University of Idaho Students Help Native Planting Program Grow its Roots

Monday, October 19 2009

Written by Alecia Hoene

MOSCOW, Idaho – When budgets are tight, how do universities increase educational opportunities for students and save money at the same time?

A collaboration between the University of Idaho Sustainability Center and the university Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance department is providing one answer to this question. The two programs have teamed up to develop a service-learning project for the UISC’s “Get Rooted” program where 80 students in a recreation class will revegetate the hillside west of the university's Facilities complex on campus.

On Oct. 29-30, students will plant native trees and shrubs along a north-facing slope that has suffered from erosion and construction damage in recent years. Anthony Davis, assistant professor in Forest Resources and director of the Center for Forest Nursery and Seedling Research, provided plants for the project. Pam Brunsfeld, manager of the university's Herbarium, helped select native species appropriate for the site.

HPERD students will provide a service to the campus – reducing runoff, restoring native habitat, mitigating carbon dioxide emissions and beautifying the campus landscape – that would otherwise require a substantial outlay of money. In turn, their classroom learning will be enriched by experiential education that bridges multiple disciplines.

“This is a great opportunity to bolster the information students are getting in class with real-world experience,” said instructor Helen Brown. “The HPERD 201 course introduces students to active, healthy sustainable living through a holistic perspective that includes the traditional topics of activity, nutrition and health along with environmental health and awareness, psychosocial issues and behavior change. We are moving out of the health and fitness box and increasing awareness and experience in issues of sustainable living.”

“Get Rooted”, a native habitats restoration program begun in spring 2009, is one component of a service-learning program under development at the UISC. Projects spearheaded by the UISC have already engaged more than 400 university students in activities that improve the sustainability of their campus and/or community.

“Service-learning is a great way to facilitate collaboration and mobilize volunteers for large-scale projects, resulting in cost-savings for the university and a more profound learning experience for students,” said Darin Saul, director of the UISC.

To learn more about this and other sustainability service-learning projects, contact Joe Nickles at the UISC at or (208) 885-0125.

As increasing environmental awareness drives interest in sustainable practices, the University of Idaho continues to seek carbon reduction initiatives to meet the current and future needs of society and to contribute to the quality of life and the natural resources in Idaho, the nation and the world. The University of Idaho emitted some 38,981 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in 2007, which is equal to 3.59 tons per student. The university has set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2030 and has begun the work to reduce carbon emissions across operations. For more information about the university’s sustainability efforts, contact the University of Idaho Sustainability Center at or visit  
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 130 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. For information, visit  

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit