UC Davis student receives $15,000 to conduct community service project

UC Davis student receives $15,000 to conduct community service project

Photo Credits: ZOË REINHARDT / AGGIE

Student was one of 12 to be selected for scholarship

Jonathan Ho, a third-year biochemistry and molecular biology double major, was selected to receive the Strauss Scholarship, which will provide him with $15,000 to conduct a community service project in Knights Landing throughout the 2019–20 school year. The scholarship is given to students from a group of 14 pre-selected California colleges by the Donald A. Strauss Scholarship Foundation.

Ho and his team plan to use the money to create a community garden in Knights Landing, an unincorporated agricultural community about 20 miles north of Davis.

Pueblo Unido, a youth group in Knight’s Landing, originally came up with the idea of a community garden in back in 2013, but a lack of resources and funding prevented them from creating it. The need for a community garden comes from the lack of access to healthy food that the community faces.

“The closest grocery store […] is in Woodland, Calif., so that’s about a 10 to 15 minute drive from Knight’s Landing,” said Luis Garcia, a third-year biochemistry and molecular biology double major, who is also involved in the project.

In 2017, the youth group’s idea was revived by the Knights Landing Environmental Health Project, a research project started by UC Davis graduate students Jacklyn Kelty and Alfonso Aranda.

Ho, who has volunteered for the Knights Landing One Health Clinic for about a year, connected with Kelty and began to work on a pilot garden after speaking with members of the community about their needs. Their first garden was successful, but the team wanted to do more.

They worked with the UC Davis Student Farm and the Woodland Community Garden to plan a bigger garden, which the Knights Landing Methodist Church offered a plot of land for. To make the plans for this garden a reality, Ho and other undergraduates including Luis Garcia, Harrison Jow and Rebecca Luna began applying for grants. Last year, they applied for the Strauss Scholarship and did not receive it.

“I learned not to give up and to really work with the community and the rest of my team on this project,” Ho said.

More prepared for this year’s application, the team tried one more time and was selected. According to the foundation, the fact that Ho was already involved with the community for months before submitting the application helped his chances.

“His background reflects a history of community and public service—including, crucially, at Knight’s Landing, where his proposed public service project is set, meaning he already has a demonstrated relationship there, and a base from which to proceed,” said Duncan Strauss, a Strauss Foundation trustee, via email.

Now that they have the funding, the team is working to plan the budget for the garden and Ho hopes to begin construction in June. The overall goal is not only to provide the community with access to fresh food but also to create nutritional programs for the youth of Knight’s Landing.

“All the hard work that everyone did is finally paying off,” said Rebecca Luna, a fourth-year community and regional development major.

Written by: Andrea Esquetini— campus@theaggie.org