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SEED Students Give I-64 Curb Appeal

February 16, 2012

Commuters who use Interstate 64 will be greeted with a nice splash of color this spring. 

Thirty-one students in the Scholarships for Education and Economic Development (SEED) program at St. Louis Community College recently volunteered with Operation Brightside to help add curb appeal by planting daffodil bulbs along the highway.

Susan McKnight, SEED programs coordinator, Jeanette Fonseca, SEED supervisor and Joe Cooper, SEED activities supervisor, led the effort.

In honor of Operation Brightside’s 30th anniversary, some 500,000 bulbs are being planted instead of the usual 50,000. Along with the anniversary, Operation Brightside has a new name, Brightside St. Louis.

“Once we got there, we were split into two groups," McKnight said. “Each group was responsible for laying out and planting 'bubbles' of daffodils – huge circles about eight inches wide, filled with daffodil bulbs.”

This year’s mild winter made it possible for them to begin planting in January.

Henry Martinez  
SEED student Henry Martinez puts his farming background
to good use while planting daffodills along I-64 for
Brightside St. Louis.

McKnight said one of the students, Henry Martinez from El Salvador, grew up on a farm and was appointed the group foreman.

“Henry helped us lay out our circles, and made sure that the bottom was flat and the sides straight so the bulbs would not be crowded and would grow straight,” she said.

And Henry enjoyed taking the lead.

“Helping was great,” he said. “I had the opportunity to use some of my knowledge to help other SEED students who don’t have a farming background.”

They worked approximately four hours, planting close to 3,000 bulbs. That was a huge feat considering that this was SEED’s first involvement with Brightside. Mary Lou Green, executive director of Brightside St. Louis, praised the SEED students, saying that she was really impressed with their work ethic.

Planting bulbs with Brightside St. Louis was a perfect learning opportunity to assist the students in the development of their Community Action Plans (CAP). While at STLCC, SEED students are required to develop a CAP to take back to their home countries.

“A CAP is a project that doesn’t need funding – just people power and the students’ leadership skills to mobilize volunteers,” Cooper said.

SEED staff look for volunteer opportunities in the metro area where the students can get ideas for their CAPs, and give back to their temporary community at the same time.

“What I liked about the whole experience was all the students learning and helping each other, while working hard together,” said Nancy Poron, from Guatemala. “This will be one of the experiences as a SEED student that I will always remember.”