The winner of the 2019 Ardis Kyker Award for Outstanding State Service Project is the New Jersey Association of Student Councils for the project Grow-a-Row.
The state officers of the New Jersey Association of Student Councils wanted to find a project that could translate into long term change in New Jersey schools and communities. They selected Grow-a-Row because it had the potential for the change they wanted to make and it also featured a valuable and relevant service component. The goal of the project was to provide financial support for Grow-a-Row and to raise awareness through the hands-on experience of agricultural concerns such as food insecurity, proper nutrition, food swamps/deserts, and the importance of giving back to community.
When the project was over and evaluated, NJASC had exceeded its goal and realized that the uniqueness and hands-on activities associated with it were popular with their members, which was reflected in the project outcomes. NJASC members raised over $90,000 and harvested nearly 200,000 pounds of produce that was distributed throughout the state. Their efforts amassed nearly 17,000 service hours. Additionally, the state officers and more than 1,000 students learned first hand the impact they can make on the serious problem of hunger in NJ and their own communities.