University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

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UW-Eau Claire Honors
Service-Learning Partners

 MAILED:  April 26, 2004

EAU CLAIRE — Nine people received awards at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s recent sixth annual Service-Learning Recognition Breakfast.

The breakfast honors the more the 500 community partners, project supervisors and UW-Eau Claire faculty mentors who help the service-learning program succeed. This year’s event theme was “Make the Connection,” recognizing the mission of a liberal arts education to help prepare students to be citizens in a participatory democracy, said Dr. Donald Mowry, director of the Center for Service-Learning.

UW-Eau Claire Faculty members Lisa Theo and Dr. Paula Kleintjes received Faculty/Academic Staff Member Excellence in Service-Learning awards.

Theo, a lecturer of geography and anthropology, teaches classes, pursues research and was a mentor for 30 co-curricular service-learning projects. She’s active in the Wisconsin Women in Higher Education Leadership movement and led UW-Eau Claire delegations to the Wisconsin Economic Summit, said Mowry.

“In addition to being a devoted mother, and the only person in her family to receive a college degree, Lisa is a wonderfully tireless individual who serves every day as an inspiration to myself and our three boys by demonstrating that education is limitless, ageless, and like life itself, should always be embraced,” said Chris Theo, Lisa’s husband and a professor of art & design at UW-Eau Claire.

As a faculty mentor to 25 students and 27 community service-learning projects, Kleintjes helped integrate service-learning into science curriculum, Mowry said. Kleintjes, a biology professor and department chair, and the Beaver Creek Citizen Science Center, recently received an Engaged Department Grant award through the Upper Midwest Campus Compact Consortium. The award will forward an innovative citizen scientist concept to expand civic engagement across all age groups in environmental preservation and restoration efforts, Mowry said.

“We do what we do because we believe in the connection, which, in my case, means connecting students with nature and environmental stewardship,” Kleintjes said.

Receiving Excellence In Service-Learning as a Community Partner Awards were Lucianne Boardman, Reading Partner Program coordinator; Julie Harnish, director of Children’s House — Montessori; Darwin Wassink, director of the 3-5 Club; and Becky Wurzer, director of UW-Eau Claire’s Children’s Center.

Boardman, as coordinator of the Reading Partner Program through the Eau Claire Area School District, recruits, trains and places more than 160 UW-Eau Claire students as reading partners to elementary and middle school youth each semester. She is active in the Eau Claire Literacy Action Network and plans the Literacy Renaissance Festival.

Harnish, with the Children’s House Montessori School for 26 years and director since 1989, was recognized for implementing the Jumpstart program and advocating for its continuation when it was faced with a funding crisis.

After retiring from UW-Eau Claire’s economics department, Wassink started an after-school program for children in 2000. The 3-5 Club provides a safe place for children to study, play and make friends. UW-Eau Claire students serve as tutors, mentors and role models.

“Darwin Wassink is one of the warmest, most caring men with great compassion for children … the children who come to the 3-5 Club know he cares for them and is there to help meet their needs,” said Barbara Rolland, professor emerita of foreign languages.

The UW-Eau Claire Children’s Center provides quality, affordable on-campus child care for children of students, faculty, staff and community members. Wurzer, a teacher and assistant director before becoming director in 2002, helped UW-Eau Claire begin a Jumpstart program, and she’s welcomed students from many majors, Mowry said. Under her leadership, the center received accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, making it among the 7 percent of early childhood programs nationwide to earn the distinction.

Kali Pace-Graczyk, Stevens Point; Mark Lee, Appleton; and Luke Peters, Appleton; received Student Excellence in Service-Learning Awards.

Last summer Pace-Graczyk helped map the vast underground expanses of Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota. While at Wind Cave, she began researching the origin of a lake that mysteriously appeared in the cave in 1999. Her work there will continue this summer. She also led two Outdoor Leadership Clinics, matching UW-Eau Claire students with middle-school students — most of whom had never experienced outdoor activities.

Lee and Peters created Students Building Communities Through Service, an organization for students who want to change their lives and the lives of others through service. They spent a semester in Natchitoches, La., rehabilitating houses, in New Orleans renovating a recreation room for the Boys Hope and Girls Hope home and school, and in Mexico building a parish community church. They also led Spring Break trips to Detroit to help package medical supplies for Third World countries and a return to Louisiana to continue the housing restoration service.

“The thing I find most satisfying about working for Project SBCTS is that it can provide awesome opportunities for college students to travel, learn about themselves, find their niche through giving to others, strengthen the human condition and help people in need,” Peters said.

Breakfast participants also donated $200 (the equivalent of 80 books) to the First Book Program, which gives children from low-income families their first new books.

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
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Updated: April 26, 2004