Dennis Lab School Garden

Kayce Fuentes, Staff Writer

Recently, the Dennis Lab School Garden was honored with the Preservation award. Decatur’s Historic and Architectural Site Commission presented the award for a great improvement in the use of the land. The award was presented on Jan. 20 during a City Council meeting at the Decatur Civic Center.

Millikin University and Dennis School have had a partnership for four years now, and the garden is one of many benefits of it. The partnership is aimed at having a university-affiliated lab school to provide real-world learning for Dennis students and Millikin education majors.

The garden was set up by Dennis and Millikin Students, one Millikin student, Savannah Riestenberg, who involved in the project, said,“I worked in the garden a few times on a couple different tasks that I found out about through the career center. I spent a couple days there working on the earth shed and once or twice tending the garden.”

Riestenberg then commented on what working on the garden was like. She said, “When I was working on the actual garden it was with families from the school and it was a really great experience. I loved seeing the students getting excited about the various tasks (raking, weeding, etc.) that we were doing and they were very comfortable working alongside the college students that were there.”

When asked about how the garden improves the Decatur community Riestenberg said, “I think the garden is great for the Dennis school community. It gives the children a way to understand nature and science in a more hands-on way that might not be available to them at home.” She then added that in the future she hopes to see the following, “I think it’s doing great, the only addition could be maybe some different kinds of gardening (trees, corn, something else fun) so the kids can understand how that all works too.”

The garden is funded mainly by the PNC Foundation, which provided $20,000 in June 2013 to help start the garden. The foundation receives its funding from PNC Financial Services Group (NYSE:PNC). The foundation supports projects like the garden that benefit communities significantly. It’s philanthropic mission spotlights community, economic development and early childhood education.

Dr. Nan Gaylen, director of Millikin University’s School of Education, said, “The Garden Project is such a visible example of how Dennis School’s project-based Learning and Millikin University’s Performance Learning come together to create real and tangible change. The Garden Project teaches all of us how a vision and a goal can become a beneficial asset to all community members.”