Real-world success: right in the classroom

Writing Studies Student wins $25,000 Grant for Composting Innovations on Family Farm

Melissa Borer imagined big things for her family farm and business when she stepped into her Introduction to Grant Writing and Project Management class at UMD. But funding during the class itself wasn’t necessarily one of them.

Borer is a UMD student dual-majoring in Biology Ecology and Plant Sciences, and when she’s not studying, she’s helping run a family business as clinical herbalist and co-owner of Garden Magic.

Garden Magic partners with community members and small businesses to collect their scrap materials and make organic compost. While they are already working with companies like Whole Foods Co-op, Juice Pharm, Third Street Bakery, Dunn Brothers, Duluth Coffee, and Amity Creek Stables, Borer was interested in bringing this part of their business to the next level.

A Minnesota Department of Agriculture grant was the tool she needed, and she spent the semester preparing a proposal for $25,000 for improved composting technology. Borer won the grant.

Melissa Borer smiling at the camera

“I was really hopeful to get the grant, but mostly wanted to have the skill of grant writing for future use,” said Borer. “Now though, we're really excited to get this project going and see what we can do! We love the farming and gardening community here in Duluth, and feel really honored to do this work.”

Grant Writing is just one of the skills taught in the Writing Studies curriculum that helps students be prepared to make the world a better place.

Borer wasn’t alone in her fund-raising skills, and a number of her peers have found recent success at the time of this writing:

  • John Moder - won a $10,000 grant for combat veteran equine therapy
  • Greta Glowacki - won a $20,000 grant for improved transportation for elders in care
  • Alexis Sininger - secured a grant writing and reporting position with Wilderness Health

For more information about the Writing Studies major and the Professional Writing minor, visit the Department of English, Linguistics, and Writing Studies website, or email program coordinator David Beard.