Independent Study options are available to MPH students looking to further tailor their graduate experience. Julie (Blair) Gillis, a ColoradoSPH at CSU MPH student in the Global Health and Health Disparities concentration, sought independent study to gain experience with grant writing. A collaboration with Mulberry Community Gardens provided Julie with this experience – her grant application was funded, which will result in planting and upgrading a local natural area in Fort Collins.

Coming from a strong background in medical writing, Julie was looking for a way to translate her existing medical writing skill set into practice in public health. Following a practicum experience with the Growing Project, and a desire to start a community garden of her own, the Mulberry Community Gardens grant project was a perfect fit for Julie’s independent study. Mulberry Community Gardens is a non-profit, community style garden that grows produce, houses 12 rescue chickens, three rescue goats, and two beehives. The back quarter acre of the Garden is home to The Byler Natural Area, which is maintained by Garden volunteers. With the grant funding, Mulberry Community Garden volunteers will be planting native trees, shrubs, grasses, wildflowers, and upgrading the space with fencing and recycling/trash receptacles in the Byler Natural Area.

For others looking to enhance their grant writing skills, Julie recommends, “Go for it! It can seem really overwhelming to dive into, but there are a lot of funding opportunities, some of which are small and have simplified applications. Of course they are not all that way, but it is a good place to start if grant writing is something that interests you.” Also, skills obtained from other MPH courses will aid in the grant writing process. “We wrote part of a grant in Technology Based Health Promotions, as part of an assignment which was a great help. More than actually writing though, my work and school experiences have taught me how to work with, and organize different groups of people, to respect and consider the needs and opinions of all involved parties, and to be organized.”

Recognizing that grant writing skills can be an asset to public health practitioners, the ColoradoSPH at CSU offers other opportunities to enhance grant writing skills through guest speakers, training sessions, and courses.