Five MTSU School of Agriculture students and Collegiate FFA members wrapped up the recent spring semester by providing Reeves-Rogers Elementary School and the surrounding community with a special gift … to enhance their reading skills.
For a service-learning project, they built a “Little Free Library” and recently placed it outside the school, which is located at 1807 Greenland Drive, in Murfreesboro, just across from the Tennessee Livestock Center on the Middle Tennessee State University campus.
The students in assistant professor Chaney Mosley’s agricultural education class constructed the red-and-white wooden library “that will be populated with books that focus on agriculture as one approach to improving agricultural literacy across Tennessee,” Mosley said. Reeves-Rogers students and residents in the community are welcome to utilize the MTSU donation.
The MTSU students include Colby Chapman, Morgan Maynard, Angela Maxwell, Lily Steed and Savannah Scott. Reeves-Rogers Principal Natalie Hardiman brought five students — Charlie Savannah, Kourtland Windrow, Aurora Bereuben, Jose Lopez and Abigail Bruckheimer — outside for the reveal in early May.
“I was grateful when Colby reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, we want to build you a Little Library, and ours was actually falling apart and is going to need to be moved,” Hardiman said.
“I appreciate they are looking out for us, especially being right here across from MTSU,” Hardiman added. “People are in it all the time. They switch out books often, and it’s always full, so this is perfect.”
The project is supported by a National FFA Alumni grant, said Mosley, adding that this specific one was a “Give Back to Your Roots” grant supported by Nutrien Ag Solutions. Individuals and organizations also supported the effort through book and monetary donations to buy books.
Providing book donations were the Rutherford County Farm Bureau Leadership Committee and Rutherford County Young Farmers and Ranchers.
Steed, 20, a senior agribusiness major from Laguardo, Tennessee, said she and her classmates had seen a similar project donated to a community, “so we were charged (by Collegiate FFA) with creating a full program of activities, take one of those activities and follow through with it and that’s what we did with our ‘Little Library.’ It’s about a month of planning, building, structuring and getting it in the ground. We were happy to be able to do it.”
After the mission was completed, the MTSU students “reflected on the entire project to identify missteps along the way and opportunities for improving the project in the future,” Mosley said.
Mosley said that after eventually graduating from MTSU, the secondary agricultural education teachers “will be engaged in planning multiple projects and activities. Critical to this is learning how to set project goals, create a timeline and outline a budget to complete a project. In designing the budget, students had to consider materials that would be needed and identify total costs.”
Mosley said they plan to “extend this project in the fall by making additional Little Free Libraries and will create a mini-grant program that will be open to FFA members across the state to replicate our project where we will provide funding for supplies and will also send them agricultural books to put in their own established libraries.”
To learn more, email Mosley at Chaney.Mosley@mtsu.edu.
The School of Agriculture is one of 11 departments in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)
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