming Feed & Seed, a working farm, and soon to be market, café, and distribution hub for local food based in downtown Greenville. “During my fellowship, I met the wonderful farmers, restaurant owners, and small-business owners who are all working feverishly to educate everyone about the importance of local food,” says Castellano. “I’ve learned so much about the Upstate’s food scene through this experience, and I can’t wait to share my knowledge with the rest of my Furman friends when school starts again.”
Despite the sweltering heat this summer, Mary Stone, a biology major who graduated in May, worked outside supervising at-risk teens tending produce in the gardens of Mill Village Farms. Lauren Prunkl ’18 served as the crew team leader for the Village Wrench program, another Mill Village effort, which builds community and teaches responsibility through bicycle repair. She lived off-campus for the summer in housing provided by Mill Village Ministries. “Living and working in West Greenville allowed me to connect with community members,” says Lauren. Her favorite part was getting to know the youth as she worked beside them every day. “Each teen has something special to offer,” she observes. “This opportunity gives them a chance to grow and develop new skills, and it has been exciting to see that happen.”
“The Shi Center Summer Fellowship Program allows student to gain real-world work experience during their 10-week Fellowship,” states Purvis. “They go out into the community and work with local organizations to achieve a specific goal that works in concert with the goals of the organization. They make valuable community connections and learn essential and highly marketable job skills.”
It may read like a handful of small-scale projects, but all those individual efforts add up to big achievements in the community.
Learn more about the Shi Center for Sustainability.