Interprofessional Student Garden as it Relates to the Social Ecological Model

Miriam Valley

MPH, Public Health Administration & Policy

Brooke Offenhauser, Rita Stephenson, RJ Lucas

Laura Dammer Hess

Social ecological model, interprofessionalism


Background: In 2020, BeWELL conducted a survey to gauge health professional students’ interest in wellness initiatives and programming and found that gardening was a top preference. BeWELL, in conjunction with the Center for Health Interprofessional Programs (CHIP), established an interprofessional student-led garden using funds dedicated to art and gardening on campus. 

Methods: The garden aims to provide an outlet and community resource for health professional students, promoting wellness and organic relationships across disciplines. The social ecological model can be used to describe how the student-led garden has engaged in community-based health promotion across individual, interpersonal, institutional, community, and societal levels. 

Outcomes: The IP Student Garden engages health professional students on many levels of the social-ecological model by creating a social and physical space for wellness through gardening. The garden environment allows individuals to develop gardening skills and access green space, grow interpersonal relationships by interacting with students from different health professional programs, and creates a shared identity tied to community and the institution. We have had 250+ students engage with the garden, but the true impact of well-being extends beyond interprofessionalism.  

Discussion: To truly understand the significance of the IP Student Garden, the next step is to develop a formal evaluation of the impact of the garden, related programs, and events. The social ecological model provides a framework to develop an evaluation plan that incorporates all stakeholders and measures the true effect of the garden on the community of which it is at the center both physically and conceptually.

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