University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


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Eight Individuals Honored at UW-Eau Claire's
Service-Learning Recognition Breakfast

 MAILED:  April 28, 2003

EAU CLAIRE - Eight individuals received special awards at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's recent fifth annual Service-Learning Recognition Breakfast, held to honor the more than 500 community partners, project supervisors and UW-Eau Claire faculty mentors who have contributed to the success of the university's service-learning program.

The theme of this year's event was "Aim High," and Dr. Donald Mowry, director of the Center for Service-Learning, asked the "roomful of very committed and dedicated people" to get acquainted over breakfast and generate more "lofty goals" for the future enhancement of the community.

Mowry and Provost and Vice Chancellor Ron Satz presented Faculty/Academic Staff Member Excellence in Service-Learning Awards to Theresa Wells, senior lecturer in the department of management and marketing, Tom Bergmann, assistant dean of student affairs in the College of Business, and Allen Keniston, professor of psychology.

Wells was cited as being second only to Lucretia Mattison, recognized last year for excellence in Service-Learning, in the number of student service-learning projects she has faculty mentored. Mowry named more than 25 different agencies with which Wells' students have been involved.

Bergmann, who also has mentored dozens of service-learning students, has scholarly interests in the areas of conflict resolution, developing high performance teams, leadership and mentoring. Mowry said Bergmann's service-learning students often do projects that involve becoming better leaders and managers, such as serving as coaches or assistant coaches for area athletic teams.

Keniston, a faculty mentor for over 60 students just since January of 1999, has set an example for his students by participating in several alternative spring break trips to help the needy in Washington, D.C., and has been particularly recognized for his understanding and acceptance of students with disabilities.

Following breakfast, Mowry and students Caitlin McCullough, Mick Krueger and Jill Bryan introduced the Center for Service-Learning's newest venture, a project called First Book.

"First Book has a simple mission: to give children from low-income families their first new books," said Bryan, noting that 61 percent of low-income families have no age appropriate books for their children, and that those children lag far behind children from middle and upper income families in one-to-one reading time, vocabulary and other measures.

"The only behavioral measure that correlates consistently with reading scores is the number of books in the home," McCullough said.

UW-Eau Claire has formed a campus advisory board to select local literacy, mentoring and community tutoring programs to support through book grants for at-risk children. Some books are obtained through the national office of First Book, and the campus advisory board also will raise funds locally. Krueger said a tax-deductible donation of $5 will bring two books to a child from a low-income family. Attendees were invited to make donations and fill out bookplates naming the donors.

Krueger, who is on the advisory board, said he was grateful for the opportunity to introduce First Book at the breakfast and many people there offered assistance and ideas for fundraising. "The breakfast was a starting point, and we hope to expand from there," Krueger said. Total proceeds from the fund raising amounted to $270 or enough to purchase 108 new books.

Suzie Slota, director of the Eau Claire Children's Museum and supervisor for several service-learning students herself, assisted Mowry in presenting Excellence In Service-Learning as a Community Partner Awards to the Reverend Don Wisner, Lutheran pastor of the Ecumenical Religious Center on campus, and Laura Hookum, executive director of the L.E. Phillips Senior Center.

For the past 14 years Wisner has been one of the leaders and organizers of the alternative spring break trip to Washington, D.C. Wisner has stated that he wanted students to "go to a place where white people were a minority," because he thought it important for them to experience that. The program has recently expanded, offering assistance to social service agencies serving low-income areas of the nation's capital, in addition to the traditional community service in schools and shelters. Slota has participated in the trips with Wisner for many years.

Hookum has collaborated on several projects with UW-Eau Claire faculty and students, including working with Barbara Blackdeer MacKenzie's public relations class to develop a marketing plan for the senior center. She also has linked with several other faculty and staff members to encourage community/campus collaborations between the senior center and students from a variety of majors.

Valerie Mumm, Tomah, Lee Ann Pignet, Mukwonago, and Jennifer Ehlinger, Wabeno, received Student Excellence in Service-Learning Awards, presented by five other students who have demonstrated leadership in service-learning ventures.

Mumm and Pignet, both senior Spanish majors, were recognized for their initiative in starting the Spanish in the Schools project, which has introduced Spanish language instruction to elementary-aged children beginning at the second grade level. The project was funded through a generous gift to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation by Mari Jo Janke, director of UW-Eau Claire Publications. In addition to developing the curriculum and pioneering the language instruction, Mumm and Pignet are now offering a summer course for the community and also have turned this pilot community service-learning project into a student/faculty collaborative research project.

Ehlinger, a junior special education major, was cited for offering valuable assistance to Donna Lehmkuhl, the new Site Manager of Jumpstart Eau Claire, as she worked into her new position. According to Mowry, Ehlinger also had a huge impact on the Truax Headstart Center and the child who was her one-to-one match for the Jumpstart sessions. Before becoming a Jumpstart corps member, Ehlinger worked at the UW-Eau Claire Children's Center for three years, where one teacher described her as dependable, trustworthy and mature, with a wonderful personality. She helped train new assistants that came to the classroom and participated in all the activities throughout the center.

Ehlinger, who was unable to attend the breakfast because of injuries she suffered in an automobile accident earlier this spring, was contacted by phone during the breakfast and commented on how much she misses the child she is paired with through Jumpstart. She plans to return to school and the Jumpstart program in the fall.

For more information on UW-Eau Claire's service-learning program, contact Mowry at (715) 836-4649.


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

Updated: April 28, 2003