Creating a School Garden: Service Learning in Uganda

Type of Travel: 
Departure Date: 
Monday, May 25, 2020 to Thursday, July 2, 2020
Application Deadline: 
Thursday, December 5, 2019

This service learning program allows Iowa State University (ISU) students to work in Uganda developing school gardens for elementary schools in the Kamuli District. This project is in partnership with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Sustainable Rural Livelihoods Program (CSRL) and Makerere University (MAK). Students will develop school gardens and work with teachers in grades 1-7 to deliver curricula in food and agriculture, integrated science, and nutrition, while using the gardens.  Students will participate in one or more student-team projects that support the overall goals of the school gardening program. ISU students will work with CSRL staff in Uganda, ISU faculty and with students and faculty from MAK. 

Students will spend the spring semester in GLOBE 495UG, which meets Wednesdays from 5:10-6:30, researching Uganda, school gardens, and development models, as well as creating plans for their team projects. Students will travel to Uganda to work with the schools and implement their bi-national team projects during the summer. While in Uganda, students live at an ISU facility and are expected to follow the program’s code of conduct and housing agreements.  During fall semester and when back on ISU campus, students will participate in GLOBE 490Z, which meets Wednesdays from 5:10-6:30; students will reflect on their experience, complete reports on their team projects, and present their final reports to donors, partners, and stakeholders through poster presentations and a university wide seminar.

It has been held every year since 2006 and was developed in 2005. We have a strong relationship with the ISU, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods that has significant programming in Uganda. Faculty and students from Makerere University in Uganda are part of our team, as are members of the Iowa State University - Uganda Program.

Program Goals

  1. Contribute to ongoing efforts in Uganda by Iowa State University and Makerere University to improve the livelihoods of citizens in rural areas of Kamuli District.
  2.  Provide a high quality learning opportunity for ISU students combined with an opportunity to provide service in a developing country setting

Learning Outcomes

  • Gain exposure to the complex issues surrounding hunger, poverty and how those impact education for elementary school children
  • Develop and implement an internship project in the field
  • Gain experience working on diverse cross-cultural teams

Participant Selection Criteria

  • Students are required to have previous experience developing and completing an independent project.

  • Preference will be given to students who:

    • are majors in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,

    • are not graduating seniors since they will be required to summarize and report about their program experiences in the upcoming academic year, especially fall semester, and

    • demonstrate potential for capabilities while in Uganda.

    • Funds provided by donors to support this program are intended primarily for students majoring in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS).  All Iowa State University undergraduate students are welcome to apply, but preference will be given to students majoring in CALS.

  • Students must be in good academic standing. 

  • Students must be able to tolerate a variety of living conditions including but not limited to limited access to running water and electricity, heat and humidity, physical labor of working in a garden or agricultural field, and working with people of diverse backgrounds to create a productive team.

Due to the nature of the project and the fact that students will be working directly with primary school students, a background check will be required of all applicants and acceptance to the program is conditional upon approval from this background check.

Note  Due to international quarantine restrictions service animals cannot be accommodated on our study abroad programs. For more information, please contact the Iowa State University Student Accessibility Services Office.  

What are some basic details about the course's trip to Uganda?

  • Our bi-national group lives and works in a rural district – the Kamuli District, in Uganda. Typically, we live in a "compound" and the men live in one house and the women in another house.
  • Our activities at local primary schools (elementary grades 1 – 7) include assisting in the teaching of agriculture subjects (and sometimes sanitation and health and science), developing and working in the school garden demonstration and food plots, and the completion of a bi-national team project, with findings that will benefit school children or the school garden program, with your team of ISU and Makerere University students. We usually work with pupils in grades 5 – 7.
  • Possible visit to other regional districts to see improved rural livelihoods and agricultural operations of small- -scale farmers growing tropical crops (bananas, coffee, mangoes, avocado, pineapple, oranges, ornamentals, and vegetables), or producing livestock.
  • A weekend excursion to a local site of interest – volcanic mountain region or a national wildlife park.
  • Tour Makerere University, sites in the capital city of Kampala, cultural events

For more information, please come to 0018 Curtiss Hall, email Shelley Taylor

Course Information

  • GLOBE 495 (1 credit), Spring semester;
  • GLOBE 494A, Section UG (4 credits), Summer session;
  • GLOBE 490Z, Section UG (1 credit) Fall semester. 
  • GLOBE 495 will meet one time per week for a 2-hour session in spring semester. The 494 course will meet during the summer session in Uganda for about 6 weeks. The Fall 490 course will meet in fall semester for about 1.5 hours/week.
  • Wednesdays from 5:10-6:30

Once students have been selected, and have committed to the program, they will receive information regarding course registration.

  • For Pre-departure part of the course, class will meet during the spring semester at a location and time TBD. This course will

    • Set the tone for the program

    • Discuss academic portion 

    • Lay out expectations and procedures 

    • Answer your questions and concerns

    • Cover topics about itinerary, accommodation, meals, safety, health, logistics, travel documents, finances and more.

  • Travel portion of the course will take place in early May.

  • Class will meet the Fall semester following the summer travel for 1 credit.

 Students must take both the on campus courses and complete the travel component.  

Program Fee*
$1,990 (includes roundtrip airfare, lodging, in-country arrangements)

ISU Summer Tuition and Fees*
$1,292 tuition (undergraduate in-state/out-of-state)
$252 fees (undergraduate in-state/out-of-state)

Other ISU Fees*
$105 Study Abroad administrative fee
$53 CISI health insurance and travel assist

*charged to U-bill

Out-of-Pocket Expenses
$1,400 (some meals, souvenirs, toiletries, cell phone fees, visa, vaccines and preventative medicines)
$175 passport and mailing*

*If you are a first time traveler in CALS and need a passport, click here to find out how you can get the cost of your passport reimbursed (up to $145)

Summer tuition scholarship may be available for CALS students. Please note scholarship is for tuition only not fees.

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship: The Gilman Scholarship Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is an undergraduate grant program for U.S. citizens of limited financial means to enable them to study abroad, thereby internationalizing their outlook and better preparing them to thrive in the global economy.

 Scholarship Application 
 Scholarship Eligibility requirements 

Other Scholarship Resources

Insight Into Diversity study abroad scholarship ( Deadline November 30, 2019)

Office Of Students Financial Aid

Affording to go

Iowa State University Student Affairs Scholarships

Application Process
To be considered in the selection process, applicants should have completed the program application in its entirety before the application deadline of November 15, 2019.

  • Once the selection process is complete, you will be notified about the decision.
  • If you are accepted to the program you will be required to commit or decline participation.
  • Typically you will be given 7 to 10 days with a specific commitment date to finalize your decision.

Once you commit to the program, you are officially a participant in the program and will be responsible for all the program cost outlined in the budget. If you withdraw your participation after committing to a program, you will be responsible for all non-refundable payments that were made on your behalf and these charges will be charged to your U-bill.

Tentative Program Itinerary
The group will fly into Entebbe, spend two days in the capital Kampala, meeting their partners from Makerere University and participate in orientation. 

On day three, the students will travel from Kampala to a national park in Uganda for team building activities with the Makerere University students and faculty.  Park rangers will provide tours and sessions about Uganda's wildlife and ecosystem conservation.  

After 2 days in the park, the team will return to Kampala and then the next day travel to Kamuli District (about two hours north of the capital). The students will spend the next approx. four+ weeks living in rural Kamuli District, spending each day working on their service learning projects and working at the schools in the school gardens or teaching agriculture, nutrition or science classes under direction of the local teachers. Daily activities will vary as each student has different projects. There will be planned group excursions during a weekend(s). 

There are no phones, the group leaders cell phones will be forwarded on to the Study Abroad Center after the phone numbers are confirmed. 

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