SE takes on a sustainability project for farmland preservation

August 5th, 2015

by Maryanna Biggio

This winter we had the pleasure and privilege of working with three College of Wooster students recruited by the Social Entrepreneurship program. They were mentored by Matt Mariola. Matt is associate professor of environmental science and a board member of Killbuck Watershed Land Trust.

Erin Andrews-Sharer (senior Spanish major), Ruben Aguero (sophomore economics major) and Annette Hilton (sophomore geology major) use social enterprise principals to study the history and management of KWLT. They wrote a business plan which, when adopted, will make our organization much more effective and viable in the area of non-profit conservation groups.

COLLEGE OF WOOSTER students (from left)Erin Andrews-Sharer, Annette Hilton and Ruben Aguero. (Not pictured - Matt Mariola and KWLT President Maryanna Biggio)

COLLEGE OF WOOSTER students (from left)Erin Andrews-Sharer, Annette Hilton and Ruben Aguero. (Not pictured – Matt Mariola and KWLT President Maryanna Biggio)

We are impressed with the time the students spent com- paring KWLT with six other Ohio land trusts of similar size and scope of operations, and grateful to Owl Creek Conservancy, Appalachian Ohio Alliance, Licking Land Trust, Land Conservancy of Hamilton County, West Creek Conservancy, and Hillside Trust for sharing information.

We are surprised, and in many instances humbled, by the data the students collected. For instance, KWLT holds more conservation easements and protects more acres than the other land trusts in the study, yet we spend fewer hours per week with our easements than any of the others.

Four of the land trusts are fortunate to have at least one paid employee whose job description includes office management, public outreach, fundraising, increasing membership and event planning. KWLT is entirely a volunteer-based, 12-member board of directors. Each has diverse professional skills and/or a desire to enhance their community.

We also have an office in a wonderful setting and centrally located within the county areas we serve. At this time, the office is more or less a storage area for the bundles and boxes of paper documents that accumulate with conservation easements. Our “membership” is loosely defined as many of you who have supported us financially or simply expressed appreciation for what we do.

It now behooves us as a land trust with great responsibility to begin to implement this well-considered and candid assessment of our organization. We feel a good starting point would be to convert our paper-based system to an online database. This could and should be done within the next three to six months. Next comes a full-fledged fundraising campaign and for that we rely on a commitment from our board of trustees and citizens of the communities where we are an important, in many cases unrecognized, presence. And next comes the exciting possibility of a salaried part-time administrator. As with so many good things, it does take money.

Early on in our sessions with Annette, Erin and Ruben we were asked to define KWLT, but what we thought we heard was the word “quilt.” Puzzled, we began to explain that a quilt is made with love, usually patched with beautiful fabrics and patterns, and provides warmth, comfort and beauty. We have made quite a few quilts and have more in the planning stages.

Then it dawned on us, after all these years. Say it out loud: KWLT is “quilt.” We feel like we have a new theme song. Some quilts are a family heirloom and last forever – just like a conservation easement. KWLT is now an acronym, and like so many others, hidden and yet obvious. It took the young and brilliant minds of Annette and Erin and Ruben, along with Matt Mariola, to bring it to our attention. Thank you!

Editors note: Reprinted from Ripples. Sprint 2015. Vol 4. Issue 4. Killbuck Valley Land Trust Newsletter . To see pictures of the other organizations we worked with see our Flickr photo stream.

Local SE group featured in local conservation land trust newsletter

June 1st, 2015

We are recruiting for Fall 2015!

November 22nd, 2014

 Do you want a transformative learning experience like Samantha and Usman?

Why: You are tired of a traditional classroom. You want to work on solutions to social justice challenges you have studied in your Women’s and Gender Studies and other programs on campus. You want to learn how social enterprises, in this case, social welfare and education not-for-profit-organizations, solve real-world problems and learn collaboratively with change makers. If any of this is true for you, please read more and take action.images
What: This Fall, the College’s Social Entrepreneurship Program is offering IDPT 405 Local Social Entrepreneurship Seminar. The problems-based experiential-learning seminar will meet Monday evenings from 7:00-10:00PM. Students earn 0.5 academic credits.

How: Teams of three will be paired with a local nonprofit organization. You will work closely with the organizations all semester to help them solve a defined problem they are currently facing. Weekly seminar sessions are led by Dr. Amyaz Moledina (Economics), other faculty to be announced, guest presenters. An expected outcome from the seminar is a business & marketing plan and a final presentation to the Board of the organization. No prior experience necessary. We do require your enthusiasm, passion for the problem, and a strong work-ethic. Space in the seminar is limited. A short application is required. The deadline to submit your application is Saturday April 25th at 4pm. Apply here.

More info: Come to our information session on Sunday April 19th at 8pm in Morgan 201 and Wednesday April 22 at 8pm in APEX.

SE’s value proposition

February 19th, 2014

By Samantha McNelly
As a first year college student, I only had a general idea of what I wanted my major to be and what I wanted to do after college. I just knew that eventually, I wanted to work in an environment that allowed me to help make the lives of others better.

Samantha McNelly

Samantha McNelly

I certainly had no idea how to reach that goal, or really what that even meant to me. When I enrolled in the local social entrepreneurship program, I was quickly thrown into a world of budgets, business plans, and risk analyses, which were quite far removed from the abstract political discussions in which I often found myself involved. Instead of using academic tools to understand a problem, I was being forced to use business and analytical tools to act on a problem. In the global social entrepreneurship program, I was able to use many of the skills I learned in local social entrepreneurship and apply them in a dramatically different cultural, political, social, and economic environment.

The local and global social entrepreneurship programs cannot be oversold. These two programs helped me cultivate new skills and interests that dramatically improved my personal agency. While there is a certain academic element to these programs, they reach much deeper than any other classroom experience and force the students to challenge any preconceived notions they have about a particular issue and then find a way to address the root of the problem in an innovative, creative, and practical way. This is not easy for a group of 18-22 year olds, but I saw remarkable growth in my teammates and myself as a result of tackling these daunting challenges.

It has now been three years since I participated in the local social entrepreneurship program, and two years since I went to India with the global team. I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that these two programs not only helped me determine my major, but were more formative than any of my other experiences in college because they reach beyond traditional academics and demand creativity, dedication, a positive attitude, humility paired with persistence, and the willingness to grow personally. Because of my participation in the social entrepreneurship programs, I am much more comfortable tackling problems and projects that others find overwhelming or “impossible.” I have a greater belief in my own abilities and potential to affect positive change in the world. I have had experiences I would have never had without these programs and met many wonderful people that I am a better person for having spent time with. I have acquired an intense, positive, persistent, and sometimes single-minded determination to defy expectations and push the limits of what is traditionally accepted as “good enough,” because I now believe that it is within my abilities to do something real, powerful, and groundbreaking. I have transformed from a concerned and confused student to an active and empowered soon-to-be college graduate. Most importantly, I have learned about myself and gained confidence in my abilities and passions, which I know will continue to push me to explore new opportunities, accept and overcome more challenges, and to continue to make myself better so I am better able to pursue my goals.

Local SE 2012

January 18th, 2013

The Local SE Team from 2012 worked with three organizations this last fall: The Wilderness Center of Wilmot Ohio, Lifes Little Adventure Farm and Green Township Historical Society.  Each of these organizations presented a unique business challenge to the student teams.

Teamwork is awesome! For 2012, Wilderness Center, Green Township and Life Little Adventures SE groups.

Teamwork is awesome! For 2012, Wilderness Center, Green Township and Life Little Adventures SE groups.

One of the challenges in our local community is diagnosing sensory disorder. Even more challenging is trying to finance mental health treatment, especially for low-income children. Life’s Little Adventure Farm had the idea of a cooperative clinic that would be serve low-income families whose children suffer from Sensory Disorder. The Green Township Historical Society came to use with another idea. They wanted to turn the historic Smithville High School into a community center. Finally, our long-time client, the Wilderness Center wanted to create a Wilderness festival showcasing green films to increase environmental awareness. Over the course of the semester, the three student groups worked closely with their clients, meeting weekly. The final product was a financial feasibility plan.

Local SE 2011 a success…a former SE client featured in the Washington Post

January 7th, 2012

Although we have not posted much, we worked with two clients and started three ventures in 2011. The SE program has now worked with over 25 clients since 2006 when we officially launched. This years projects included repeat clients such as the Wilderness Center, and new clients like Wayne County Family and Children First Council. Student teams developed a spreadsheet business model for sustainable forestry and also a developmental education program to help teens transition into adulthood. Three additional projects were start-up ventures. This is SE first! Students wrote a plan for a Social business – Woosh! that would combine after-school activities for children, experiential learning opportunities for college students and a high-end running shoe store. Another start-up, Backpacks for Kids, a “non-profit pop-up” would provide healthy meals for kids over the weekends and finally GLocal SE, a new experiential learning program for SE graduates. Woosh was a finalist in the Center for Entrepreneurship’s Idea Competition.P4086763

In other news, last year, local Social Entrepreneurship worked with Local Roots, a producer-consumer local foods co-operative. This organization is the first of its kind in the US. The students worked with Jessica, the Local Roots Manager, on a revenue generation model. The team was advised by Dr. Garcia. Today, Local Roots was featured in the Washington Post. Wooster’s SE program is proud to support innovative organizations in our community.

Local SE Final Presentations

November 7th, 2011

Have you ever been curious about Social Entrepreneurship(SE) at Wooster?  Have you ever wondered about what students do in SE?  Here is your opportunity to find out.  Our five Local SE teams will be presenting their plans for social change in our community on Monday, November 14 at 7 pm in Lean Lecture Hall.  Please join us.  (Snacks provided.)

BigBANG! Sparking Social Innovation

October 24th, 2011

Join us to learn and explore ways of solving large social issues with innovative solutions.  Hear Peter Senge, Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Founder of Society for Organizational Learning and award-winning author of The Fifth Discipline and explore how you could grow as a leader in social innovation.  This is a unique LiveStream interactive program open to anyone who is interested.  Snacks will be provided!

When: Friday, October 28 from 2 – 5 pm

Where: Lean Lecture Hall

What the SE Experience meant for me

July 21st, 2011

By Usman Gul

Sometime during my sophomore year at Wooster, I began to weigh my options about the many different paths in life that I could adopt after graduation.  Public policy, urban planning, behavioral economics and econometrics all seemed to be fine options, but first I had to decide whether I wanted to create jobs or seek jobs – was I to be an employee or an employer?

I wanted to be an employer. As a budding entrepreneur, the Social Entrepreneurship (SE) program was the only program at Wooster that provided students an opportunity to explore their entrepreneurial talents in a real-world setting. I worked with a non-profit organization that operated on grants from generous donors to promote the use of solar energy in and around Wayne County. As consultants, my teammates and I were required to propose a revenue generation model that would help the organization move closer to financial sustainability.

Usman Gul, Sam McNelly, Shitong Zhan and Moledina at the SE Seminar


For me, the SE program was a very effective reality check. I realized through first-hand experience that I needed to be more flexible in working with my teammates. Maybe I was a better candidate for a particular task, but what if my teammates really wanted to do that task as well? It seemed like I had to choose between group performance and team chemistry. However, faculty members who were supervising our project helped me find extremely simple solutions through which I did not have to compromise on either end. I ended up putting in my best effort for team performance, while also staying on excellent terms with my teammates.

Working with an external organization that had nothing to do with the College was an experience of its own. I learned all the little things that pile up to make a big difference in professional relationships. Working under pressure, constructing flow diagrams to visualize our project in group meetings, preparing an agenda before each meeting (and sticking to the agenda!), and being (or at least sounding) enthusiastic about the discussions in early morning meetings were only some of things I was able to master at an early stage.

Perhaps the most important lesson, for me at least, was to think outside of the box. One downside of taking so many objective and quantitative courses is that we begin to assume that there is one right answer to every question. Through the SE program, I realized that there were so many different ways of going about a particular project that possibilities were literally endless. However, the trick was to eliminate the uncertainty by acquiring the necessary information and then objectively and collectively decide the merits of every potential solution.

I feel that my time at Wooster would certainly have been incomplete without the SE experience.

The award-winning program continues in India

May 24th, 2011

The award winning program founded collaboratively by-and-for wooster students, faculty, staff and alums returns to India for the second year. Global Social Entrepreneurship (Global SE)  will return and work for EnAble India and Dream a Dream in Bangalore. Four students, Sarah Abboud (Communications), Kipaya Kapiga (International Relations and French), Sam Susanin (Economics) and Erika Takeo (Global Sustainability) will join Professor Moledina and Cathy McConell, Director of the Lilly Project as they work on two projects in Bangalore. A group of alums has promised to come and be part of the experience.

In order to finance their trip, students organized the first ever Wooster Food Crawl, a food tasting event featuring the areas local restaurants and caterers.

Fong Wong - Owner of the Black Squirrel Inn, Prachi Saorogi - Global SE 2010, and Sarah Abboud - Global SE 2011 at the inaugural Wooster Food Crawl

Over 200 community members supported the students and a wide variety of restuarants were featured, including Bake Haus, Zen, Chipotle and the Black Squirrel Inn. Students raised close to $1,000. These funds were matched by the program. Here students are pictured with the Black Squirrel Inn owner, Fong Wong.

Follow the social change learning experience on the Global SE blog.