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UW-Eau Claire Center for Service-Learning Presents Awards

RELEASED: May 4, 2009

EAU CLAIRE — Eleven people received awards at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's 11th annual Service-Learning Recognition Breakfast, held April 22 to honor the more than 500 community partners, project supervisors and UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff mentors who have contributed to the success of the university's service-learning program.

Service-learning has been a graduation requirement at UW-Eau Claire for 13 years. The theme for this year's event was "Everyone Can Be Great Because Everyone Can Serve" — Martin Luther King Jr.

Tim Helm, chief executive officer of the Dayton, Ohio, area YMCA, received the David G. Anderson Community Builder alumni award, which honors alumni who have made a career working in the non-profit sector. A $250 gift will be made to the YMCA in Helm's honor. Helm was recognized for his community building the $7.3 million Kleptz Family YMCA in Ohio. Kyle Buchman of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation accepted the award for Helm, who was not able to attend the breakfast.

Vicki Hoehn received the David G. Anderson Community Service alumni award, which recognizes continued commitment to community service and volunteerism. A 1980 graduate who has worked for Royal Credit Union for 26 years, Hoehn is RCU's executive vice president of marketing. She is president of the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and a member of the Eau Claire Noon Rotary Club. Throughout the years, she has volunteered with the Altoona Youth Hockey Association, American Heart Association, Eau Claire Women's Network, REACH Inc., Clear Vision Eau Claire, Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce, Grace Lutheran Church, Luther Hospital Community Service, United Way, Friends of Sacred Heart Hospital, North Barstow Medical, Downtown Eau Claire Inc. and Momentum Chippewa Valley. A $250 contribution will be made to a charity of her choice.

The David G. Anderson awards were made available by the Ruder Ware law firm to honor Anderson.

Lindsey Johnson, a marketing major from Wisconsin Rapids, and Wendy Weimerskirch, a sociology major from Plymouth, Minn., received Student Excellence in Service-Learning awards.

Johnson joined a student Campus Kitchens team as part of a community leadership course. She had previously visited D.C. Kitchens, the parent organization to the Campus Kitchens Project. She took a leadership role in developing the Campus Kitchens project at UW-Eau Claire, which was launched in February.

Weimerskirch pursued transformative learning experiences in two countries and cultures on two continents. She traveled to Uganda to distribute mosquito nets to widows and children with disabilities, and helped educate them about their use. She received grants for the Uganda trip as well as one to build a transportation bridge in El Fortin, Nicaragua.

The Excellence in Service-Learning as a Community Partner awards went to Eric Johnson, business development director at the First Bank of Baldwin and head of elementary basketball in Spring Valley, and to Suzie Slota, executive director of the Children's Museum of Eau Claire, and her staff.

Johnson was nominated by UW-Eau Claire student Aric Gregg, whose service-learning project was with Spring Valley elementary basketball. Johnson oversees the basketball program and supervises an adult and kids' open gym once a week. Gregg said much of Johnson's free time is spent making the programs run smoothly.

The Children's Museum of Eau Claire is an interactive environment for children inspiring imagination, discovery, creativity and the love of learning. The Center for Service-Learning has partnered with Slota and the staff of the museum since it opened in 2004. Since its inception, 52 UW-Eau Claire students have volunteered at the museum. In the past year, 15 students have assisted the museum with its activities and programs.

Dr. Terrence Chmielewski, professor of communication and journalism, and Dr. Simei Tong, professor of mathematics, received Faculty/Staff Excellence in Service-Learning awards.

Chmielewski has regularly embedded service-learning in courses and has given students learning experiences through problem-based learning assignments that tackle social issues. He had a public relations class create communication plans to further the goal of diversity on campus and in the community. In 2008, he had students develop a communication campaign to reduce alcohol abuse. His students clarified the social norms of drinking, educated students about patterns of drinking behaviors on campus and promoted alternative activities. He has served more students than almost any other faculty mentor or community partner.

In the years since Hurricane Katrina, Tong and her math students have worked with Clark County to design an evacuation plan for the city of Owen, which is potentially threatened by lake flooding and by train car spills. Their model was presented to a statewide meeting of the Wisconsin Emergency Management Association. They also worked with the computer science department to add a web-based interface to allow users to plan emergency responses. It was presented at the annual National Mathematics meeting and will be presented at the National Joint Mathematics Meeting. The mathematical modeling developed for the community evacuation also was used to develop a hospital evacuation. Tong is president of the Chinese Friendship and Scholarship Association and faculty adviser to two math student organizations.

For three years a grant has allowed the Eau Claire Area School District to work with the Center for Service-Learning to bring service-learning to all levels of education. Director Carole Spenser made a presentation about the project, along with teachers and students from the Putnam Heights Elementary School and South Middle School pilot projects. Fifth-graders at Putnam Heights raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Wisconsin. Their "Pennies for Patients" project goal was $800, but they raised $1,511.58. All 100 of South Middle School's 7th grade social studies students participated in a project. Using knowledge from a sociology unit, they went to four elementary schools (Flynn, Robbins, Meadowview and Manz) to teach third-graders about healthy lifestyle choices. They walked to the schools, where they performed skits they had created about healthy foods, participated in a physical activity to promote wellness, or created a healthy snack. Feedback from the schools was positive.

Senior Brittney Schedler, a music therapy major from Grafton, received the Mary Roelli Hilfiker Service Fellowship. On her service trip to Jamaica, she will provide a local school with much needed school supplies, work in HIV clinics, and provide tutoring and music therapy services. Schedler will work on functional goals with children who are deaf or who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. She also will work with geriatric clients in local infirmaries on increasing range of motion using percussion instruments and providing basic programming for those who typically spend their days in hospital beds.

The Sally A. Webb International Service Fellowship went to senior social work major Ashley Geitz, La Valle, who will travel to South Africa to work with a children's service agency. She will work with people who have survived Apartheid and with sexually abused, neglected, abandoned or HIV/AIDS positive children. She also will support youth in their transition to adult life.

Jasmine Wiley, a biology and American Indian studies major from Clintonville, received the Ryan Prechel Community Service Fellowship for her planned trip to a Navajo Reservation in Arizona. Wiley plans to work with Star School, emphasizing student-centered learning and projects and teaching sustainable lifestyles. She will assist teachers with lessons and field trips. She also plans to coach volleyball and cross country.

For more information on UW-Eau Claire's service-learning program, contact Dr. Donald Mowry, director of the Center for Service-Learning, at 715-836-4649.

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SB/NW

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