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2011.12.05 > For Immediate Release
contact: Charley Reed - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2129 - email: cdreed@unomaha.edu

Service Learning Academy Brings UNO, Ralston Students Together to Renovate Local Park

Omaha - Omaha – This Tuesday, Dec. 6, marks a major milestone for an urban revitalization project in Ralston as proposed changes to the city’s Oak Park site will be presented by students from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Ralston High School.

For the past three months, UNO students from Steve Rodie’s Landscape Plants class have teamed with Kelli Barth’s ninth grade honors biology students to plan a renovation of Ralston’s Oak Park, located at 79th and Q streets. The students will present their proposed changes from 4 – 6 p.m. at the Ralston City Council Chambers in Ralston City Hall, 5500 S. 77th St.

Currently, Oak Park consists of just a mulched trail and some outdated service buildings. When the semester began, the students from UNO and Ralston were tasked with identifying the types of plants needed to improve the park.

Throughout the Fall 2011 semester, both UNO and Ralston students traveled to Lauritzen Gardens and the Allwine Prairie to learn about plants, grasses and trees that thrive in Nebraska, with the goal of incorporating them into the park. Both UNO and Ralston students also visited the Oak Park site several months ago and taught each other what they had learned in their respective classrooms.

The city of Ralston will be using funds acquired from the Nebraska Environmental Trust and the Recreational Trails Grant to fund the renovations. Ultimately, the goal is to transform the park into an outdoor learning center.

The collaborative renovation project has been guided largely by UNO’s Service Learning Academy, in partnership with Building Bright Futures, as a P-16 Initiative project designed to connect curriculum lessons to community needs through the development of academic service learning experiences.

For more information, please contact Lucy Garza Westbrook, UNO Service Learning Academy, (402) 554.3055 or lgarza@unomaha.edu; Steve Rodie, UNL Professor of Horticulture at UNO, (402) 554.3752 or srodie@unomaha.edu; Kelli Barth, Ralston High School, (402) 331.7373 or Kelli_Barth@ralstonschools.org; Ron Murtaugh, City of Ralston, (402) 331.1786 or rmurtaugh@cityofralston.com.

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

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