Fox Valley Park District and Illinois Math and Science Academy Learning Program

On August 22 the Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA) class of 2021 and the Fox Valley Park District (FVPD) kicked off year two of the Service Learning Program. The collaboration gives the sophomore class opportunities for service in the Aurora community.

FVPD Community Outreach Manager Debbie Smith called the collaboration with IMSA, named by 2019 rankings as the #1 Public High School in America, a “win-win for all involved.”

The 2018 Service Learning Program included 221 students, 26 chaperones, as well as, IMSA staff and faculty members volunteering at 11 FVPD sites. Students assisted FVPD staff in removing invasive plant species, planting native species, cleaning playgrounds, and restoring local trails. They also learned about sustainability and preservation of local habitats and parks.

IMSA Assistant Director of Residence Life, Alexandria Johnson talked about the day of service and how it affects students saying, “One of our beliefs at IMSA is that belonging to a community requires a commitment to the common good. While our students are at IMSA, Aurora is that community. Working with the Fox Valley Park District for our sophomore Day of Service ignites the relationship between our students and the Aurora Community, opening the door for service opportunities and collaboration beyond this one day.”

Discussing the program’s impact Smith put it this way, “We have worked with IMSA for a number of years on having students fulfill their service hours at various facilities throughout the Park District.  This requires the FVPD to coordinate efforts with our various facilities throughout our 65 square mile district for students to each work approximately two hours that day.  We are able to complete many end of summer projects to prepare for our fall season in a timely and cost-effective manner with the IMSA students volunteer hours. It also gives the IMSA students an idea of what the Fox Valley Park District has to offer in our community since many students are not from this area.”