New service learning program to send MU students across Missouri

Thursday, May 1, 2014 | 6:57 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Within the next 10 years, all 114 Missouri counties could serve as sites for MU student service trips.

That goal is part of a new service learning program through MU Extension and the Center for Leadership and Service. In the program, each of the extension program's eight regions will provide ideas for service opportunities to the leadership center. Students at the center will narrow the ideas to eight projects — one for each region. Groups of MU students will complete the projects on weekend trips.

"It's really student-driven," said Joy Millard, MU Extension interim assistant vice provost. "We just give them the means and the context."

The eight service projects will be held over weekends beginning in the fall, most likely in November, Millard said. MU Extension and the MU Center for Leadership and Service plan to do eight additional projects in the spring and continue the program to complete at least one service project in all 114 Missouri counties.

The service learning program is derived from the Mizzou Alternative Breaks program, said Bryan Goers, Center for Leadership and Service coordinator and Mizzou Alternative Breaks adviser. The alternative breaks program typically sends MU students on service trips across the country and to foreign countries, yet only two trips have been in held in Missouri so far.

The idea for the new service learning project came from a brainstorming session with extension staff and faculty, Center for Leadership and Service staff, and MU students, Millard said. Jim Spain, the MU vice provost for undergraduate studies, had initially suggested that the two organizations meet to discuss ideas for student involvement throughout Missouri.

The program was announced at a celebration Thursday for MU Extension's 100-year anniversary, which is May 8. Extension staff and faculty from across the state gathered on Carnahan Quadrangle, and representatives from each region set up booths displaying different projects their regions were working on.

Goers said at the celebration that the new program reflects one of the six principles of Mizzou Alternative Breaks — serve, don't help. The service trips focus on serving others, not helping others, Goers said.

One idea that had been proposed, he said, was sending students from MU's College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources on an agriculture-based trip to Buchanan County.

"I truly believe this is the beginning of a long-lasting partnership that will change the lives of Missouri students and residents," Goers said.

Supervising editor is Allie Hinga.

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