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Service-learning success story: part 1

| Lucy Grogan-Ripp

Walking around the spring Community Action Fair, the Center for Service Learning was able to connect with a few individuals who had especially unique service experiences that led them from volunteer to intern or full time employee. In this series, they share their remarkable stories with us.

Information, Entertainment, Education: All important concepts on their own, but unstoppable when woven together. It was these 3 ideals that paved the way for Heather Harkins as she searched for service-learning opportunities and eventually found her home at Chippewa Valley Community Television (CVCT). In fact, on CVCT’s official website, you will see this trio of words plastered across the top of the screen. CVCT’s dedication to information, entertainment, and education is such that they proudly don it as their official slogan.

CVCT is greatly unique in that they are non profit based. In a sense, this public access channel is the Chippewa Valley’s very own version of PBS. CVCT does not air commercials and all content is 100% community based. These unique qualities, among many others, are what appealed to Heather Harkins when she initially signed up to be a volunteer. “The organization ensures that the city and county board meetings, planning commission meetings, and school board meetings for Eau Claire are recorded, preserved, and accessible for a more informed local citizenship,” Heather explained.

Heather’s time spent at CVCT was not limited to one area or duty, as she was able to gain valuable experience in various roles at the station. Not only was Heather able to work directly with public broadcasting, she was able to train interested community members in all things television. “Community members may come in and become trained in video camera operation, set design/lighting, sound and control board operation, video directing and editing, green screen use, script writing, event planning, marketing, web design, social media management, and much more,” says Heather.

Unlike most service-learning experiences, Heather’s time with CVCT did not end upon completing her required 30 hours of service. Heather continued on as a volunteer and ended up dedicating more than 2,000 hours to CVCT in only 3 years time. That’s more than 600 hours every year. She was awarded the Student Excellence in Service-Learning award in 2017 for above and beyond service. She now works for CVCT and represents their booth at the Community Action Fair.

Heather’s enthusiasm for CVCT was such that she recruited her classmate, Wyatt Biegel, to sign up as well. “We met in a creative writing class at UWEC four years ago and automatically clicked,” Heather says of her friendship with Wyatt. She knew right away that, much like herself, Wyatt would fit in seamlessly at CVCT.

Fast forward to February 2018 where Wyatt has become an integral member of CVCT’s volunteer staff. In essence, Wyatt serves as CVCT’s ‘jack of all trades’. Not only does Wyatt cover all local government shoots, he also runs the station’s marketing, volunteer coordination, and even construction projects.

Both Heather and Wyatt’s experiences at CVCT serve as evidence of the organization’s rich and diverse opportunities for service. Whether your interest lies in information, entertainment, education, or maybe even all 3, CVCT has service-learning opportunities waiting just for you.