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Students from a WIU anthropology class and the WIU Preschool are working on a teaching garden on campus. Photo by Tim Schroll - WIU
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Teaching Garden Benefits WIU Students, Local Preschoolers

October 3, 2014

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MACOMB, IL – A teaching garden on the Western Illinois University campus is matching Macomb preschool students with WIU students for a unique learning experience.

The garden, developed in collaboration with the WIU Departments of Sociology and Anthropology; Parks, Recreation and Tourism Administration (RPTA) and Facilities Management, is located in the quad behind Morgan Hall. It was started in 2011.

Preschoolers and WIU students spend time in the garden together throughout the semester, with Facilities Management providing mums, garden tools and gardening expertise provided by Landscape Maintenance Grounds Gardeners Grant Dimmick and Ginger Camp. Students from both groups planted mums, picked flowers and harvested tomatoes, carrots and turnips.

The project is part of an assignment for cultural anthropology students from the WIU Centennial Honors College and an event for the student organization Student Leaders Forever. The anthropology major at Western is unique in that the University is the only one public or private school in Illinois that offers a concentration in environmental issues.

"I regularly have my students in lower and upper division classes work in the garden alongside the preschoolers," said Anthropology Professor Heather McIlvaine-Newsad. "We are learning about our environment, what food we can grow ourselves, and what is good for our bodies and our environment together."

McIlvaine-Newsad said the learning opportunity offers students from WIU and the WIU preschool an outdoor classroom.

"It allows anthropology students to have firsthand experience in understanding the changing influence of climate change on their immediate physical environment," she said. "These activities, because they are based around food and being outside, break down barriers and allow the students to begin to relax and become part of the WIU community. Students routinely comment about how they learn about anthropological concepts like 'enculturation,' or how we learn about our culture, from working in the garden."

For more information about the WIU anthropology program, visit

Posted By: Jodi Pospeschil (
Office of University Communications & Marketing