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Masonry Students Aid Sensory Garden, Feel Community’s Gratitude

Nine masonry students from Pennsylvania College of Technology recently installed accessible flower beds at the Lysock View Complex near Montoursville, receiving personal satisfaction and public acknowledgment of their much-appreciated community service.

The students, from instructor Glenn R. Luse’s Advanced Masonry Principles class, raised the beds to wheelchair height at the Lycoming County Sensory Garden so that disabled residents have an equal opportunity to exercise their green thumbs. In the process, the construction majors – who are used to having their projects disassembled at the end of class – have a tangible and lasting reminder of their shared skills.

A “Penn College 2015” brick signifies the workmanship by instructor Glenn R. Luse (in suspenders) and nine students from his Advanced Masonry class, who constructed accessible flower beds at the Lysock View Complex.
A “Penn College 2015” brick signifies the workmanship by instructor Glenn R. Luse (in suspenders) and nine students from his Advanced Masonry class, who constructed accessible flower beds at the Lysock View Complex.

“It is truly significant for these students to not only showcase the skills they are learning, but to provide a valuable service to the community,” said Marc E. Bridgens, dean of construction and design technologies. “Through projects such as this, students learn about helping others and making dreams become realities. That is an education that can never be taken away.”

Students involved were Zachary R. Beaver, of Danville; Bryton T. Brown, of State College; Cody L. Ebner, of Oreland; Nicholas D. Gieger, of Dingman’s Ferry; Timothy S. Moore, of Oxford; Jared C. Poper, of Greencastle; Joshua A. Remyszewski, of Plymouth Meeting; Michael E. Ross, of Chalfont; and Clay T. Shannon, of Cogan Station.

Throwing his whole body into hands-on instruction, Glenn R. Luse (lying in "the hole") talks his students through the project.
Throwing his whole body into hands-on instruction, Glenn R. Luse (lying in “the hole”) talks his students through the project.

Beaver and Shannon are in the building construction technology: masonry emphasis major; Gieger is enrolled in residential construction technology and management: building construction technology concentration; and the others are building construction technology students.

The serpentine-pattern beds are at the entrance to the garden, being constructed by the Lycoming County Master Gardeners to provide a combined sensory and learning experience for community members to enjoy and interact with nature.

“Having them out on a real job is an invaluable learning experience they can’t get in a lab,” Luse said. “It’s hard to teach the real world without being in it.”

Once they completed their phase, the instructor and his students were summoned to downtown Williamsport to receive some unexpected and unsolicited praise from those representing the beneficiaries of their five weeks of work.

Raised beds, accessible to gardeners in wheelchairs, take shape at the Lysock View entrance.
Raised beds, accessible to gardeners in wheelchairs, take shape at the Lysock View entrance.

“The project started 18 months ago, and when the class showed up, the area was a mess,” noted Daniel W. Knerr, a county work-crew supervisor. “They did a great job, and if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be where we are today with this project.”

The Master Gardeners program is a nonprofit, volunteer outreach of Penn State University, with a mission to educate the public on gardening. The raised beds – a project that has attracted the focus and generosity of a variety of businesses and other entities – were constructed to meet requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act, providing access for all to learn and enjoy gardening to its fullest.

Luse accepts the Lycoming County Commissioners' praise ... and adds his own for the students with whom he worked.
Luse accepts the Lycoming County Commissioners’ praise … and adds his own for the students with whom he worked.

“With our most sincere gratitude, you gave us the gift of these beds. I hope it gives you the passion for always giving back to the community,” they were told by Linda Betts, a member of the group and co-chair of the Sensory Garden Project. “We will think of each of you every time we see these brick raised beds.”

As the students’ efforts were applauded, each was awarded a certificate of commendation and appreciation for their “outstanding service.”

“Projects like this are great for students, great for the community and great for the master gardeners,” Lycoming County Commissioner Jeffrey W. Rauff said. “This is a win-win-win for everyone. Thank you for what you did.”

For more information about Penn College’s construction majors, call the School of Construction & Design Technologies at 570-327-4518.

For information about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

Photos by Linda Betts, Glenn R. Luse and Carol A. Lugg, assistant dean of construction and design technologies

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