The described service-learning project provides undergraduate landscape architecture students with theoretical city-scale challenges to be addressed at a site scale level, forcing them to envision a holistic approach to biophysical and social issues. Partnering with a public K-12 school district and a local non-profit allows for different expertise and resources to be integrated into the learning environment. Challenges such as social justice, environmental protection, tree canopy restoration, urban heat island, and client relations are addressed through this project; providing a professional-like experience for the university students. This repeated service-learning project allows students to have shared experiences and built projects they can discuss with fellow students, alumni, and future employers. The project is structured so that students integrate and apply knowledge, skills, and abilities from previous courses, while learning planting design concepts through service to the community and interaction with the environment. This approach has proven effective, as students feel personally responsible for the design process and future users. Through the nature of this annual project, university students are engaged with a professional experience and inspired with a renewed ecological ethic that allows them to integrate practice with service.
Keywords: project reflection, undergraduate education, urban forest restoration, urban aid, social equality, landscape architecture, tree canopy