LEWISTON — Larisa “Reese” Batchelder, of Vassalboro, a student at the University of Maine at Augusta, was one of six Maine higher education students to receive Maine Campus Compact’s statewide Heart and Soul Student Award on April 24 at the University of Southern Maine Lewiston-Auburn College.

Each year, Maine Campus Compact recognizes up to six college students who are actively involved in transforming their campuses and communities into environments of civic engagement. These students have developed positive community and campus change, and have worked to institutionalize their community projects.

They have implemented innovative approaches to social, educational, environmental, health, economic and legal issues facing their communities and demonstrated leadership through their successful involvement of others on campus and in the community,  according to a news release from Tom Gallant, AmeriCorps VISTA leader, Maine Campus Compact, Lewiston.

Batchelder is a Liberal Arts major at UMA. In January 2018, she enrolled in a garden seminar class and discovered the UMA community garden. Over the course of that class, she pin-pointed problem areas and room for improvement and growth for the garden. She found that the current structure of the garden, being reliant on a professor’s free time, was unsustainable. She also found that there was room for more involvement with community members outside UMA students and faculty.

She undertook the task of expanding the social reach of the garden by connecting the UMA Garden Club with Fedcap, a nonprofit that serves as a resource for disadvantaged community members to find opportunities for constructive volunteerism. Her tireless efforts drew in community members of all backgrounds to connect with members of the UMA community and bring sustainability to the campus community garden.

Batchelder plans to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector after her graduation, according to the release.

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