University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

NEWS RELEASE

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phone: (715) 836-4741
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Lindsey Nelson Selected as Student
To Lead Civic Engagement Efforts


 MAILED:  Sept. 1, 2004

EAU CLAIRE — Lindsey Nelson, a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire senior from St. Paul, Minn., is one of 16 students from Wisconsin colleges to be selected as a 2004-05 Student Civic Leadership Fellow by Wisconsin Campus Compact and the Upper Midwest Campus Compact Consortium.

Both organizations are part of the National Campus Compact, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting community service in higher education.

Nelson, a comprehensive criminal justice major, was nominated for the honor by Jodi Thesing-Ritter, associate dean of student development at UW-Eau Claire.

"Lindsey Nelson is one of those amazing students we all love to work with," said Thesing-Ritter. "She is intelligent, hard working and committed to leaving the world a better place …I have been especially impressed with her ability to inspire others to reach their own potential."

Nelson was a resident assistant in Governors Hall and served as United Hall Council president and chair of the Wisconsin United Residence Hall Association State Conference. She is the public relations chair for Student Senate and works as a housing specialist in the Housing and Residence Life Resource Center. She spent the summer teaching English in China.

The Student Civic Leadership Fellows program supports and promotes students as powerful student leaders, and one of Nelson's first duties as a leadership fellow will be to join the 15 other Wisconsin fellows, along with selected students from colleges in Minnesota and Iowa, at the second annual Student Civic Leadership Conference, to be held Sept. 9-12 at the Beaver Creek Reserve in Fall Creek.

The students gathering at Beaver Creek Reserve will learn about the civic engagement movement taking place in higher education across the country, consider the responsibilities of citizenship, and work together to develop action plans for providing leadership for civic engagement on their own campuses. In preparation for the conference, they were asked to read "The New Student Politics: The Wingspread Statement on Civic Engagement," which documents how 33 juniors and seniors from colleges and universities across the country defined service, politics and civic engagement at the Wingspread Summit on Student Civic Engagement, held in March 2001 at the Johnson Foundation in Racine.

Nelson said that thinking of herself and her peers as the country's up-and-coming leaders was always a bit daunting, until she broke down the possibilities for making a difference in her "little area of the world" — within her circle of friends, the residence hall, the university or the city.

"As I read about student civic engagement, I felt as though my small attempts to reach out weren't so small, and more importantly, that those attempts can become even more powerful and substantive," said Nelson. "The power of service-learning can inspire hope and motivation to make abundant changes within our society. In a hopeful, rather than a naïve sense, that power makes the expectations of making significant changes in this world a little less impossible."

Last year, two students from UW-Eau Claire attended the first leadership institute, held in Eden Prairie, Minn. They returned to campus to help, among other things, with the February "Raise Your Voice" campaign, encouraging other students to get involved in various ways, such as writing letters to legislators about local, state and national issues or participating in student government or community/campus cooperative efforts.

Donald Mowry, director of the Center for Service-Learning at UW-Eau Claire, said this effort complements other campus efforts, such as the American Democracy Project, that work to dispel the notion that today's students are disengaged because of disillusionment with politics or the government.

"We are proud of the fact that UW-Eau Claire has been a leader in promoting service-learning, was a charter member of the Wisconsin Campus Compact, and has participated in the American Democracy Project from its inception as a pilot project," said Mowry. "Lindsey is a great example of just how engaged our UW-Eau Claire students are."

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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
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Updated: September 1, 2004