River Stewards 2023 Cohort Capstone Project


River Stewards 2023 Cohort Capstone Project



Lyuba Benin, Victoria Jacobs, Sarah Yaroma, Kyle Torbic, Christopher Pirovano, Kerry Howard, Kelsey Saylor, Kathleen Dawson, Lauren Sapienza, Isabel Bartram, Elizabeth Vear, Emma Allington, Sean Zegarski, Grace Jackson, Natalie Yersavich


Presentation: 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., 417 Stonemill Road



The 2023 cohort of the University of Dayton River Stewards, the flagship program of the Rivers Institute, partnered with Dakota Center, a community partner located in West Dayton. The Rivers Institute, housed with other leadership development programs in the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community, uses a watershed model of community to promote service, learning, and leadership in Dayton and its neighboring communities. Capitalizing on an established relationship with the Dakota Center, the River Stewards began work towards revitalizing outdoor space at the Dakota Center, an under-utilized asset of the organization that could better serve both the afterschool and the senior programs there. The senior cohort organized volunteers from other cohorts in various garden days at the center and successfully wintered the garden, improved the raised beds, and prepared the garden for spring planting. In the off-season, the cohort developed a sustainability curriculum for the center’s afterschool program. These lesson plans drew upon the cohort’s interdisciplinary expertise, with a myriad of topics spanning from food sustainability to insect observation. As graduating seniors, the cohort intends for younger cohorts to continue nurturing this partnership; seniors compiled comprehensive lesson plans so future cohorts can continue the sustainability curriculum and garden days at the Dakota Center. The River Stewards hope that this project strengthens their partnership with the Dakota Center, that the curriculum enhances young people’s understanding and practice of sustainability, and that the garden days improve a space that inspires the joy of the outdoors in the greater Dayton community. The cohort thanks Mike Miller, Erin Wilson, Kristine Irby, Leslie King, and Kam Lee for their support and mentorship on this project.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Capstone Project

Primary Advisor

Leslie King

Primary Advisor's Department

Fitz Center for Leadership in Community


Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Institutional Learning Goals

Community; Practical Wisdom; Diversity

River Stewards 2023 Cohort Capstone Project