Springfield Community Gardens

MSU’s documentary photography class is partnered with Springfield 

Community Gardens. Students take pictures of the garden for the 

nonprofit.

MSU students in the special topics in photography class got the opportunity this semester to work with nonprofit organizations, build their portfolios and gain experience in the professional field.

Students in the class taught by Jimmie Allen were tasked with working with local groups and photographing their volunteer work, both adding work to their portfolios and giving these groups the ability to use these photos in their campaigns.

“By creating this class, my hope is that students will be left with a greater appreciation of their community, a deeper understanding of the benefits of public service, and a changed world-view,” Allen said. “I am very excited about how this class is shaping up and I hope it will be of considerable value to our students, the community and the university.”

During the first month of this semester, the 14 students enrolled in the class were tasked with working alongside the Springfield Community Gardens, a local organization that sets up gardens in the urban areas of Springfield.

Maile Auterson is the director and co-founder of the Springfield Community Gardens.

“We enjoyed working with the students. They were helpful and accommodating to our needs,” Auterson said.

Auterson said he wants the class to work with the Gardens again in the future.

“There are so many opportunities to capture good photographs with our organization,” Auterson said. “We appreciate their work.”

While they were working with the Gardens, the students were to look for a nonprofit they could work with for two hours a week. Students were encouraged to get involved as much as possible with the cause and the work of their organization.

Students worked with organizations such as the Wonders of Wildlife, Green Student Alliance and The Greater Ozarks Audubon Society.

Ruby Reddecliff, sophomore photography major, did her work with the Heart of the Westside Neighborhood Association.

“I’ve never had a chance to photograph such a broad and important social issue as poverty... it’s interesting how you can focus on one small area and create a commentary,” Reddecliff said.

Students are encouraged to network as much as possible during their work with their nonprofit. A secondary goal of the class is to make connections for a future in the professional world.

“At first, making connections was difficult,” Reddecliff said, “but the more integrated I become with the community and the people, more trust is fostered.”

At the end of the semester the students will create a final portfolio with a multimedia presentation which will function as a mini documentary about their work and the nonprofit they chose to work with.

“Their prints should explore storytelling and sequencing in addition to the student’s point of view on the social issue that the non-profit serves,” Allen said. The multimedia presentation will consist of pictures from their chosen nonprofit in a slideshow alongside narration and interviews from members of the organization.