The members presented Dunham with a $300 scholarship and invited her to join the club.
"We applaud you for seeking to involve educators in the early years," said Amanda Ross, vice president of the garden club. "What a treat to see and develop those young minds to love and enjoy planting and seeing the seeds grow into exactly what they are supposed to grow into. A miracle it is!
In her presentation, Dunham told the gardeners about growing up in Fairbanks after moving here from New York. She summarized her Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity-funded project called "investigating challenges and benefits of garden-based learning in early childcare settings." She is interviewing pre-school teachers about their thoughts on incorporating gardens into pre-schools.
Dunham's mentor is Andrea Bersamin of the Center for Alaska Native Health Research. "It's been an exciting project," Dunham said. She will present her findings on UAF Research Day, April 29.
Her senior thesis project dovetails with the URSA work. Mentored by Professor Meriam Karlsson, Dunham will review pre-school gardening curricula to discern what will work best for young children. "I will then apply that knowledge by looking at curricula that is out there, most of which is applicable to the lower 48 and try to find ways to make it work for Alaska in both urban and rural situations," Dunham said.