Service learning benefits lab school, Tech students

Hands-on experience is a valuable learning component at Louisiana Tech, and Dr. Paul Jackson’s Landscape Design and Contracting class managed to learn, serve and experience that hands-on element all at the same time.

The 15 students in the PLSC 301 class presented their designs to the College of Education (COE) and the College of Applied and Natural Sciences for new landscaping beside the Boulware IDEA Place and A.E. Phillips Laboratory School.

“The students had a challenging task of creating a landscape with plants that would work well in the environment and climate and that also fit an educational theme reflected by the mission of the Boulware IDEA Place,” said Jackson, Norman and May Pipes Johnson Professor of Horticulture. “They did a great job being innovative, drawing the designs on paper, and presenting them to the faculty and administrators. I am proud of their hard work.”

Emily Kabbes, COE director of development, said Doug and Sandra Boulware funded the majority of the renovation to the Boulware IDEA Place. Collaborating with another program, she said, enhanced the learning experience of students.

“The presentations were wonderful,” Kabbes said. “We were all very impressed with the thought put into the students’ presentations. They took into account our needs and interests, such as making it beautiful, low maintenance, a learning opportunity for AEP students and an asset to our campus landscape. They were creative and unique. Some students focused on Louisiana plants, others took curriculum into account, and others included themes of diversity, inclusion and sustainability.”

Presentations were varied and creative, like using Japanese camelia petal sequences to learn about math and the colors of hydrangea leaves to identify soil pH, including the theme of edible plants and flowers in the landscape.

Funding for the landscaping project came from the Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association. Earlier in the summer, Kelsey Shoemaker, a senior in agricultural business/plant science, wrote a grant proposal to the LNLA as a class assignment with Jackson. They were awarded $3,500 to follow through with the project, while at the same time, training future landscape horticulturalists in the Landscape Design and Contracting class.

 Jackson said that the project is scheduled to be completed by the end of the fall quarter.

“The students spent the first few weeks of the quarter designing the space based on an educational theme,” he said. “Then they presented their designs to the COE staff, and they honed in on a design they liked for the space. The class will spend the last few lab periods of the quarter preparing the site for planting and then putting the selected plants in the ground.”

Dr. Don Schillinger, Dean of the COE, said the projects were all creative and will benefit the campus.

“We are very grateful to Dr. Jackson for his leadership and to his students for designing and planting high-quality landscaping that will complement the innovative design and function of the newly redesigned Boulware IDEA Place,” Schillinger said. “This collaboration between the College of Applied and Natural Sciences and the College of Education is one more example of the power of using interdisciplinary solutions to overcome challenges and advance our shared mission of engaging students in authentic and beneficial educational experiences.”