PNC Student Creates Healthy Garden With Valparaiso YMCA

pcn student pictures

When Purdue University North Central student Kelly Salyer learned that the Valparaiso Family YMCA longed to have a “Green Thumb” healthy garden that would be the centerpiece of a program to promote children’s healthy eating habits, she dedicated herself to making the garden a reality.
It was an easy decision for Salyer to create the garden as a service learning project for her Child, Family, School & Community Partnerships course. Her commitment was so strong that she applied for and received a Community Service Mini-Grant from Indiana Campus Compact, to help fund the project. Indiana Campus Compact supports higher education’s efforts to develop students into well-informed, engaged citizens. The Lilly Endowment Inc. has generously provided funding for the Indiana Campus Compact Community Service Mini-Grant.

Salyer, an Early Childhood Education major from Westville,  spent hours of her own time to working with Laura Weaver, PNC Service Learning coordinator, and Carla Patino-Davis, Valparaiso Family YMCA Child Care administrative assistant of Child Care, to research, write and fine-tune her grant application.

Her interest in the healthy garden project began when she was a volunteer at the YMCA during the fall semester.  YMCA personnel explained to her that a healthy garden would provide an ideal opportunity for the youngsters for Valparaiso Family YMCA Child Care program to learn how to grow fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers while establishing healthy eating habits.

Planting for the garden began on Earth Day, April 22.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for children to explore and nurture the value of creating green space in their community,” said Bob Wanek, CEO of the Valparaiso Family YMCA. “The Y deeply appreciates the talents of Kelly Salyer in securing this grant.”

Children taking part in various YMCA programs are already looking forward to the garden. Andrew Jackson, a student in the All Day Preschool class, said to his mother Jodi Jackson, “Guess what Mom? My teacher told me we are going to grow vegetables in our garden and we will be able to eat them later!”

A key component of the grant application was for Salyer to recruit student volunteers from other colleges. She has already enlisted support from students at Valparaiso University and Ivy Tech Community College.

The YMCA staff and clients are happily watching the project move forward. Patino-Davis said, “The Y child care department is very grateful for Dr. Mary Jane Eisenhauer (PNC assistant professor of Early Childhood Education), Kelly Salyer, and Laura Weaver for their continuous hard work and dedication to the Valparaiso Family YMCA Child Care Program.  Another big thank you goes to Mark Bluell, Y Team Volunteer Garden Leader, for building the raised garden plots. He will also be providing his knowledge and skills with all of us.”

The PNC Child, Family, School & Community Partnerships course emphasizes the interconnectedness of the different aspects within a child’s world that influence their development. PNC students in this course are required to work with a community agency through a service-learning project to gain first-hand experience interacting with teachers, administrators, child care providers and community members.

At the YMCA, Salyer has served in a child care classroom. Taking on the garden project has given her the opportunity to work with other volunteers and community members.

Interestingly, Salyer was a kindergarten student of Debra Pratt, PNC continuing lecturer of Education, back when Pratt taught at Westville Elementary School.

The Early Childhood Education program at PNC is committed to providing its students with quality service learning opportunities such as the one the Salyer is involved with at the Valparaiso Family YMCA. The commitment to giving back to one’s community can begin anytime and Salyer is helping to foster this commitment in the young children she interacts with.

“We can see the effects of high quality early childhood – Kelly is now enrolled in college and active in her community,” said Eisenhauer, who teaches the Child, Family, School & Community Partnerships course. “When she enrolled in the course, Kelly knew exactly where she wanted to be to fulfill the service-learning requirement: the Valparaiso Family YMCA.

PNC Announces Hyde Park Forum Speak-Off Winners

The 30th Purdue University North Central Hyde Park Forum Public Speaking Contest concluded with Ben Vernosky of Valparaiso, being named winner of the “Speak-Off” competition.

The Hyde Park Forum brings together PNC students who present short speeches on various topics of current interest. Many participants are students in PNC’s Communication 114 class.

Speak-Off winner Vernosky gave the speech “Exercise to Good Health.” Second place went to Emily Vates, of DeMotte, who shared the message “Helping Survivors at PNC.” In third place was Rachel Klingensmith, of Portage, with “Be a Specter Detector.” Fourth place went to Diana Welch, of Valparaiso, with” Are you Ready?” and in fifth place was Tyler Vargas, of Hebron, presenting, “War’s Unfair Formula.”

Overall second place Hyde Park Forum winners were – Jake Gesse, Valparaiso, with “Why pancakes are the best;” Tyler Durfey,  North Judson, with “That Which Can’t Be Seen;” Cortney McIntosh, LaPorte, with “Drug Tests for Food Stamps;” Maria Elena Miller,  Michigan City, with “TV Does Not Create Violence;” and Davis Reardon, Westville, “The Benefits of Optimism.”

Overall third place Hyde Park Forum winners were – Monica Hodge, Hobart, with “Suicide Awareness & Prevention;” Aaron M. Landrum, Chesterton, “War on Apathy;” Jessica Sturdy, Union Mills, “Dangers of Smokeless Tobacco;” Hannah Vallangeon, Porter, with “Benefits of Honey;” and Victoria Simms, Chesterton, with “Stand Against Sex Trafficking,”

The Hyde Park Forum and Speak-Off are loosely based on London’s Hyde Park, a public gathering place for speakers who wish to state their minds. Hyde Park has gained prominence as a reference to freedom of speech and intriguing speaking.

Updated and Improved Saturday MBA Program

The Purdue North Central University Saturday MBA program has been updated and improved using input received from faculty, students and graduates during the past few years. As a result, the program will better suit the needs of students and will streamline operations. Students will experience the improved MBA program when fall semester classes begin in September.

“Members of our faculty have worked collaboratively to combine the most effective elements of the program with improvements suggested by the students,” said Dr. Cynthia Roberts, director of the Program, and interim dean of the College of Business.

Roberts explained that the program includes an intensive introductory foundation for all students regardless of background, followed by a series of core courses common to many of the MBAs offered in the Purdue system.  As a final point, the new design includes space for students to pursue a concentration in an area such as accounting, economics, marketing, human resources, and/or leadership.

The students are still accepted once per year and start the program as a cohort each September.  And, as in the former program, courses are completed in ten-week modules, meeting on Saturdays throughout the year.  The new program, however, is based on 42 credit hours for all students regardless of academic background and allows the students to complete the program in less than two years.

“MBA program graduates have expressed how valuable the cohort experience is in facilitating the development of friendships, study groups and professional networks that extend well past completion of coursework,” said Roberts. “The program, although locally based in Porter County, extends the network to a global platform as students and faculty hail from throughout the world.  The program has had representation from countries including Brazil, China, Croatia, Egypt, Jordan, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, Sierra Leone, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine.”

Students also participate in a leadership group that serves to further develop the social network, support service projects in the area and provide feedback to program administration related to curriculum and operations.