Some West Virginia University students are using their green thumbs to spread a little sunshine to kids at the Shack Neighborhood House in Pursglove.

Students enrolled in Todd Wests Horticulture 220 course are partnering with the WVU Office of Service Learning Programs and the Maryland-based Brickman Group, one of the largest landscaping companies on the East Coast, to work on a landscape project at the Shack from 11:10 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday (Oct. 12).

The Shack is a community center providing year-round recreational, educational and social programs for children, teens and families. Plans call for an educational garden, shade trees for the playground and a border for the parking area.

The project gives the students an opportunity to get hands-on training, utilizing the knowledge that they get from the class and apply it in a manner that gives back to the community,said West, an assistant professor of horticulture in the Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences.

Last year, Wests students landscaped the playground at the Ronald McDonald House in Morgantown.

The students really felt like they were making a difference in what they were doing with the course,he said.

The Shack landscaping project is sponsored by a mini-grant offered through the WVU Office of Service Learning Programs. The project is an opportunity to take learning out of the classroom and apply academic skills and concepts to a real environment, said OSLP Director Kim Colebank.

This type of experiential learning complements studentsclassroom experiences,she said.WVU students and faculty recognize this as a valuable enhancement to lecture-based learning.