Nov 21st, 2013 @ 9:44 am | Author: Greg Vanney
The service-learning projects of the 14 groups of Valley City State University freshmen in the Learning to Live, Living to Learn (L2L) course were featured in a symposium Thursday, Nov. 21, in Graichen Gym. Each group had its own exhibition space, and the various projects were presented in a variety of ways, including posters, photos and multimedia.

This year’s project topics included VCSU athletics website analysis, President’s House Guest Inn maintenance, a bake sale and cookbook creation, free public computer lessons, formation of a campus table tennis club, a Girl Scout activity night, Medicine Wheel Park experience and maintenance, campus sharing of personal cultural diversity, drum-circle presentations for elementary school students, raising recycling awareness, introducing the public library to young readers, creation of self-motivational videos for college success, and a bullying prevention workshop and hand-washing clinic for elementary school students.

Following are descriptions of the various L2L groups’ service learning projects.

L2L Group 1 students analyzed the current VCSU athletics website, identifying areas in which the site meets the needs of its audience and those areas that could be improved on. The group interviewed VCSU coaches, athletes and students, asking what they liked about the current website, what they would like to see improved and what additions they would like to see happen. The group’s advisor was Jamie Paurus, instructor in the VCSU computer systems and software engineering department and Viking head golf coach.

The President’s House Guest Inn on the VCSU campus served as the centerpiece for L2L Group 2’s efforts. Under the direction of advisor Jan Drake, VCSU director of student academic services, the group toured the home—formerly the official residence of Valley City State presidents—and learned its history. The group helped the President’s House Preservation Society do maintenance on the home, including cleaning the attic, raking leaves in the yard and helping install decorations for the holidays. The group also created a video tour of the house.

The topic of food in the greater Valley City community and the VCSU student community was the focus of efforts by L2L Group 3, led by advisor Vitaliano Figueroa, VCSU vice president of student affairs. The group addressed the topic in two ways: by holding a bake sale (and baking the goods sold there) in the VCSU Student Center to benefit the Barnes County Food Pantry, and by gathering recipes and creating an “easy cooking for college students” cookbook, available to students to download free of charge on the VCSU website.

The members of L2L Group 4 collaborated with South Central Adult Services in Valley City to offer free computer lessons to the general public. Students devised their own curriculum and delivered original presentations for the event. Lesson topics included computer basics, web-browsing, email and social media. Sam Stover, VCSU patron services librarian, served as advisor to the group.

Under the direction of advisor Preston Bush, associate professor of mathematics at VCSU, L2L Group 5 organized a table tennis club on campus, going through the process to achieve official VCSU student organization status. Group members have also advertised the new club on campus.

L2L Group 6—led by advisor Jackie Owen, instructor in VCSU’s School of Education and Graduate Studies—was given the question “What role might VCSU students have in maintaining and increasing membership in the Valley City Girl Scout organization?” The group’s solution was to hold a Girl Scout Activity Night for older scouts. Students designed and taught activities at different stations, including car care, baking, games, public speaking and first aid.

Medicine Wheel Park in Valley City was the focus of L2L Group 7’s project. The group worked in the gardens and helped prepare the park for winter. Under the leadership of advisor Teather Sundstrom, VCSU assistant professor of science, the group also learned about the astronomical calendars in the park.

Campus cultural diversity was the focus of L2L Group 8’s project this fall under advisor Jody Shorma, VCSU instructor and director of the learning center. Throughout the semester, culturally diverse students and employees of VCSU shared their “home” culture’s history, traditions and beliefs with the students in Group 8, giving the students an opportunity to develop an understanding of and an appreciation for cultural diversity at VCSU. The students created a four-minute video to capture their cultural diversity learning experience.

Members of L2L Group 9 studied drum-circle facilitation, and for their service-learning project, they gave drum-circle performances at both Jefferson and Washington elementary schools in Valley City. The performances included various styles of community drumming, such as in-the-moment drumming, drum call, call and response, showcasing and found-sound drumming. Each of the students composed their own piece, and three of those were selected for the school performances. Performance discussions emphasized the benefits of drum circles, the importance of rhythm as a vital component of life and the ability of all humans to participate in the experience. Each show ended with a few of the elementary students receiving lessons in hand-drum technique prior to participating in the last piece of the performance. James Adams, assistant professor of music, was Group 9’s advisor.

L2L Group 10’s project was to create recycling awareness with activities leading up to America Recycles Day on Nov. 15. Activities included a “guess the number of bottles and cans” contest at a VCSU football game where people could pledge to recycle, volunteer work at Valley Recycling Center, a recycling contest among the various VCSU dormitories and an American Recycles Day informational table in the VCSU Student Center. Rhonda Fairfield, executive assistant in the VCSU President’s Office, served as advisor to Group 10.

The service-learning project of L2L Group 11 focused on young readers and libraries. The group created a pamphlet to document the importance of public libraries in the lives of young readers, designed a kid-friendly reading room in the Valley City Barnes County Public Library (VBCPL) and held a kick-off event for young readers to celebrate both the pamphlet and the reading room. Working closely with the VCBCPL, the kick-off event included a scavenger hunt designed to familiarize 3rd to 6th graders with library resources in a fun way. The event also featured a collaborative “research pal” activity pairing group members with elementary students to find the best books the library didn’t have, on a nonfiction topic of the students’ choice, so that the library could then purchase the books the young students wanted to read. Group 11 was led by advisor Lee Kruger, VCSU assistant professor in the communications arts department.

The students of Group 12—led by advisor Shou-Ching Chao, VCSU assistant professor in the communications arts department—each produced a three-minute video on the topic “My Future, My Inspiration, and My Plan.” The objective of the project was to motivate students to succeed in college. For “My Future,” students thought about their future orientation, including their majors at VCSU, and strengths that will help them realize their college goals and weaknesses they need to overcome. For “My Inspiration,” students did research on VCSU historical figures to find a role model as their inspiration. For “My Plan,” students defined achievable short-term and long-term goals for their four years of study at VCSU.

Topics related to bullying were presented by L2L Group 13 to the sixth grade classrooms at Washington Elementary School in Valley City. Group members discussed the negative effects of bullying on children, talked about ways to prevent bullying and made posters and a “Sorry” box to increase awareness of bullying prevention in the school. Advisor for Group 13 was Stephanie Roelfsema, VCSU director of housing.

The project of L2L Group 14 also involved traveling to a Valley City school, in this case Jefferson Elementary. The project emphasis was on teaching kindergarten students the importance of washing one’s hands to help stop the spread of germs and prevent disease transmission; this was demonstrated through a hand-washing activity with the kindergartners. Alyssa Sorensen, assistant athletic trainer at VCSU, was Group 14’s advisor.

All of the Learning to Live, Living to Learn groups—nearly 200 VCSU freshmen and their advisors—participated in a service project Sept. 26, harvesting 47,000 pounds of squash at a local farm. The Great Plains Food Bank distributed the squash to 270 shelters, soup kitchens and pantries operating in almost 100 North Dakota communities.