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1067 lbs of produce?

11 Jul
The Gardeners Grove is home to the LMU Organic Garden Project

The Gardeners Grove is home to the LMU Organic Garden Project

Lincoln Memorial University is on a mission to serve underserved populations in Appalachia and beyond. You probably know that the University pursues that mission by providing educational opportunities. An email in my inbox this morning reminded me that although LMU fulfills this mission with class offerings, new programs and professional degree opportunities; it also uses swimming pools, stethoscopes, paintbrushes and produce.

Produce? Yes, as in squash, peppers, cabbage, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Say what? Yes, 1067 lbs., of squash, peppers, cabbage, cucumbers and tomatoes to be exact. And that doesn’t account for the summer crops that have been planted and haven’t started to yield a crop. Oh, and all of these crops are organically grown. What does all this produce have to do with LMU or her mission?

In January of 2010 the LMU Board of Trustees set aside a small portion of the LMU Main Campus’s 1,000 acres in Harrogate, Tenn., to establish an organic garden. The goal was to provide a place for community members, both from LMU and the surrounding counties, who might not have access to land or resources to grown their own food and learn organic gardening.

IMG_2212The LMU Organic Garden facilities are located on the south side of campus past LMU-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine near the roundabout. Today the garden includes two green houses and is split into two sections. The adult garden consists of 75 raised beds and ¾ of an acre community garden. The adult section includes three wheel chair accessible raised beds. The children’s garden consists of 25 raised beds and a ¼ acre community garden. Additionally, there is a ¼ acre produce market garden which is used to teach young adults successful market skills. Garden members have the opportunity to grow their own food in individual beds. Additionally they have access to a classroom/kitchen to attend weekly meetings each Monday, which often include guest speakers. Classes are offered for planting and soil preparation, canning and healthy eating. Produce is shared with local families and community food banks. Funded in part by grants from Grow Appalachia in Berea, Ky., and the Cumberland Natural Resource Association, the LMU Organic Garden offers free beds, seeds, home gardens and plants to its members.

The high tunnel gives gardeners more options during the growing seasons.

The high tunnel gives gardeners more options during the growing seasons.

While the growth at the garden has been gradual, progress is apparent as the roots of the group take hold. A high tunnel has been added in the last year providing another opportunity to multiply the crops. That 1067 lbs. of produces is up from 325 pounds a year ago. There are 52 families, a total of 132 individuals, participating in the garden and their weekly classes are usually filled to the brim. The group joined the Harrogate Farmers Market and the spring plant sale generated $674 and 200 vegetable plants were donated to local food ministries. All told, between providing healthy food to the participants, selling produce at the market and donating plants to ministries, the garden is extending LMU’s mission by providing for the underserved.

The LMU Organic Garden is managed by Bill Clayton and Sue Granger. Bonnie Banks is the green house manager and administrative duties are handled by Debbie Clayton. Applications are available by contacting Bill Clayton at; or Sue Granger at or Debbie Clayton at For more information on the organization call Bill Clayton at 423.441.9133.

The LMU Organic Gardening Project is a partner site of Grow Appalachia, an outreach education and service project of Berea College. It is funded by the generosity of John Paul Dejoria, co-founder and CEO of John Paul Mitchell Systems, Inc. Grow Appalachia emphasizes food production in order to introduce as much no-cost, fresh healthy food as possible to the region. The basic goal is to help as many families grow as much of their own food as possible. Additional financial support has come from Walmart in Tazewell and the 2014 Youth Garden Grant from the National Gardening Association.

The garden also produces honey from these bee hives.

The garden also produces honey from these bee hives.

One of two greenhouses at the garden.

One of two greenhouses at the garden.



Traveling this summer? Don’t forget Flat Abe.

24 Jun

Balloons released with postcards.There are time honored traditions that every elementary student takes part in. I remember tying a postcard to a balloon and letting it fly, hoping whenever the flight ended someone would find my postcard, note where it landed and send it back to me. Some kids send out messages in bottles or the more traditional chain letter. The lesson in these exercises is to expand the worldview of the student. To show a child that there is so much more than their small insulated community. Similarly, the beloved children’s book Flat Stanley (by Jeff Brown in 1964) has evolved to the Flat Stanley project. In the Flat Stanley children’s books, Stanley travels the world in envelopes. Students who read the books send the paper doll and written notes to students in other parts of the world through conventional mail and e-mail. Children exchange ideas, photographs, questions and culture with students overseas. Once again, a world view is expanded and connections are made.

LMU’s Flat Abe project is aimed at providing a way for LMU students and alumni to share their blue and grey pride and document their travels. Flat Abe can be requested through the LMU Alumni page ( and getting started is as easy as:

  1. Request Flat Abe
  2. Receive Flat Abe
  3. Take Flat Abe pictures
  4. Share Flat Abe pictures
Flat Abe in Zimbabwe.

Flat Abe visited Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe with Bill Hoffard.

As the alumni page explains, “Abe represents all of the LMU family and our impact on the world, because we represent LMU no matter where we are. Whether we are relaxing on the beach or volunteering our time on mission trips to underserved communities, we are carrying LMU’s legacy with us. And who better to bring with us on those trips but Abe himself?”

Since the program began Flat Abe has had some interesting journeys. He has celebrated important milestones including births, marriages and more. He has made it to quite a few locations including Labadee, Haiti; Cozumel, Mexico; Falmouth, Jamaica; George Town, Cayman Islands; and US cities in Florida, California, Texas, Nevada, and Tennessee. Flat Abe also hung out with some famous people like Clare Bowen from ABC’s Nashville.

Clare Bowen and Flat Abe.

Flat Abe and LMU Alum Jamie Mihalko met Clare Bowen of ABC’s Nashville, where else? In Nashville at a Predator’s Game.

So if summer adventures are on your horizon, don’t forget to pack Flat Abe and share your journeys with the LMU community. LMU Director of Alumni Services Donnie Lipscomb did just that earlier this week when he landed in Shannon, Ireland on his way to Galway with the current LMU Alumni Travel trip to the Emerald Isle.


Honest Abe in the Emerald Isle.

Flat Abe arrived in Ireland earlier this week.

More recreation options on campus

5 Jul

This week I have already discussed the pool and the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum as entertainment options on LMU’s main campus in Harrogate, Tenn. But did you know that they are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to recreation on campus?

The University makes most of its facilities available for public use including the driving range at the Railsplitter Golf Practice facility. The range is located at the base of the hill leading to the LMU-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine. It is open daily, from 9 a.m. to dusk Monday-Saturday and from 1 p.m. to dusk on Sunday. Managed by LMU Golf Coach Travis Muncy, it is staffed by a mix of LMU golfers and professional golf management majors. Buckets range from $4 for a small to $11 for a large. It’s a great place to work on your swing.

Not a golfer? There is more. When the University completed the Poteet Tennis Complex behind Tex Turner a little over a year ago, it decided to keep the old tennis courts. Located to the right of the Arena and directly behind the Softball Complex, the older courts are now used by the J. Frank White Academy tennis team and made available for public use.

If organized sport is not your thing, LMU also opens the Tex Turner Arena for walking from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily. On Wednesdays, the Arena is closed for cleaning until 11 a.m. And campus is always open for walking, running and biking on the greenway that stretches the length of campus.
The University is also home to Harrogate City Park, which sits adjacent to the University. LMU works to maintain the park’s beauty and to add improvements over time to better serve the community.

The University has worked diligently to provide reasonable accommodations to its patrons with disabilities. LMU has been very sensitive in ensuring that all new construction and existing facilities provide reasonable accommodations for inclusiveness in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). LMU has recently added ADA Compliant swings.

Amenities include:
• Handicap Accessible
• 20.70 acres
• Pavilions (1 large, 2 small)
• Picnic Tables
• Gazebo (1)
• Basketball Court
• Volleyball Court
• Skateboard park
• Horseshoe Pits
• Walking Trail
• Bike Track
• Playgrounds
• Sandbox
• Swing-sets with ADA compliant swings
• Rest Rooms
• Vending Machines
• Harrogate City Park is under Campus surveillance at all times.
Harrogate City Park pavilions & picnic tables are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Charcoal grills are provided on-site. You must bring your own charcoal and grills must be cleaned before usage. For more information or questions about the park, please contact Karen Farmer at (423) 869-7409.

Summer is a great time to recreate and LMU is home to some of the best recreation in the area.

Take us out to the ballpark…

2 Jul

The boom, pop and crackle of fireworks should be filling the air throughout the country later this week as July 4th celebrations spread coast to coast, sea to shining sea. Here in the southeast, we are anticipating more of a fizzle than sizzle because of rainy forecasts. In fact, most counties in the LMU service area are under a flood watch through Friday evening. Thankfully, celebrating the birth of this great nation is not always limited to Fourth of July fireworks, barbeques and picnics.

Scot Shields

Scot Shields

Anyone who has uttered the words “as American as apple pie,” knows there are a slew of American institutions that fit that billing. Baseball is certainly one of them as America’s favorite pastimes. LMU’s love affair with competitive baseball can be traced back to within 11 years of the University’s founding. LMU has boasted a baseball team since 1908. The 105 years that have followed brought LMU banner seasons, conference and league titles, All-Americans, future pros and even a World Series Champ. One of our most notable alumni, Scot Shields, won a World Series with the Angels back in 2002.

Tennessee Smokies

Tennessee Smokies

The love affair continues as LMU is a corporate sponsor for the Tennessee Smokies, a minor league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs that plays in Sevierville, Tenn. This is the third year of our partnership, which began as a marketing effort to help LMU garner more attention for what was then a new extended learning site in Sevier County. However, the partnership has resulted in one of the University Community’s favorite outings – “LMU Night at Smokies Park.”

Set for a Fireworks Friday on July 19, this year’s event promises fun for the whole family. The Tennessee Smokies will take on the Jacksonville Suns at 7:15 p.m. The University will participate in various promotions during the game. The LMU Cheerleaders, Dance Team and Abe will join Diamond and Slugger, the Smokies’ mascots, for pregame entertainment. Additionally, LMU admissions will be on hand with recruitment materials and give-aways. It will be Kenny Chesney Theme Night at the park featuring the country music star’s greatest hits. Following the game, a free fireworks show will take place.

It’s not too late to join the fun. Discounted tickets are available for faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends. The ticket package is $11 apiece and includes admission to the game and a meal voucher good for a hotdog, a soft drink and chips. Follow this link to order online.

Hopefully Mother Nature will cooperate for our celebration of the American institution of baseball and our Fireworks Friday will be more sizzle than fizzle. However, if Mother Nature does deal us another bad hand, rainchecks will be available.

Inspiring a world view.

12 Nov

Growing up in outside of Syracuse, N.Y, I lived a pretty sheltered life with a limited world view. My parents were both born and raised in that same small town. Though my dad attended college, he doesn’t have a degree and for living in New York State her entire life, my mom had never been to New York City until just a few years ago. When we took trips growing up, it was always within state or nearby. In fact, until my honeymoon almost 10 years ago, the only country outside of the United States I had visited was Canada.

To say my worldview is much larger than my parents would be misleading, because though I have traveled all over the United States and moved to the very foreign “South” more than a decade ago, my passport has the same two stamps that theirs does – Canada and Aruba. My husband has at least been overseas, having visited Greece. With such a limited view, I jumped on an opportunity to give my children an international experience without leaving the security of our home. I did this by volunteering to be a host family for the World School International Forum 2012.

The World School organization was founded in 1997 by Masaki Mastudaira, the former Chairman and present advisor to the board of trustees at Kanto International Senior High School in Tokyo, Japan. From 1997 to 2001 the Forum was held in Tokyo, hosted by its founding institution, Kanto International Senior High School. Building on the success of the first five years of World School Forum, the organization has extended its mission to other countries during the last decade. A different member school hosts the Forum every other year, with the event returning to Japan in alternate years. Recent host countries have included South Korea, Australia and Italy. The United States was the first country other than Japan to host the forum in 2002 and ten years later, the forum returned to Tennessee.

The mission of World School is to create a truly borderless entity for the purpose of helping the participants create their image of an ideal educational program. The program is designed to train students to adopt a global perspective by becoming receptive to differences and to enable them to form lasting friendships. It will also prepare them to excel in a globalized society.

To the community that hosts the Forum, it is a rich opportunity to learn from the participants and share the local culture. Having served on the World School Committee, I had been involved in the planning of the Forum for over a year. As we discussed the home stay portion of the forum, I was intrigued by what the experience could mean to our family.

I have five-year-old twin daughters. They made their first 12-hour car ride to visit my family in NY when they were 11 months old and have made almost annual trips back there since then. They are acutely aware that our country is vast. I recently discussed a planned trip for Thanksgiving and their response was “Grandma and Grandpa’s house if far away, can’t they just come here?”

I can remember growing up and especially at their age, not being aware of much outside my hometown and state. Florida was a far off place where the magical Disney World was located, but I never really dreamed of seeing other countries.

To prepare the girls for our special visitors, I started telling them that we’d be meeting new friends that had travelled from far away to see us. As soon as I found out what country our guests were from, I showed them the countries on the map. I showed them how close Canada was to where mommy grew up and contrasted that with how far Romania was from Tennessee.

Our World School guests Kate (left) and Daria (right) with Gracie and Andie (on Daria’s lap).

When our home stay weekend arrived and I returned home with our guests, I was impressed to see how much of my brief lessons the girls had retained. Our students were Kate, from Canada, and Daria, from Romania. It was funny to hear Andie and Gracie assail them with questions even before the made it into the house. When we pulled the car into the garage Andie came bursting through the door and Gracie was close on her heels. “Hello Kate! Hello Daria!,” they exclaimed. “Which one is Kate? You know you have the same name as our mommy.”

I was equally impressed with how interested, loving, patient and attentive Kate and Daria were with the girls. That first night, they had just returned from the Washington, D.C., excursion, so they had already been on a bus for around 9 hours when I picked them up in Harrogate. It is an hour to my house in Knoxville, so they had to have been exhausted. Nevertheless, they entertained the girls’ imaginations until it was well past the twins’ bedtime. They let the excited little girls give them a tour of the house and show them their room.

Since the home stay weekend came on the weekend before Halloween, we had grand plans to go to a pumpkin patch, corn maze or fall festival the next morning. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate and we had to settle for a more traditional American high schooler’s weekend experience of going to the movies. Andie and Gracie stayed home for the movie, but not before getting Daria and Kate to play hide and seek with them.

After the movie, we came back home and made Halloween cookies to take to a costume party later that night. Again Kate and Daria showed tremendous patience with Andie and Gracie, helping them roll out the dough and cut out ghosts, pumpkins and tombstones.

The party was at one of our close friends’ houses and included a bonfire and a performance from an authentic American garage band. I tried to stick close to Daria and Kate since they were among strangers in a strange land, but there was no need for my worry. They made friends easily and seemed to talk to everyone. I think they especially enjoyed the band, which because it was a costume party included James Bond on the keyboard, Big Bird as the lead vocalist and Shrek on bass.

At the end of our weekend, Andie and Gracie were sad to see Kate and Daria go. Each of our guests left us with special gifts from their countries, something the girls still talk about. Monday morning when  Andie and Gracie returned to their school, I was impressed to see how excited they still were from our visit. “We had special guests at our house this weekend,” Andie told the teacher. “Yeah, they were from other countries,” added Gracie. “We live in the United States. Kate is from Canada and Daria is from Romania,” Andie followed up. “Canada is close Mrs. Hale, but we’d have to take a boat to get to Daria’s country,” Gracie said.

Is Facebook the cure for the World School Blues?

8 Nov

Five days ago I attended the World School International Forum 2012 closing banquet. It was the last event on a packed schedule for delegates from 21 countries around the world and while I expected it to be emotional for the nearly 100 high school students and teacher chaperones that had spent two weeks forming friendships and unbreakable bonds, I wasn’t prepared for the abundance of tears.

The mission of World School is to create a truly borderless entity for the purpose of helping the participants create their image of an ideal educational program. The program is designed to train students to adopt a global perspective by becoming receptive to differences and to enable them to form lasting friendships. It will also prepare them to excel in a globalized society. To accomplish this, a forum has been held once a year since 1997 to give students from around the world an opportunity to come together and learn from each other. These forums were held in Tokyo, Japan, from 1997 – 2001, then LMU became the first institution to host the event outside of the founding country in 2002. Ten years later, it was the University’s turn to host the event again.

It’s no wonder the students, and teachers too, shed some tears on their last day, because in the 11 days that came before life changing friendships were made, borders were torn down and a truly global community built on respect was created.

Hailing from Australia, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, Indonesia, South Africa, Turkey, Romania, France, Russia, Italy, United Kingdom, Japan, Thailand, Germany, India, Sri Lanka, China, Finland and Macau the delegates all landed in Knoxville before boarding buses and vans to take them to the Cumberland Mountains that LMU calls home. After settling into LMU residence Halls and celebrating the opening of the Forum with the Opening Ceremonies, the international contingent was on the road again for an excursion to Washington, D.C.

Things didn’t slow any on their return to Tennessee, as home stay would greet them. The students and teachers were split among community members to get a taste of home life in America. They returned to LMU for an intense second week of more academic pursuits. The education theme for the forum was Environment: Housing and Volunteerism and the students spent a lot of time preparing for a debate on the topic. The second week also included booth day and country performances where they shared information about their country with over 1,000 community members and school children.

The country performances included everything from –

the evolution of dance in the United States:

To the international sensation that is South Korea’s PSY Gangham Style (check it out around the 3 minute mark).

To the Aussies sharing a holiday favorite from Down Under.  Jingle Bells with no snow?

I had a very limited role in World School, mainly to photograph selected events as my schedule permitted. My family also played host for a pair of students during home stay (more on that in another post). Even as an outside observer, it was clear that special bonds were formed every step of the way.

During the closing banquet the delegates were warned of the “World School Blues” that could greet them when they returned to their home countries. At first, I was skeptical. I thought, these kids have been away from home and their families for nearly two weeks, surely they will be happy to have the comforts of home. They have been staying in institutional residence halls without the benefits of customizing them like college students do. They had been eating strange food and kept on a tight schedule with little down time to just chill. Surely, home was calling. But then I watched as they shared memories throughout the banquet and at its conclusion began moving around in small groups alternately hugging, crying and snapping pictures and I knew home was far from their minds.

 In that moment, as an adult who has said goodbye to my fair share of friends over the years, I was envious of their connections.  I remember crying over friends as I said goodbye every summer at the end of summer camp. I cried because I knew that I was not likely to see or hear from until the next summer. These World School delegates weren’t crying over that. They may never be in the same room again, but they would always know what was happening in Montreal, Paris, New Zealand or even Harrogate. Technology has changed everything. Facebook is now a conduit to maintaining these friendships. While the delegates may get the “World School Blues” longing to sneak out of a residence hall to meet up for midnight talks or miss a certain delegate’s unforgettable laugh, they’ll always be just a few clicks away from seeing their friends.

The Student Series

7 Aug

Summer on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University is coming to a close. In the last three weeks we have welcomed new students in the LMU-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine, LMU-Duncan School of Law and Caylor School of Nursing. Next week brings Faculty/Staff Conference Week which culminates with New Student Survival Week.

It’s hard to believe that it has been three months since the Class of 2012 crossed the stage at Tex Turner Arena, but alas, time flies. It was roughly same time as graduation when I was invited to join a group that was working on recruiting more students for fall. You see, though our retention efforts were on pace to make up any shortfall, our new student projections for this fall were lacking. After nearly 10 years of record breaking enrollments, LMU had reached a plateau.

You can point the finger in many directions as to why our new student numbers were down. There is the economy, the intimidating notion of college or simply the fear of not fitting in. Another factor in LMU’s new student short fall was the strides the University was taking to increase admissions standards and enhance its academic rigor.

So roughly three months ago, I was invited to join that committee to brainstorm on what things we could do to finish the recruitment cycle strong and bring more new students to LMU. The group included a trustee, the Dean of Enrollment Management, the Director of Admissions, the Dean of Community College relations and the Dean of Administration plus a University employee that specializes in promotions.

The group immediately went to where everyone goes for a quick fix, marketing efforts. They inquired if we had done enough marketing, if we had ran enough ads, if there was something that we could do to get more people to apply? What were we doing right now? I always feel uncomfortable when those questions start to fly. Not because they aren’t valid questions, but because I always feel like no matter what I’m going to say it’s going to sound defensive.  The cold hard facts for this group at that moment were that it was May and the advertising budget had been planned and spent months ago. So there would be no quick fixes.

Looking for plan b, we discussed the current applicant pool and discovered that there was a fairly large group of applicants who had already applied and been accepted to LMU, but had not registered to join the Class of 2017. To me, it was the golden ticket. Here was a group that we already knew were interested enough to apply to LMU. The admissions folks told us that they had been communicating with this group for months and that they were just taking extra time making decisions. “They haven’t told us they aren’t coming to LMU or that they were going anywhere else. Our counselors have called them and they keep saying they are still making their decision,” Admissions Director Sherry McCreary reported to the group.

If they were still in the market to come to LMU, I assumed that repeated calls from our admissions counselors would only do so much. We needed to find a different way to reach them. The group discussed the University’s greatest selling points including the picturesque campus and engaging student body. “A lot of times all it takes is for prospective students to tour the campus and they are sold,” the admissions folks reported. This led to a discussion of adding another recruitment event like our Railsplitter for a Day or Preview Day events, but with several new student orientations already scheduled throughout the summer there was no time to add something else. Which brought us to the conclusion that if we couldn’t get prospective to students to Harrogate, maybe there was a way to bring Harrogate to our prospective students.

The result was a communication plan that included video embedded emails addressed to those accepted, but not registered students and the student series was born.

The series of videos features a host of current LMU students telling about why they chose LMU and sharing what their lives at LMU are like.

I would like to tell you that the student series was a massive success and we were able to convert 150 of the 300 people in that pool of accepted applicants into registered students. However, I not sure that is the truth and we won’t have final figures until classes start. Whether we still come up short or not, the student videos have been a big hit and something our admissions staff has already said we need to continue to utilize.