AMES, Iowa — An Iowa State University junior was one of 20 college students from Iowa and California to be selected for the first class of the new Principal Community Scholars Program.
Mica Magtoto, a nutritional science major, said the scholarship interested her because it encourages students to complete projects that benefit the community. Magtoto decided to work with Ames’ Eastwood Community Garden as her project and as a way to give back to her community.
“It’s a way to combine my interests in nutrition and community engagement,” Magtoto said.
“She’s someone who takes a lot of initiative to seek out leadership opportunities,” said Suzanne Hendrich, a University Professor with Iowa State’s food science and human nutrition department. “She’s very interested in community leadership. She’s definitely someone who’s thinking about it.”
This semester will serve as a trial program for the Principal Community Scholars Program. Selected students will receive a $1,000 scholarship from Principal upon completion of their service project.
“We were impressed by the caliber of the community projects students will be taking on as a part of this scholarship,” said Emily Shields, executive director of the Iowa Campus Compact. “It is clear they have a deep commitment to their communities and we can’t wait to see what they accomplish.”
Students from both California and Iowa were selected to receive the scholarships. Magtoto, who was notified in December, is the only Iowa State student to be selected for the program.
“I was really excited,” Magtoto said. “It’s a totally new project for me and it’s something I would do on my own, anyway.”
The scholarship winners are asked to design projects that will engage their peers and their institutions in meeting community needs. The projects tap into a variety of skills that can be offered by college students and can impact areas ranging from education to environmental sustainability.
Magtoto’s community garden project will focus on tackling poverty issues in Story County. According to ISU Extension and Outreach, 17 percent of children under the age of 18 in the county do not have access to the nutritional foods they need.
“My family was once food insecure, so my younger brother and I were part of that 17 percent,” Magtoto wrote in her project proposal. “As this issue hits close to home, my project seeks to help other low-income and food insecure children get free access to fresh, local produce.”
Magtoto will work with the manager of the community garden to ensure success. Her goal is to tap into resources at Iowa State for materials and educational information.
During the next month Magtoto will apply for grants to help fund the project. In March, Magtoto plans to begin helping residents plan and later plant the garden.
Although Magtoto’s part in the project will end in May, her goal is to have residents and the garden at a point where the garden will continue and thrive until harvest.
“I’m really excited to see how this works out and to see what kind of impact it will make on the community,” Magtoto said.
The students participating in the scholars program will have the opportunity to work with each other, Campus Compact staff and their on-campus adviser throughout the semester as they complete their projects.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to bring our future leaders together,” Hendrich said.
The program is sponsored by Principal, a global financial services company based in Des Moines, Iowa with locations throughout the United States and around the world. Principal is focused on investing in communities and encourages employees to get involved.
— Iowa State University
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