Troy University is known for giving back to the community, and one way is through service projects at Troy Elementary School (TES).
The University hosts an annual Week of Service on the TES campus, where students head to TES to do work around the school. However, the Office of Civic Engagement’s partnership with TES goes much deeper than just community service.
Lauren Cochran, the coordinator of the Office of Civic Engagement, says the partnership started in 2016 with an USDA grant to plant vegetable garden beds around the campus. There was a planting day that the elementary school students assisted with, which was in conjunction with their Dr. Seuss “Read Across America Week.”
In 2017, Lauren says they again used the USDA grant, but they did something a little different. While planting the beds in 2017, the students at the elementary school had an economics lesson. The students looked at how they might run a business if they were planting and selling these plants, and some of them even had the chance to sell their plants at a festival.
“[Troy] University has a really strong partnership with Troy Elementary, and [our office] just wants to be a part of that big story,” Cochran says about her office’s partnership with TES. She says that many departments on Troy University’s campus play a big role in staying involved with Troy Elementary School.
In the Spring of 2018, the Office of Civic Engagement moved vegetable garden beds to different locations, and they also added picnic tables to create outdoor classrooms for the students. The goal for this office is to make use of the extra space around the school and to create enjoyable locations for the elementary students to enjoy.
She also mentioned that while the elementary students are taking away great lessons and experience from the office’s work, Troy students have the same luxury. Troy University freshman Aubree Haying has volunteered with the Office of Civic Engagement to help with the projects around Troy Elementary.
Haying heads to TES every Thursday to assist the students, as well as practice her own teaching skills for her future career.
“I love working with Mrs. Lauren and the rest of the office at Troy Elementary School! I think it’s a wonderful way to teach kids how to garden and the importance of growing your own food. As an elementary education major at Troy, I have enjoyed the opportunity to help Mrs. Lauren out with the lessons,” Haying said.