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Remembering Charlotte Zieve and her support of service learning

Winter/Spring 2013

The legacy of Charlotte Zieve can be seen in the beaming, binocular-cloaked faces of middle schoolers and their mentors, in the student volunteers going door to door to survey residents about sustainability, and in the grateful, enthusiastic comments from community leaders. 

Charlotte Zieve
Charlotte Zieve

Zieve (Ph.D. Land Resources ’86), who passed away in July, was a generous supporter of Nelson Institute student programming. She helped fund a new series of undergraduate capstone courses that address environmental challenges in coordination with community organizations.

A matching grant from the Morgridge Center for Public Service doubled the impact of Zieve’s gift, with the combined resources used to support graduate student teaching assistants. 

“Charlotte’s contributions represent a triple-win scenario,” says Rob Beattie, academic coordinator for the Community Environmental Scholars Program. “They provide real-world research and outreach training to undergraduates, support grad students who help teach the courses, and enable us to seek matching funds that double the impact of her gift. Without her support, these innovative capstones would not be possible.” 

Now in their sixth semester, the classes have provided real-world experiences to hundreds of students, who in turn give back to local communities. 

Environmental studies birding class
Birding to Change the World is one of a new series
of Zieve-funded undergraduate capstone courses.

“It has been a privilege to be part of a community-university partnership and embrace the Wisconsin Idea,” says Dadit Hidayat, a Nelson Institute doctoral candidate and capstone teaching assistant.

Trish O’Kane, also a Ph.D. candidate and recipient of a Zieve teaching assistantship, helps lead a class in which UW-Madison students are paired with Sherman Middle School counterparts, serving as mentors during weekly visits to the school and nearby Warner Park (see “Natural mentors,” Fall 2011). 

“We serve some of Madison’s most vulnerable children,” says O’Kane. The Sherman students come from one of Madison’s poorest neighborhoods, plagued by youth gang violence and a lack of safe areas for outdoor exploration. 

“Warner Park is the closest large, open wild space where these children can learn and play,” she says. “As mentors to these children, our students learn about intersections of racism, poverty and place. They become part of a community solution.”

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