One of the Fox Cities’ newest and most inventive social enterprises was honored Oct. 14 by Lawrence University during the college’s sixth annual Report to the Community.

Riverview Gardens was presented Lawrence University’s Collaboration in Action Award as part of the report.

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Lawrence students helped construct hoop houses last January at Riverview Gardens, the recipient of Lawrence’s 2014 Collaboration in Action Award. Students contributed a total of 1,038 volunteer hours to Riverview Gardens last year.

The award recognizes an individual or organization, who, in partnership with Lawrence, has provided exemplary service to the Fox Cities community through strategic vision, leadership influence, long-standing commitment and enthusiasm, financial contributions and/or volunteerism.

Riverview Gardens was founded in December 2011 on the grounds of the former Riverview Country Club on Appleton’s south side. As a self-sustaining social venture, it engages Fox Valley residents in community stewardship of a market garden, community park space and job training program. It seeks to assist local outreach organizations and build financial resources to help address the root causes of poverty, homelessness and unemployment.

“Riverview Gardens is not only innovative in its approach to addressing root causes of poverty, it has been equally creative in its partnership with Lawrence,” said Burstein. “The staff at Riverview has collaborated with Lawrence on a variety of initiatives ranging from courses that use the gardens as a living laboratory and research and internships that help students prepare for a wide range of careers to outreach projects that take classical chamber music beyond the concert hall and community meetings to foster dialogue on issues of common concern.”

“Our relationship is far more than just a volunteer affiliation,” Burstein added. “It is a deeply rewarding connection that helps both the college and community thrive.”

Since embarking on its mission, Riverview Gardens has utilized Lawrence students with expertise in sustainable agriculture provided by the Sustainable Lawrence University Gardens (SLUG) and the college’s environmental studies program. During the 2013-14 academic year, more than 300 Lawrence students contributed 1,038 volunteer hours at Riverview Gardens, the most of any of the 144 area agencies at which students served.

Two recent Lawrence graduates, Oren Jakobson (2011) and Hava Blair (2013) turned their student involvement with environmental and sustainability issues into key leadership roles with Riverview Gardens after they graduated.

“Riverview Gardens is not only innovative in its approach to addressing
root causes of poverty, it has been equally creative in its partnership
with Lawrence. It is a deeply rewarding connection that helps
both the college and community thrive.”

— President Mark Burstein

Jakobson, who led the permitting process involved with establishing a bee colony on campus, serves as Riverview Gardens’ director of farm operations. Blair, who conducted an independent study project that created a wetlands restoration plan for Riverview Gardens, is the manager of farm sales and markets.

Lawrence’s connection to Riverview Gardens also includes executive director Cindy Sahotsky and ServiceWorks outreach coordinator Ronan Christman, 1984 and 2013 graduates, respectively.

“Riverview Gardens is a great opportunity for students to put thought into action and the people we serve benefit greatly from their impetus to action,” said Sahotsky. “Many students will take what they learn at Riverview Gardens and use it to provide community, wherever they live. We are extremely grateful and humbled by the financial and volunteer support we receive from Lawrentians.”

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Bethesda Thrift Shop, where Lawrence students help sort donated items, was one of 144 community agencies in the Fox Cities served by Lawrence student volunteers in 2013-14.

Riverview Gardens joins the Boys & Girls Club of the Fox Cities (2013), the Appleton Area School District (2012), the YMCA of the Fox Cities (2011) and the Mielke Family Foundation (2010) as previous winners of Lawrence’s Collaboration in Action Award.

As part of its Report to the Community, Lawrence’s involvement with the greater Fox Cities community was highlighted, including:

• Lawrence faculty and staff volunteer and make contributions to 133 community agencies, serve on the boards of 46 local nonprofits while spending an average of 71.4 hours a year volunteering in the community.

71 different Lawrence student organizations volunteered in the community in the past year.

 52 percent of Lawrence students — 785 — volunteered during the 2013-14 academic year, contributing 12,420 volunteer hours to 144 community agencies.

 Lawrence Academy of Music teachers and students provided 74 free community concerts, recitals or master classes during the 2013-14 academic year.

35 local employers provided internships to 45 Lawrence students.

• 73.1 percent of the Wisconsin vendors used by Lawrence University in the 2013-14 fiscal year were located in the NEW North Region.

 Lawrence spent $5,438,819 in the NEW North Region during the 2013-14 fiscal year.

 2,026 Lawrence alumni live in the NEW North Region.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.