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June 14, 2011

UW-Eau Claire Professor Scott Lester's Community Leadership course provides a service to the community

Every spring semester, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire College of Business students enrolled in the Management 494-Community Leadership course are given the opportunity to apply their academic knowledge toward a community service project. Projects can take many forms, but all revolve around developing a service for a local organization that will also enhance students’ leadership skills.

“These projects not only bring value to the community, but they also give students hands-on experience,” said Dr. Scott Lester, instructor of the management course and director of the College of Business’ Center for Leadership. “This hands-on experience allows students to expand their leadership skills in a way that they can apply to a future career,” continued Lester.

This year, students submitted thirteen proposals to local organizations. Of these, ten were selected for completion. One student group project involved implementing a pre-diabetes intervention program at the Eau Claire YMCA. The program, which has been launched in other communities as a joint venture with UnitedHealth Group and Walgreens, aims to inform the community on the prevention of Type 2 Diabetes. The student group investigated information on diabetes, how other YMCA programs have used the program, and the administrative costs and logistics of setting up such a program.

“Overall, we were very pleased with our project,” said Jenna Weber, a senior HR management major in the course.  “We hope the YMCA chooses to not only implement the pre-diabetes program, but will also expand the idea throughout the community,” she continued.

All students in Management 494 submit their projects to the board of directors of the organization for which they have selected. They also present their project proposals to the instructor and class, and submit a reflection paper which enhances their understanding of the learning experience.

“Local non-profits benefit because they just don't have the human resources or the budget to implement all the good ideas they have for programming,” said Lester.  “Students benefit from learning how easy it is for one individual to make a significant, positive difference in the communities in which they reside."

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