Part-Time students work to restore Chicago parks — and build a culture of community service
5/7/2010 - Kellogg Part-Time MBA students traversed the damp, muddy earth of Chicago’s Jackson Park on April 24 in search of their target — invasive plant growth that posed a threat to the park’s natural landscape.
Across town, their classmates crouched over sandy ground at Loyola Park to pull weeds as they worked with Chicago Park District staff and community members to restore the area.
Their efforts were a product of Kellogg’s Leadership Core Series, a set of academic workshops, feedback sessions and self-assessment exercises that are required of all first-quarter Part-Time students. The goal is to expose students to opportunities for leadership in a variety of settings — and to foster the school’s culture of collaboration and innovation.
Part-Time student Pamela Wyatt works to rid Jackson Park of invasive plant growth.
|Photo © Carlos J. Ortiz|
New this year is the community service component — a chance for new Part-Time students to roll up their sleeves and get to know one another as they work to improve the community.
“We wanted to provide an opportunity for these students to experience the core values of Kellogg — and one of the most important of those is social responsibility,” said Megan Krueger, assistant dean and director of student affairs for the Part-Time Program.
Student KR Shubha appreciated the opportunity. “It’s nice to see Kellogg’s involvement in the community,” she said.
At Jackson Park, the students were led by a Jackson Park Advisory Council member who explained the importance of their task. The group then fanned out across the terrain. Working slowly and quietly at first, careful to pull up only the correct plants, the students began to fill buckets and trash bags with the invasive growth. As the afternoon passed, conversations and friendships blossomed.
“It’s a great way to get to know one another,” said Pam Wyatt. “It’s a nice way to get out and contribute.”
Suk Shah agreed. He’d hoped the day would allow him to meet new people. “That’s happening,” Shah said, adding that he was glad to have a chance to help the community.
In that sense, the day fulfilled an important goal: to allow Kellogg Part-Time students to build friendships and expand their network. “We wanted the students to form a cohesive bond,” explained Kellogg student Matt Taylor, a co-organizer of the event. He hopes the experience will encourage the students to stay involved with the community throughout their time at Kellogg — and beyond. “We want to move volunteering from an activity to part of the culture,” said Taylor, vice president of community relations for the Part-Time Program.
Throughout the afternoon, the students continued to work together, climbing through the brush and removing the offending plants where they grew. At the end of the day, they boarded the bus back to Wieboldt Hall to reunite with the Loyola Park volunteers and reflect on their experiences. “We’ll definitely make this a tradition,” Taylor said.