UCA Honors College students conduct service-learning projects in Mississippi

Students conduct garden care projects

Anna Weisenbach (left), Tamao Suzuki and Kobe Johnson were among Honors students who traveled to Mississippi to conduct projects related to food security and the ecosystem. Submitted by Honors at UCA.

Serving communities, promoting good citizenship and giving back is the thrust behind a trip for students of the University of Central Arkansas’ Honors at UCA program, who traveled to Biloxi, Mississippi, for several days of community-based, service-learning projects.  

Students in the Norbert O. Schedler Honors College joined the efforts of Community Collaborations International, an organization based in Mississippi that coordinates surrounding service groups to address community needs after hurricane damage and flooding. 

“Our big goal in Honors is for our students to be civically engaged citizens,” said Leah Horton, associate dean of the Honors College. “It’s important for UCA that our students recognize how to be active and involved. Sweat equity is a real thing, and there are many ways to be physically involved in a community.”

The group of students included sophomores, juniors, seniors and recent graduates from both the University Scholars Program and the Schedler Honors College

Service-learning and volunteerism is a central tenet for the Honors at UCA program which encourages stronger civic engagement among its students. Trips like these also expose students to leadership opportunities by allowing them more hands-on experiences. 

With this mission in mind, they first worked with the 34th Street Community Project, a nonprofit that uses a community garden to expand fresh food access and educational opportunities to those in need. 

Students took part in garden care by weeding and watering plants, including a selection of plants like paw paw bushes meant to introduce local residents to a wider diversity of food. Students also cared for newly-planted trees by applying wood mulch around the roots to avoid damage from weed eaters and lawn owners.

Secondly, students cleared and repaired a hiking trail with the Mississippi Land Trust Coastal Plain, which cares for the ecosystem affected by storm damage. The work included rebuilding boardwalks, constructing bug hotels and cutting vegetation. 

“The work really made them appreciate the resources that we have close to home and what we could be doing to help in our own backyard,” said Horton.

Below are the names and majors of students who participated in the trip: 


University Scholars Program students:

Lilly Daugherty ’22, psychology major

Harrison David, senior, history major

Emily Pearson ’22, history major

Stella Radke, senior, addiction studies major

Anna Weisenbach, sophomore,  health science major


Schedler Honors College students:

Kaylee Garrett, junior, nursing major

Cameron Heslip, senior, biology major

Kobe Johnson, senior, nursing major

K.T. Pearson, senior, French major

Abbie Rich ’22, public relations major

Tamao Suzuki, junior, film major

M.J. Wetzel, senior, environmental science major