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Aims Partners with the Loveland Youth Gardeners

Aims Community College partnered with Loveland Youth Gardeners during the 2021-2022 academic year. This project became a win for all involved. It cultivated a community partnership, provided much-needed features for a community garden and created a unique learning experience for Aims students.  

Plaque presentation at the Loveland Youth Gardeners, left to right Phong Tram, Jessica Morgan, and Megan Blaser.

This initiative is the brainchild of Phong Tram, Construction and Engineering Technology program coordinator and academic success coach. “I was sitting at home on a Sunday watching a television show on food insecurities and gardening. I began Googling what's around the Aims service area and came across Loveland Youth Gardeners. I thought it would be cool to have our students use the skills they've learned in the classroom and apply it to help a nonprofit.”  

Since 1996, Loveland Youth Gardeners has improved the lives of at-risk youth by building healthy relationships with people, agriculture, and the community. Last year, Loveland Youth Gardeners established a farm to provide hands-on agriculture experiences to young people. Aims students designed and built the following items for the new garden:

  • planter boxes (including wheelchair-accessible planters)  
  • picnic tables 
  • shelving inside an existing shed 
  • a plaque to recognize those involved 

This project aligned with Aims degree-specific learning outcomes and created an opportunity for students to make something to be used in the community. This included contributions from the following programs: Construction and Engineering Technology, Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Welding Technology and Industrial Technology

This type of project would be impossible without financial support from the Mildred Hansen Endowment Fund, which provided $6,500 for supplies. The total estimated value of the final project, including labor, is $25,000. The grant is administered through the Aims Foundation to give opportunities for projects that fall outside the college’s pre-approved budget to enhance the student experience and foster otherwise unavailable opportunities.  

Phong worked with Megan Blaser, program coordinator for Agricultural Sciences and Industrial Technology, on developing the project and obtaining grant funding. “I liked the idea, as it ties into many state, community and campus initiatives around work-based learning. We wanted to enhance the classroom experience by applying skills they are learning into meaningful tasks that they would be completing for a workplace,” Blaser said.  

The students can highlight these projects in portfolios to show desired industry experiences. The participating students included Abigail Adamo, Ben Bell, Skylar Brown, Dylan Corwin, Micah Godsey, Paul Hasty, Cody Heath, Cody Jones, Angela Kent, Jeff Klein and Andrew Mahoney. 

Computer-Aided Drafting student Paul Hasty said, “It is a great feeling to know that my efforts on this project will continue to benefit the community for many years to come.” 

Former Executive Director of the Loveland Youth Gardener Program, Jessica Morgan, said, “we expect over 500 youth and 100 adults to benefit from the planters, tables, and potting shed shelving this year and more in future years.” She continued to share, “Thanks to Aims Community College support, we can continue offering a safe, caring and nurturing place for youth to flourish. We are very proud of our work to positively impact the young people in Loveland and surrounding communities. Still, we simply could not do this without supporters like you! Each donation to our organization supports our mission to cultivate skills, stewardship and service in young people through sustainable gardening and healthy living practices.”

Overall, the project was a success for all involved. “This project was gratifying,” Blaser said. “We used resources to enhance our student experience. The team also integrated work-based learning initiatives to fill local community needs, specifically supporting underserved audiences.”