Our immersive learning project in the Spring 2011 semester was a partnership between the students of the 433/533 Environmental Planning course, the Indiana Interchurch Center (IIC) at 42nd & Michigan in Indianapolis and the Indiana Wildlife Federation. Through our Immersive Learning Programs, Ball State matches students with real projects for real clients, to give students the opportunity to gain practical experience and develop critical job skills. We feel this helps to better prepare our graduates for future employment. The impact of the students’ project lasts beyond the experience itself and has a tangible result such as a creative work, business plan, or in this case, a master plan and site design for the IIC.
The students who took this course came from various departments on campus, such as Urban Planning, Landscape Architecture, Natural Resources and Environmental Management, and Architecture. They ranged in age from second year students up through graduate students. The entire class worked together, hand-in-hand with the IIC, to design and install a wildlife habitat which was certified by the Indiana Wildlife Federation in early August. The design included plants that were all native to Indiana that provide excellent food and shelter sources for wildlife. The students also produced a master plan for the IIC property to coordinate with their other sustainable projects such as building efficiency improvements and a solar panel demonstration installation. The master plan outlined additional sustainable site improvements the IIC can undertake in the future, such as a prairie planting, community garden, and contemplative garden, and also provided a budget for those future improvements and suggested opportunities to fund them, such as grants.
Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (KIB) donated a number of native trees for the site and Spence Restoration Nursery donated a large quantity of perennials for the bioswale. The tree donation was funded by a partnership that KIB formed with the Arbor Day Foundation called “Planting with a Purpose,” which seeks to help connect trees with spirituality. KIB worked with volunteers from the IIC to plant the trees and also loaned us the equipment to install all the plants. Planting Day was April 30th and was featured in both the Indianapolis Star and on Fox 59 Sunday Morning News.The installation will increase the amount of livable area in the City for native birds, insects, and mammals, as well as making the highly visible site more beautiful and environmentally sustainable.
For more information about this course, contact Lisa Dunaway.
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