University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


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Center for Service Learning
To Hold Annual Recognition Breakfast

 MAILED:  April 10, 2003

EAU CLAIRE - The Center for Service-Learning at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will hold its fifth annual Service-Learning Recognition Breakfast from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 15, in the Tamarack Room of Davies Center.

The event has grown each year, with approximately 100 people expected to attend this year's recognition.

According to Dr. Donald Mowry, director of the Center for Service-Learning, more than 400 community partners and UW-Eau Claire faculty mentors have contributed to the success of the innovative program, the only one of its kind in the UW System. Again this year, all campus as well as community faculty who have mentored and supervised students have been invited to the event, said Mowry, who has been involved with the Service-Learning program from its inception.

Although every participant is being recognized and honored at the breakfast, a few people who have been particularly instrumental in developing and improving the program will receive special recognition and plaques, and a permanent plaque where names can be added each year will be hung on campus.

All students at UW-Eau Claire must complete 30 hours of service-learning activity to graduate, with activities including a range of options. Many students choose to help in non-profit agencies such as Literacy Volunteers of America-Chippewa Valley Chapter, Feed My People Food Bank, The Salvation Army, Mt. Washington Home, Sacred Heart Hospital, and Western Dairyland Head Start, where they pitch in like other community volunteers, supervised by the professionals who staff these agencies.

But each year, UW-Eau Claire faculty members and community faculty supervisors come up with creative new ways for students, and sometimes entire classes, to serve the community while learning skills that may prove valuable, not only in their future careers, but also to their futures as volunteer contributors and community leaders.

For example, Dr. Melissa Bonstead-Bruns involved her freshmen year experience class in "Introduction to Sociology" in a variety of community service projects that connected students with aspects of social class, poverty and income inequality. Melissa said these first year students provided her with her favorite service-learning experiences.
"It was great to see the bonds that formed and to hear how affected they were by their experiences," she said.

Service-Learning also is increasingly being viewed as an important option for students studying abroad. A new program in Costa Rica this semester included a service-learning project designed by the community partners to help improve a school building, share their everyday life and culture, develop team work skills and improve cross-cultural communication skills. Students were allowed to develop and pursue their own individual learning goals, and the project goals related to at least five of the eleven goals of the baccalaureate degree. Students spent one week in the rural, somewhat isolated community of Guápiles, living with host families and working to improve the community's school. According to a site visit report by Susan Lochner, from the International Education Office, "the service-learning project was phenomenal!"

"It seems to me that everyone benefits from Service-Learning," said Andrea Sullivan, Special Olympics, who was recognized for Excellence in Service-Learning as a community partner at last year's breakfast. "Students have made it possible for us to continue quality competition events to individuals with cognitive disabilities. Of course athletes then benefit since they can continue to compete. However, the real winner is society. As students leave our competitions, they tell others what they have seen, and society begins to understand that our athletes have more ability than disability. When this happens, our athletes are more readily accepted for whom they are."

At the recognition breakfast, which will begin with a welcome from Provost and Vice Chancellor Ronald Satz, a community partner and a faculty/staff mentor will comment on the experience of working with service-learning projects and students. Selected students also will talk about how their service-learning experiences have affected them and how they have benefited the community. The event will include a few surprises, including the showcasing of a new community/campus partnership.

"This will be a day of well-deserved recognition," said Mowry. "A day when we take notice of the outstanding civic behaviors of our students, civic engagement of our faculty, educational contributions of our community partners, and the resulting enhanced community for us all."

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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741

Updated: April 10, 2003