Archived: Community Garden: a first-year perspective (part three)

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Have you ever considered getting involved with the Community Garden or the SAMRU Sustainability Centre? We chatted with Stephanie Melville who completed her first year at MRU during the 2013-14 academic year, and learned a little bit more about why she got involved. Read part one here:, and part two here:, or keep reading for the final part of our interview.


Learning outside the classroom

Learning experiences outside of the classroom are a big part of the Community Garden and Sustainability Centre appeal. Stephanie will be heading into the second year of MRU’s Public Relations program in fall 2014, and hopes to work in Calgary’s oil and gas sector after graduation. She’s hoping that her experiences with SAMRU will give her an unexpected edge in her desired field of employment.

“There is lots of momentum and opportunity for change in Calgary” explained Stephanie, a well-thought-out response to a question she likely hears frequently from people who may not see the connection between the industry and her interest in sustainability. “I see a lot of opportunity for positive change from within”she added, commenting that a growing awareness of corporate social responsibility, community involvement, and green energy appeals to her. “A Public Relations person can be the middle person between the public and the organization” she summarized, adding that “I can help find the win-win”.

With a keen interest in Public Relations, Stephanie is also on the Community Garden Communications Team, one of many specialty teams within the garden to help students, volunteers, and other participants get the most out of the Community Garden experience. “I’m looking for the opportunity to get more writing experience”she commented, adding that her program has a 250 hour requirement, something she plans to accomplish through volunteer work. “Just volunteer once a week, and you’ll meet the requirements”she added. Melville hopes that experiences with the Sustainability Centre and the Community Garden will enhance her employability, illustrating not just in-class learning, but also applying what she learns outside of the classroom.

Lots of support for individual growth

Although Stephanie has opportunities through the centre and the garden to determine a lot of the kind of volunteer work she would like to do, there’s also a lot of support. Sustainability Centre Coordinator Alana-Dawn Eirikson “has been a good mentor” said Stephanie, adding that she’s been a valuable resource for volunteering experience, helping to facilitate and guide planning activities implemented by students, being a consistent resource, and a “great person to bounce ideas off of” for self-directed projects. Additionally in the Community Garden, Stephanie had praise for unofficial ‘garden mentor’ Julia Koziell, who encourages gardeners to harvest regularly and guides inexperienced gardeners needing support.

A great experience

Wrapping up my discussion with Stephanie, she stated “my first year has been awesome”, noting that access to the greenhouse, experience with the garden, and the chance to build upon her skillset outside of the classroom has been incredibly valuable.


You can learn more about the Community Garden and the Sustainability Centre on the SAMRU website:

If you’re interested in volunteer opportunities through SAMRU, visit:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

By Dawn Linnemoller, Editor & Content Coordinator, SAMRU