Wright State University is graduating its very first citizen scholar this June. The citizen scholar program was designed by the WSU Office of Service Learning and supports WSU's mission to "engage in significant community service." Students in the program complete multiple service-learning courses throughout their college careers. You can read more about it if you click on the link above. Yesterday, Tara Purvis, a social work major, presented her capstone research project about a gardening program in a juvenile rehabilitation center. The program was implemented in 2009, and evaluated in 2010. Through gathering quantitative and qualitative research through surveys and interviews, Purvis discovered that gardening promoted positive self-concepts among the youth at the Miami Valley Juvenile Rehabilitation Center (MVJRC). She also discovered that gardening promoted emotional and behavioral management among the youth. The community partner staff at MVJRC were thrilled to benefit from the student's work. The youth expressed gratitude for the "calming" effect or gardening, and some even made the connection that they could possibly translate their gardening experience into a career in landscaping. While the youth who participated benefited from gardening, the center was also able to donate 960 pounds of food to the local community. One of the recommendations Purvis made to MVJRC for future research was to include families in the gardening activities in a family therapy session, so the therapists can observe family dynamics and communication. This would also give the families a positive experience with pro-social behaviors. Purvis noted that there is a gap in the literature about prisons and gardening. She also shared that she learned a lot about the center's philosophy - which is the Circle of Courage Philosophy. The stages include: belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. Purvis' research will be published in the fall. Now, if I may put a librarian spin on it - for the purposes of this blog - can you imagine what kind of unique research needs this kind of project may have required? If the student working on this project had approached the reference desk, what might she have needed? For this particular project, the literature review may not have been terribly challenging - but for some other service-learning experiences, the research needs of the patrons may be unique. For example, when I assisted a composition course at WSU who was working with an upstart community partner (namely, our campus food pantry, the Friendship Food Pantry) - students were responsible for finding some elusive information. There isn't much published about campus food pantries aside from news stories. And information that would have been helpful to answer the students' research questions just isn't available or published, such as: How many WSU students receive food assistance/food stamps? This is when I discovered I would have to think creatively about what kind of information students could find that would be relevant to answer their research questions.