Community Education, with Pumpkins – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Community Education, with Pumpkins

This summer’s collaboration between Associate Professor of Education Mary Kelly and Hillside Children’s Center is starting to bear fruit — literally.

Based in Rochester and serving central and western New York, Hillside is a network of agencies that provide support for children and families with emotional, behavioral or life-circumstance challenges. In July, Hillside Children Center’s residential students from the Varick, N.Y.-campus, and their teacher, Chris Mumby, planted a patch of pumpkins with Kelly at the HWS Fribolin Farm. Since then, they have visited the farm twice a week to weed, water and care for their pumpkin crop, which is now beginning to bloom.

“We’ve really enjoyed having the Hillside students on campus in various collaborations, and when Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Kristen Brubaker reached out to faculty to encourage us to think about possible projects out at Fribolin Farm, I immediately thought of Hillside,” says Kelly.

For Hillside students, the off-campus component of their curriculum offers a chance to gain valuable work experience and “teaches them direction and teamwork,” says Mumby, who also leads a weekly volunteer outing to the Seneca County Meals on Wheels program. “Leaving campus helps to make it real.”

With most of their studies occurring on the Hillside campus, Mumby adds that the students’ collaboration with Kelly and HWS in the relaxing atmosphere at the farm is a boon for their intellectual, behavioral and emotional health.

HWS students enrolled in Kelly’s fall education course, “Transition and Disability: Life After High School,” anticipate further collaboration with Hillside students as part of a curricular service-learning project.

Meanwhile, one Hillside student who had never gardened before has embraced tending the pumpkins and watching them grow, while another, looking forward to the harvest this fall, is excited to carve jack-o-lanterns.