Collaboration and Creativity
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the WSU virtual experience this fall semester, we at the CCE persisted in convening partners, students, and faculty to consider frameworks other than in-person engagement. We all moved toward innovative and creative solutions and forged a stronger connection to our shared land-grant mission - especially important in a time when inequities and community needs became more apparent. Virtual service-learning removed geographical constraints and involved WSU students across the globe that ignited a sense of civic responsibility, social advocacy, and increased democratic engagement. Through our collaborative partnerships, we all played an important role in preparing WSU students as the next generation of socially responsible and globally-minded civic leaders committed to positive change, and we are excited to share some examples in this edition of The Engaged Scholar.
Ben Calabretta and Jessica Perone, CCE Academic Programs
Camp Korey provides year-round, week-long, residential summer camp experiences for youth with life-altering medical conditions and a variety of disabilities at no cost to the families. Camp Korey's virtual service project opportunities provided an avenue for WSU students to promote equitable camp experiences, address the health disparities this population faces, and creatively engage youth in healthy behaviors while they are at home due to COVID-19. Due to the pandemic, Camp Korey suspended in-person camp experiences and quickly pivoted to an "At Home Camp Kit" model. Early in the semester, Camp Korey posted multiple virtual opportunities on GivePulse, such as creating camp kits, painting rocks for beautification of the campgrounds, friendship bracelets, "warm-fuzzies", sewing pillowcases, writing notes of encouragement, and designing unique coloring pages. These opportunities were shared broadly with WSU students in service-learning courses and over 180 projects were delivered to Camp Korey. In all, over 100 WSU students provided over 1100 hours of support through service-learning projects with Camp Korey this fall!
Matthew Wyatt, Global Violence Against Women (CRIM_J 403) student and Senior Pastor at Waitsburg Christian Church, found the events with Camp Korey to be so inspirational and rewarding, he was moved to invite his local community and church congregation through social media to join him. Although there were many virtual projects to choose from, Matt chose Camp Korey due to a personal connection to youth with autism. After sharing the mission and needs of Camp Korey with his network on social media, he collected and donated over 400 Camp Kit Boxes and additional supplies for activities to add to previously assembled boxes. Matt stated, "We had a cafe in town do a fundraiser and placed boxes inside the building to get donations. We had families from all over Washington state use it as a time to work with their families and teach them about giving back through making the kits. Some of those families even drove the kits to our house (one family drove 4 hours) to drop them off. We had someone from Los Angeles send us two packages with kits and had financial donations toward shipping come in from as far as Florida."
Matt connected the themes of empathy and respect between the concepts he was learning in his course and his participation in the virtual service-learning projects with Camp Korey. "In my Violence Towards Women class, I read over and over how hard it was for these victims to get relief. For someone to listen to them and find empathy towards their situation. This is the connection I made. Camp Korey is all about empathy. The volunteers seem to put themselves in the shoes of the camper, no matter their situation, and try to make their life a bit more joyful and happy. I made the connection to this camp and how the world SHOULD be." The pandemic has challenged and required students, community partners, and institutions to discover new ways of connecting with our communities. Virtual community engagement is not only a way to support initiatives like Camp Korey, but also for students to maintain a sense of social connectedness and purpose during a period of isolation and social restrictions.
Janet Peters, WSU Tri-Cities Clinical Associate Professor in Psychology and 2017 CCE Faculty Fellow, and students in Statistics in Psychology (Psych 311) analyzed Camp Korey’s post-camp survey data by applying the statistical concepts and skills they were learning in the course. The students analyzed the data to see what storylines and themes were present that will assist in the future development of surveys, programming, curriculum, and future grant writing. The class will provide Camp Korey with a detailed final report of the analyses. This type of reciprocal partnership with mutually beneficial outcomes provides the students the opportunity to make meaningful connections resulting in a purposeful learning experience and data-driven decisions for the community partner (Harrington & Schibik, 2004).
Transformative Learning Experiences
Jesse Brunner, Associate Professor of Biology and 2020 College of Arts & Sciences Community Engaged Scholar, Erin Keller, and small teams of 36 students in Ecology of Health and Disease (Biology 370) partnered with Palouse Discovery Science Center (PDSC). The teams created activities, displays, exhibits, and written materials based on the needs of PDSC and the topics learning in the course. The students translated the course content into age-appropriate information for the youth and families that visit the PDSC. The teams created materials based on topics including the diversity of pathogens and parasites, microbiomes, diversity of hosts, spillover, One Health, and transmission.
Juan Caceres, Biology 370 student, reported the service-learning course project positively impacted his academic and professional goals. The personal growth, leadership development, teamwork skills and meaningful personal insights are all products of successful service-learning projects (Ejiwale, 2013). Juan stated he gained a deeper understanding of the course material when challenged to think creatively about the topics and develop fun strategies to demonstrate and translate the main ideas intended for a younger audience. Juan feels this project will benefit his professional development and career aspirations in the medical field. He hopes to have the opportunity to "... explain to others about the intricacies of host diversity and how it applies to real-life instances and pandemics such as the one we are living in today."
Jessica Perone and Ben Calabretta of the Center for Civic Engagement co-taught Introduction to Community Engagement, Honors 211, which is a part of the Mindfulness-based Social and Emotional Intelligence (MESI) Certificate in the Honors College. The goal of the MESI Certificate is to provide students with the tools to improve their performance, relationships, health, and happiness. Honors 211 introduces topics such as reciprocal relationships, principles of partnerships, democratic engagement, critical reflection, and perspective-taking to prepare them for success personally, academically, and professionally. The students participated in at least two virtual service-learning projects of their choice, interacted with a variety of guest speakers, and participated in thought-provoking discussions and critical reflection throughout the semester.
Gavin Cherveny, first-year student in Honors 211, is dedicated to empowering youth to live healthy and happy lifestyles through sports. Gavin participated in virtual service-learning projects with Families Together and Special Olympics of Washington. Gavin stated, "the most important thing I learned was that community engagement isn’t satisfied by hourly work, rather the significant impact one has on others. The most satisfying part from my experiences in Honors 211 was how the course encouraged me to vote. I wasn't planning on participating in this year's election, but this class taught me the importance of democracy and civil engagement. This was super important to me because I felt the importance of being a part of something bigger than myself.”
Olivia Mayer, first-year student in Honors 211, has a passion for supporting community members experiencing homelessness. She completed her service-learning project with Blessings Under the Bridge in Spokane, WA. Service-learning is most successful when the students connect their personal passions to a community-identified need (Goertzen & Greenleaf, 2016). This experience not only brought awareness to Olivia about social determinates of health and the multiple social issues impacting homelessness, but it also solidified her professional goals after graduation, bringing to light the importance of engagement being a life-long commitment. By exploring public service and participating in meaningful work through service-learning, students can explore personal interests, build networks, and consider how commitments to civic engagement can be included in their career in the future (Mitchell & Rost-Banik, 2019). Olivia stated, “not only will this experience help me serve others now, but it will also contribute to my future career. Ever since I can remember I have always aspired to join the medical field, and now I have narrowed my choices to one; a dermatologist."
Madelyn "Madee" Butcher, Hospitality and Business Management (HBM 381) student, found participating in three virtual service-learning opportunities fundamentally challenged her assumptions, beliefs, and values while simultaneously affecting how she understood herself, academic coursework, and others. Madee is a third-year student and is seeking a major in Hospitality Business Management and a minor in Human Resources. HMB 381 students on the Pullman, Global, and Everett campuses participate in a minimum of five hours of service-learning projects each semester with the goal of deepening their leadership skills, gaining a comprehensive understanding of course content, and connecting their academic knowledge to real-world issues. Ejiwale (2013) stated that service-learning allows students to discover their talents, develop interpersonal skills, and develop leadership skills that cannot be taught within the physical classroom environment. Service-learning provides the space for students to exhibit their excellence and gain invaluable skills, which prepares them to be socially conscious and civically engaged community members post-graduation. Madee articulated her reflections regarding the meaningful service-learning experiences in this video.
CCE Faculty Fellows Highlights
Michael Berger, 2017 CCE Faculty Fellow, WSU Vancouver: Michael continues to include service-learning in Environment, Human Life, and Sustainability, SOE 110. During the Fall 2020 semester, students completed nearly 60 hours of service-learning projects focusing on environmental justice and restoration with 9 community partners in the Vancouver, WA community.
Samantha Gizerian, 2017 CCE Faculty Fellow, WSU Pullman: In the spring, Samantha plans to implement a service-learning project with the Neuroscience Capstone Senior Project course, NEUROSCI 490. WSU students will create videos explaining and demonstrating functions and structures of the brain intended for 4th and 5th grade audiences during Brain Awareness Week (March 2021). The videos will be viewed by the 4th and 5th grade students at Franklin Elementary and Colton Elementary. The WSU students and 4th and 5th grade students will meet virtually over zoom for questions, comments, and feedback.
Cassandra Gulam, 2017 CCE Faculty Fellow, WSU Vancouver: Cassandra's Spanish 306 course provided support to the Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Washington by translating agency forms for Spanish speaking parents and participants to promote greater access to and consent for programming. Spanish Special Projects (Spanish 499) students provided translation support to both the Free Clinic and to the Clark Dental program to ensure equitable access and quality care for the patients being served.
Sammy Perone, 2017 CCE Faculty Fellow, WSU Pullman: Sammy's lab, "The Lab for the Developing Mind" includes a community resources tab on the lab's website with resources that are intended to be accessible and useful for community partners. "The Developing Minds" is a recent service-learning project led by an undergraduate student. It is intended to bring current child development research findings to new audiences such as childcare providers and families in an understandable fashion. Resources for families and community partners are available on the site with a hyperlink.
Johnny Lupinacci, 2017 CCE Faculty Fellow, WSU Pullman: Johnny participated as a panelist in the CCE Environmental Justice Public Square this fall. Johnny discussed how environmental justice seeks to provide healthy environments for all communities regardless of color, wealth, or place of origin.
CCE Community Engaged Graduate Students (CGGS) December issue. Click here.
Ejiwale, J. (2013). Leadership Skills Development through Service Learning. Journal of Education and Learning. Vol.7 (3) pp. 187-192.
Goertzen, B. & Greenleaf, J. (2016). A Student-Led Approach to eService-Learning: A Case Study on Service Project Effectiveness within a Fieldwork in Leadership Studies Course. International Journal of Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement. Vol. 4 (1) pp. 119-135.
Harrington, C & Schibik, T. (2004). Service Learning in the Introductory Statistics Course: A Primer for Engagement. Proceedings of the Midwest Business Economics Association, pp. 123-129.
Mitchell, T. & Rost-Banik, C. (2019). How Sustained Service-Learning Experiences Inform Career Pathways. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning. Winter, 2019 pp. 18-29.