Denison University Senior Honored As Ohio's Top Environmental Activist
Posted: January 17, 2001
GRANVILLE - A project to connect "at-risk" youth with a hands-on nature garden was the winning combination for Shannon Kishel, a Denison University senior environmental studies major, who was named as the recent winner of the Sara J. Mielke Memorial Award by the Ohio Environmental Council. The award recognizes outstanding achievement as a student an environmental activist and steward of the Earth. Guy Denny, board member of the OEC, presented the award at the organization's annual reception in Columbus. (Mielke, a young OEC staff member, died last year in a car crash as she returned from an Earth Day event at Bowling Green State University.)
Kishel, the daughter of Barb and Paul Kishel of Blake Hill Road, East Aurora, N.Y., organized the "Helping Hands: Garden of Hope" project as a community service program that diverts court-involved teens away from trouble and into tilling the Earth in an organic garden. In just two years, more than 50 youngsters logged more than 1,800 hours of work in the Helping Hands garden. "We at Juvenile Court are most proud of Shannon's accomplishments," said Judge Robert Hoover.
The teens are responsible for every facet of the garden, including organizing, planting, mulching, weeding, harvesting and problem-solving. The produce is distributed to a local food pantry, the Southside Food Pantry at the Old Country Church in Newark. It was the first time that fresh produce had been made available to the pantry. An average of three bushels of produce was donated weekly, including 100 green bell peppers, nearly 50 zucchini, and close to 10 bushels of tomatoes this past summer.
Kishel is recognized by Judge Robert Hoover and Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery for her "Helping Hands" project.
In developing the project, Kishel worked with the Licking County Juvenile Court, Ohio State University Extension Office, Southside Community Policing Center, the Old Country Church Food Pantry, the City of Newark Community Development office and the Center for Alternative Resources. Her objectives for the teens were to increase their awareness of environmental issues in the natural and built environment, to increase their knowledge of key environmental agriculture-related concepts, to develop lifelong skills and knowledge of action strategies, to create an effective learning environment emphasizing problem solving and critical thinking skills, to restore community trust and to donate fresh produce to those in need.
A Fulbright Scholarship applicant, Kishel is a '97 graduate of East Aurora High School and a consistent dean's list student at Denison. Awarded a full-tuition Faculty Scholarship for Achievement as an entering student, Kishel is a member of the Honors Program and was inducted into Phi Society, an honorary recognizing excellence in the freshman year. She also was awarded a Young Scholar summer research grant in 1999 for her project "Think Locally, Act Cautiously: Rethinking the Bumper Sticker Mentality in Proactive Environmental Change" which was supervised by her faculty adviser, Associate Professor Abram Kaplan, director of Denison's McPhail Center for Environmental Studies.
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