Lighting the Way: Crowdfunding makes LED project possible

Sharon Youck - SIU College of Agricultural Sciences student

By Rebecca Renshaw

We often share stories of donors giving to the university, or of gifts received for specific initiatives, but rarely do we hear stories of the impact those gifts make upon students.

This is one of those rare times.

With the first successful SIU crowdfunding venture for the College of Agricultural Sciences LED lights, the 32 donors who generously gave between $10 and $450 (with a total amount of just over $3,000) can now hear “the rest of the story” – and discover how their donations improved students’ learning environments.

SIU College of Agricultural Sciences LED Room

On March 31, 2017, the College of Agricultural Sciences held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of its LED light green space. Sharon Youck, a senior who will graduate with a plant and soil sciences degree in May, beamed with excitement as she explained her independent study.

“These lights make a world of difference in my plant and soil sciences independent study,” she said. “In two weeks I can already see the positive effects the LED lights are having on these plants.”

SIU College of Agricultural Sciences LED Room

Youck also explained one of the many reasons why these LED lights are so important not only to her, but to other students as well.

“One of the required courses in greenhouse management requires students to memorize between 150 and 200 types of perennial plants,” she said. “With existing greenhouses in disrepair, students had to travel to the University Farms greenhouse, located on the edge of campus, to visit the perennial plants located there. With limited time and limited access to vehicles, this made it difficult for students to study for their required classes.

“Now they can stop in room 169 in the College of Agriculture Services building and learn about the variety of perennials on display. It makes such a huge difference.”

SIU College of Agricultural Sciences LED Room

Youck plans to work after graduation with C.H. Robinson Worldwide as a carrier representative. She hopes to someday work for a fresh produce company, helping to increase yields, map forecasts, and eliminate pests and diseases.

When asked what she has found most surprising in her studies, she said she did not realize how many variables – and how many people – it takes to get an apple on the shelf at the grocery store.

“I have a greater appreciation for the farmers and the food producers who work to get food products to the public,” she said. “SIU has taught me all of that.”

If you would like to fund your passion at SIU, please visit salukifunder.siu.edu to see the many new projects that need your help.

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