Campus News

Horticulture professor receives Scholarship of Engagement Award

David Berle, associate professor of horticulture, has been named the Scholarship of Engagement Award recipient for 2011. The award recognizes a tenured associate or full professor whose scholarship addresses community needs, and who has provided campus-wide leadership to advance public service, outreach and engagement through scholarship and by providing course-based service-learning opportunities for students.

“David not only provides outstanding service-learning opportunities for his students, he also assisted the Office of Service-Learning in the creation and development of the ‘S’ suffix for designating courses in the CAPA system, and helped formulate an end-of-course survey to assess the impact on students of these course experiences,” said Steve Wrigley, interim vice president for Public Service and Outreach, whose office established and administers the award. “These accomplishments are prime examples of David’s tireless work to advance course-based service-learning at UGA.”

Berle, an expert in using the Global Positioning System and GIS, a computer system for utilizing geographically referenced information, resources for urban forestry and landscape management, came to UGA in 2002. Since then he has helped increase the number of majors in the program through his “Introduction to Horticulture,” which attracts more than 1,000 students in six different courses each year. He has been a pioneer in creating service-learning projects for his students. His students have used GPS equipment to inventory and plot landmark trees in Athens; designed and installed landscaping for low-income Athens residences; restored the Gospel Pilgrim Cemetery; and installed landscape walls, patios and walkways for local schools.

Berle’s work in communities has shifted his research focus to sustainable food production systems and community gardens. Last summer he advised students interested in establishing a UGA Community Garden (a student club known as UGArden), which is providing food for the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia. Berle has secured grant funding to advance his work including Georgia Forestry Commission Tree Inventory and Trees are Great grants; a public service and outreach Scholarship of Engagement grant; and, most recently, a USDA Local Foods Systems Certificate grant.

The Scholarship of Engagement Award provides a $5,000 faculty development grant to sustain or enhance Berle’s current outreach and engagement projects or to develop new ones.