The new Simpson Garden Park on Wintergarden Road in Bowling Green is being enhanced, thanks to BGSU students in construction management classes. Their work represents the first formal affiliation between a University academic department and an outside organization for the purpose of service-learning.
“This is a great partnership,” said Michelle Grigore, Parks and Recreation Department director. “The parks are in perpetual need of repairs and projects. If we can raise the money to provide the materials and they provide the labor, everyone benefits.”
A recent sunny afternoon found two crews of students in Kurt Hofmeister’s class hard at work assembling a gazebo and installing a retaining wall along a park path. “Hard hats on!” Hofmeister called to the students on the gazebo project as they prepared to lift and nail in the top pieces. As Hofmeister instructed them on the finer points of aligning and nailing the pieces in place, Drew Mosley, a senior from Marion majoring in technology education who will soon be teaching, said, “This is a helpful experience. This is the first time we’ve done this type of work.”
The collaboration is rewarding, say the participants. Over at the retaining wall, Andre Mack, sophomore from Detroit majoring in construction management, said, “I’ve always loved construction, and a hands-on activity is better learning. Plus this is an accomplishment that I can come back to at any time and say ‘I did that.’”
Hofmeister agreed. “In the lab we build floors, walls and sheds, but in the end we tear it all down.”
It’s also a helpful extension of the classroom learning environment. “With the parks, we can come out every semester. It’s ideal because we’re close by and it doesn’t interfere with anyone’s life. We can take as long as we need to get it right.”
At least one family appreciates the efforts. Local resident Jen Heffernan comes to Simpson Garden nearly every day with her young sons Owen and Gavin. “The boys enjoy it even more than the other parks. There’s so much to look at and do,” she said.
The partnership was the brainchild of Dr. Jane Rosser, director of BGSU’s Office of Service-Learning. She met last spring with Grigore; Travis Chapin, chair of construction management, and Hofmeister to design it. She and Grigore also met with their respective legal departments on the agreement.
“The College of Technology has invested a lot of time into building this new partnership,” Rosser said appreciatively. “This is a great example of engaging our students in hands-on learning in a way that will directly impact residents of and visitors to Bowling Green. It offers an ongoing and sustainable partnership for service-learning.”
Grigore is already thinking of the possibilities. “I’ve been talking with Kurt Hofmeister about putting in a boardwalk in the Bordner Meadow in Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve across the soggy part of a trail . . . and Needle Hall in City Park really needs some restoration.”
Looks as if the students have their work cut out for them.