For years, the SUNY Fredonia campus has been a driving force behind volunteer efforts found throughout the community. To discuss its most recent volunteering accomplishments throughout the year, the Office of Volunteer and Community Services hosted "Engaging in Our Community: Learning through Service" Tuesday afternoon at the Williams Center.
The program, which featured a panel of faculty and staff members representing various campus areas, was designed to recognize the accomplishments and progress of students, faculty and community partners in service learning, while raising awareness about future volunteer opportunities as well.
"When Joyce Smith, Office of Volunteer and Community Services coordinator, and I developed this engaging series idea a few years ago, one of the objectives was to further the dialog between the campus community and the surrounding community to understand what connections exist on campus and in the community and to learn how to strengthen those partnerships to develop new opportunities," said Moderator David Rankin, from the Department of Political Science. "Our first discussion, which was a few years back, was entitled 'Research and Impact' and that focused on faculty led efforts with student assistance in the community including: Biological research improving the quality of local lakes; music therapy in assisting the retired community; regional cemetery mapping; and public relations assistance, to name a few."
OBSERVER Photo by Michael Rukavina
Dr. Michael Jabot from the School of Education at SUNY Fredonia explains how the volunteer efforts to enhance science education through the program will be looking to focus on pre-kindergarten through second graders.
The forum held Tuesday was the third event of the "Engaging in Our Community" series and it focused on the idea of service learning and how it brings the college classroom into the community, and the community into the classroom.
"Typically some component of the course asks the student to engage the community in some way to connect with their learning in the course of real-life application outside of the course to learn through service," Rankin said.
Featured panelists included faculty members Michael Jabot and Helen Reddy from the School of Education, Rebecca Conti from the Department of Mathematical Sciences, Emily VanDette from the Department of English, Kim Weborg-Benson from the Department of Geosciences, and Anand Perala, who serves as the campus' Americorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) volunteer through the Office of Campus Life.
"We organized three to four choices a semester for what students could do, and I asked them not to take the shortest, easiest one, but what helps them the most with their field placements," Conti said regarding how her department was involved. "What we had was a connection with Northern Chautauqua Catholic School in Dunkirk, and that gave us that wide range of possibilities for students to go out and interact with children at different levels if they wanted ... NCCS students have an understanding and an open mind for mathematics, and college students have an impact on that development."
According to the Office of Volunteer and Community Services, during the current academic year, Fredonia students have performed over 9,550 hours of community service thus far, ranging from volunteering at local soup kitchens, raking leaves throughout the community, tutoring and mentoring children, running campus donation drives, and participating in fundraisers such as the Aids Walk, Out of Darkness Walk, Sing for a Cure, Operation Breakfast Rescue and many more.
"We're visiting the community on a much broader base ... you need a passport to get to our destination," said Helen Reddy from the School of Education, whose group goes to Belize for the Belize International Service Learning Project to deliver services and supplies to school children. Although in a much broader sense, the group of students who travel to Belize are just another extension of how students on campus volunteer their time and efforts. The group traveling next year will actually be holding a car wash fundraiser at Walmart this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with all proceeds going toward school supplies to take to Belize.
Angela Spara, a Volunteer Services student intern who serves as a member on the Volunteer Services Advisory Committee, helped coordinate the event.
To find out more information about SUNY Fredonia volunteer efforts, or to view the VCS Advisory Committee member list, please visit www.fredonia.edu/campuslife/volunteer/.
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