Members of the Alpha Zeta Theta Chapter recently attended the New England Regional PTK Conference in Concord, New Hampshire. Quinsigamond Community College PTK President Kimberly May, Vice President of Leadership Ethan O’Connell and lead faculty advisor Bonnie Coleman attended the event. The chapter received many outstanding awards, which included:
- Honors in Action Most Distinguished Chapter
- Most Distinguished Chapter in New England Region (56 chapters)
- College Project Award – Most Distinguished
- Honors in Action Distinguished Theme Award – Theme 7 Innovation and Replication
“This was a team effort and without the support of our QCC Family this would not have happened,” said Ms. Coleman.
The College Project recognized was the Live & Learn Greenhouse Project on the QCC campus. Ms. Coleman said construction will be underway this spring, and they hope to have the greenhouse up and running in May, depending on the weather.
A $16,500 grant will partially fund the greenhouse, where students will grow vegetables and plants. Ms. Coleman said they plan to start with herbs, cucumbers and tomatoes and then add new items each season. There also will be a “Plant A Seed’ project with the Early Childhood Education program, where children can come in to plant a seed and watch it grow.
PTK is accepting donations of pots, potting soil, seeds, shelving, lighting or cash donations. The students will be working with a botanist, who is a part-time faculty member, to learn more about the process.
The mission of the Live & Learn Greenhouse Project is to renew connections between people and the natural environment, create a resource of healthy, nutrient-rich food for the Quinsigamond Community College community, and provide an educational resource for students, faculty, staff, and children.
Different students and programs will be able to use the greenhouse and learn more about various growing methods, such as hydroponics, to raise awareness about the natural environment. Plans are to start construction soon and then in spring 2017 bring on faculty that want to be involved.
The idea came about because of food insecurity on campus. According to Higher Education Today, many college students struggle with food insecurity. This can be especially true at community colleges, where many students are non-traditional age. Feeding America, a national nonprofit network of food banks that provides food assistance to 46.5 million individuals and 15.5 million households, estimates that nearly half (49.3 percent) of its clients in college must choose between educational expenses (i.e., tuition, books and supplies, rent) and food annually, and that 21 percent did so for a full 12 months.
Ms. Coleman said they plan for it to be a four-season greenhouse. They also plan to grow poinsettias in the future, to be sold to raise money for the project.
PTK also is in the second year of an ongoing campaign to support children’s literacy through the Worcester mobile library, bookmobile “Lilly.” With the support of the QCC Foundation, the chapter pledged to raise $100,000 to fund the continued operation of the Worcester Public Library bookmobile, which visits schools and community events.
The chapter recently donated $20,000 as part of the campaign. QCC partnered with Worcester State and the United Way of Massachusetts last spring for the makeover effort.
The purpose of Phi Theta Kappa is to recognize and encourage scholarship among two-year college students. To achieve this purpose, Phi Theta Kappa provides opportunity for the development of leadership and service, for an intellectual climate for exchange of ideas and ideals, for lively fellowship for scholars, and for stimulation of interest in continuing academic excellence.
Membership is by invitation only, to be invited the student must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 with 16 college credits earned at Quinsigamond Community College. Invitations are sent out in the fall and spring semesters.
QCC’s chapter has 488 active members. On April 5, PTK will host the induction of new members, welcome 188 new members, the largest induction in the history of the chapter.
Ms. Coleman will be attending the national PTK conference in Nashville, Tenn., along with outgoing PTK President Kimberly May, Vice President of Leadership Ethan O’Connell, and chapter officers Stephanie Collins and Tony Sanders. The conference will be April 6-9.