USD students assist in Gifford Park revitalization project

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Six students from The University of South Dakota volunteered their time mulching, painting, picking weeds, picking up litter, and readying garden beds for spring planting in an effort to help revitalize the Gifford Park neighborhood in Omaha, Neb.

This was the fourth trip sponsored by the Center for Academic Engagement at The U to Gifford Park in the past two years. Through these activities and interactions with local volunteers, students learned about neighborhood gardens and what it takes for a community to be successful. Gifford Park, located in an historic, midtown section of Omaha, has an active neighborhood association committed to preservation and protection of the area.

"It was a very humbling and educating experience for me. It opened my eyes to the closeness of a community," said Maryanne Stangl, a USD student from Aberdeen, S.D. "When you come from a bigger city you would expect to not know your neighbors, but this is not the case within this community."

In addition to Stangl, USD students involved with the volunteer effort included Aaron Fox of Chamberlin, S.D.; Corrie Hendricks of Sioux City, Iowa; Zach Niemann of Rapid City, S.D.; Jennifer Thomas of Whiting, Iowa; and Amy Weidenbach of Parkston, S.D. The group was led by Brian Moehnke, an Americorps VISTA from the Corporation for National & Community Service.