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Nine individuals honored at Service-Learning Recognition Breakfast

RELEASED: May 13, 2010

EAU CLAIRE — Nine people received awards at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's 12th annual Service-Learning Recognition Breakfast April 21 on campus. More than 500 community partners, project supervisors and UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff mentors also were honored for contributing to the success of the university's service-learning program.

Service-learning has been a graduation requirement at UW-Eau Claire for the past 14 years. The theme for this year's event was Winston Churchill's statement "We make a living by what we do, we make a life by what we give."

Carole Halberg, a UW-Eau Claire alumna and executive director of the St. Mary's Foundation at St. Mary's Hospital in Madison, received the David G. Anderson Community Builder Alumni Award, which honors alumni who have made a career working in the nonprofit sector. A $250 gift will be made to St. Mary's Hospital in Halberg's honor.

Halberg previously served as president of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation and special assistant to UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Emeritus Donald Mash. She initiated and led the university's successful "Fulfilling the Promise of Excellence" fundraising campaign. Carole and her husband, Wayne Halberg, also established a UW-Eau Claire scholarship fund in memory of Carole's mother, Alma Swan.

Claire and Marge Johnson, both UW-Eau Claire graduates, received the David G. Anderson Community Service Alumni Award, which recognizes continued commitment to community service and volunteerism. A $250 contribution will be made to a charity of their choice.

Claire Johnson is a retired CEO of Group Health of Eau Claire, and Marge Johnson is a retired kindergarten teacher. Together they established the Endeavor Foundation, which provides major gifts to support the Children's Museum of Eau Claire as well as the Boys and Girls Club of the Greater Chippewa Valley. Claire Johnson also is a founding member of the Chippewa Valley Angel Investors Network, which supports entrepreneurship. He also has helped establish the Elizabeth A. Brinn Foundation in Milwaukee. The Johnsons both serve on the foundation's board and were instrumental in helping establish Milwaukee's Betty Brinn Children's Museum.

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

Seniors Christopher Blume, a psychology major from Appleton, Sarah Gonzalez, a psychology major from Sheboygan, and Nicholas Handahl, a music major from Onalaska, received Student Excellence in Service-Learning Awards.

Blume volunteered for the Fox Valley Sibling Support Network in Appleton, working on "Sib Days of Summer," which is designed for kids ages 6-12 who have a sibling with special needs or a long-term illness.

According to Harriet Redman, Blume's project supervisor, his leadership contributed to the success of the program. "He showed great respect for the children, volunteers and directors and was an excellent role model for the children, as well as other counselors," said Redman.

Gonzalez is a resident assistant in Putnam Hall. She has worked on a faculty-student collaborative research project, served as stage manager and performer for The Vagina Monologues, and was a coordinator and organizer for three Civil Rights pilgrimages, a topic she recently presented at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity.

"Sarah has volunteered more than 500 hours of her time to develop and implement this program," said Jodi Thesing-Ritter, associate dean of students. "Her work has helped to increase awareness of racism and its impact on our world."

Handahl has been a section leader for the Eau Claire Jazz Festival for the past three years. According to festival director Patti Horecki, Handahl brought "enthusiasm and ease" to his sectional students.

"Nick has given more than 100 percent during his time with us. He exemplifies the qualities of a dedicated educator, mentor and team player," Horecki said.

The Excellence in Service-Learning as a Community Partner awards went to Holly Moe, director of The Community Table and to Longfellow Elementary School. Sarah Fisher, Longfellow principal, and Holly Larson, Longfellow partnership coordinator, accepted the award for the school.

Moe was recognized for outstanding leadership during a time of major transition. The Community Table provides free meals to those in need and an ongoing opportunity for area residents — including UW-Eau Claire students, faculty and staff — to give back to the community. Moe has collaborated with the Center for Service-Learning and has supported its emerging Campus Kitchen. She is active with the Hunger Prevention Coalition and participated in the planning and execution of the hunger and homeless awareness event called "A Day with Nowhere to Stay."

Longfellow Elementary School is pioneering the concept of university-assisted community schools. Four days per week, 20-30 UW-Eau Claire students get hands-on experience through the 21st Century Community Learning Center.

"Holly Larson has extended and opened up the CLC program to UW-Eau Claire physical education majors," said Erin Johnson, associate lecturer of kinesiology. "Our students have multiple opportunities to teach physical education lessons to the Longfellow students and the freedom to create lesson plans and collaborate with others in a school setting."

Jodi Thesing-Ritter, associate dean of students, and Dr. Vladimir Kotomin, associate professor of accounting and finance, received Faculty/Staff Excellence in Service-Learning awards.

Thesing-Ritter is responsible for a wide range of student services and works to secure external funding to support the implementation of innovative programs that promote student success and development. Two such examples are the new Blugold Beginnings program, a pre-college access program that pairs UW-Eau Claire students with youth in area schools; and Project Eye to Eye, a mentoring program for students with learning disabilities. Thesing-Ritter also has served as a faculty mentor for the Northwestern Spring Travelling Volleyball Project and helped initiate the Civil Rights Pilgrimage, an opportunity for students to visit sites of historic importance to the U.S. civil rights movement. As part of the trip, Thesing-Ritter incorporates a community service-learning opportunity.

Kotomin was instrumental in the implementation of the Financial Literacy Improvement Program, which matches UW-Eau Claire business students with low-income families and individuals needing financial advising assistance. FLIP volunteers teach basic budgeting techniques and help families establish an overall financial plan for the future. The program is a joint venture between the department of accounting and finance and the Western Dairyland Community Action Agency. Students satisfy their service-learning requirement, gain valuable experience and can earn an additional academic credit by participating as a financial literacy mentor. Kotomin spoke about the FLIP program and recognized alumna Anna Cardarella for initiating the program.

For the past four years a Learn and Serve Collaboration 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. Ann Franke, director of secondary education, and Wendy Johnson, a member of the Eau Claire School Board, introduced students and teachers from DeLong Middle School and North High School who presented their Learn and Serve projects.

DeLong Middle School students from Kathy Look's seventh grade social studies classes shared their MidKNIGHTSnacks service-learning experience. The students recognized a need and created a healthy snacks business for after-school events. All the food was approved by the Wellness Warriors, another group whose job is to make sure that all food at DeLong is nutritious and affordable. All the profits go back to the school to help students with activity fees and to purchase athletic equipment when needed. The MidKNIGHTS have already paid back their creditors and are looking forward to another successful quarter.

Prime Products, another DeLong Middle School student service-learning project, brings together students from all abilities and allows them to be creative in exploring, designing and developing a variety of products. Students learn about budgeting, ordering and marketing, as well as the creative aspects of production because they must order the supplies needed for their product lines. Students develop skills, learn to work together and experience "real life" situations.

Two senior students from North High School's "English for the 21st Century" course presented their service-learning research and recognized teachers Danielle Richardson and Paulette Sampson for their guidance.

Donald Mowry, director of the UW-Eau Claire Center for Service-Learning, received an award of recognition from the Eau Claire Area School District.

The Sally A. Webb International Service Fellowship was awarded to senior psychology major Anna Rose Ott, Brooklyn, who will travel to the University of Ghana-Legon in Accra, Ghana, to volunteer at the Autism Awareness Care and Training Centre. Ott plans to work in the health care setting as a child life specialist.

Senior political science major Jeff Glowa, Bloomington, Minn., received the Ryan Prechel Community Service Fellowship on behalf of the "Foodlums," a UW-Eau Claire student gardening organization that maintains an on-campus vegetable garden located in the Phillips Hall courtyard. The garden serves as a training ground for students who want to grow their own produce. The Foodlums plan to expand the garden's capacity to make contributions to local nonprofits including the Food Pantry, The Community Table and the future Valleybrook Homeless Center.

Others honorees were DeLong Middle School seventh-grade social studies teachers Jennifer Birkholz and Kathleen Look and art teachers Kathy Bareis and Kristin Webert; South Middle School seventh-grade social studies teacher Ruth O'Neill; Northstar Middle School seventh-grade social studies teachers Amy Carlson-Sather and Jed Stutzman; North High School reading teacher Paulette Sampson and English teacher Danielle Richardson. Franke received an award of recognition presented by Mary Kay Kopf, Learn and Serve coordinator for the Eau Claire Area School District.

For more information about the UW-Eau Claire service-learning program, contact Dr. Donald Mowry, director of the Center for Service-Learning, at 715-836-4649, or visit the center's website, www.uwec.edu/sl.

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SB/RD/DW

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