MAILED: June 21, 2000
The Center for Service-Learning at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire recognized several community project supervisors at the second annual Project Supervisor Recognition Breakfast on June 6.
About 45 people, including community members and university faculty, attended the breakfast at First Presbyterian Church in Eau Claire. Hundreds of people from around the country, community and university are program supervisors for UW-Eau Claire's service-learning program.
All students at UW-Eau Claire must complete 30 hours of service-learning activity before they graduate. This activity might be planning a carnival for a grade school or creating a brochure for the food pantry.
One of the most popular ways to fulfill the service-learning requirement is to help with the Special Olympics, Robert Burns, director of service-learning, said.
Community project supervisors play a key role in providing the students with thoughtfully organized service experiences.
Chancellor Donald Mash and Burns gave a brief welcome. Ann Lapp, dean of students, and Justin Hentges, Student Senate president, spoke at the breakfast.
"The community partners were a highly motivated group even though they did not have a vote when UW-Eau Claire approved the service-learning program," Lapp said. Nonetheless, there has been a lot of positive feedback from the community. "Students clearly made a significant contribution to their organization," she said.
Hentges said everyone is able to take something from service-learning including the supervisors. "You can't do something for someone else without doing something for yourself."
Christa Satz, a project supervisor at Putnam Heights Elementary School in Eau Claire, agreed. She said she has been able to exchange ideas with the students she has worked with.
"Service-learning brings about what we want in our students - a liberally educated person," Hentges said.
"We wanted to engage all students, not just some students," Lapp said.
A lot of students are interested in helping out and don't know where to start.
The service-learning requirement makes it easier and more comfortable for the students who want to become involved with their community.
"We really did want a model to show students how to apply knowledge while connecting to the community," Lapp said.
Some students continue to work in the community beyond the 30 required hours. When students volunteer at Bolton Refuge House, they have to work at least 50 hours because it takes awhile for them to get trained in, Burns said.
Other programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters require extra time commitment too.
Students who sign up for this know they will likely put in more than the required amount of hours.
Eau Claire is the only university in the University of Wisconsin System to have a service-learning requirement.
"This sets Eau Claire apart from other campuses," Hentges said.
Lapp has been with the program since it began, and she said program coordinators had specific goals in mind.
"We wanted to begin the service-learning program with a successful community initiative, one that would be a testimony to our commitment," Lapp said. "Whatever we did, it had to be successful."
The program was intended to meet the standards of educational excellence and, at the same time, enhance the community.
"One of our goals was to develop a more engaged and connected university," she said.
Even the proceeds from the breakfast prepared by First Presbyterian Church parishioners will go to a worthy cause - to build a cabin at the denomination's summer camp.
"There really are incredible benefits of a university and community partnership working together," Lapp said.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: June 26, 2000