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Service-learning gives back to students and the community

Photo Coutesy Dr. Michal Temkin Martinez

Boise State partners with roughly 150 local nonprofit and government agencies to provide students with real work experience through the service-learning program.

But not every class is a service-learning class, not every major requires service-learning and not every nonprofit and government agency is a part of Boise State service- learning.

There are processes in which these come about and committees who are involved in making the decisions.

Service-learning is a program Boise State offers for classes to work on real world experiences and still gain knowledge and learn course material.

Faith Beyer Hansen, assistant director for faculty and community engagement for the service-learning program, is behind  setting up partnerships with Boise State and local agencies.

Hansen goes out into the community and works with faculty to decide what is best for the community and Boise State as a whole.

There are two parts to becoming a service-learning class. First the faculty or department makes a decision to incorporate service-learning.

Once the decision is made, they must answer a series of questions, like what the class needs and the desire of the faculty is and how to work the service learning aspect into their curriculum. Once completed, the faculty goes to the service-learning review board. Upon approval, the faculty go out in the community to find a partnership.

“It’s more of a shifting of thinking about a class for the faculty,” Hansen said.

Boise State service-learning works with nonprofit organizations and government agencies and occasionally partner with for-profit companies, which include healthcare agencies like nursing homes.

There are four areas of focus for Boise State service-learning: 1) Environment, 2) Community health, 3) Integrations of people into the community, 4) Access to higher education, like Head Start and k-12 initiatives.

In addition, the institution must  maintain liability insurance and want to help teach the students or mentor the students.

As for hours and project requirements, this is up to the faculty member. Faculty members get to pick partners based on what their class needs are and what they are hoping to have their students learn. Hours depend on what the class needs are and what projects are offered. Base is 10 hours with a 15-20 being average.

“Our faculty is out in the community all the time meeting partners,” Hansen said.

Chris Hawk, social work major, has been doing service learning for the last two terms.

“I enjoy service-learning, and feel it is worth it,” Hawk said.

Luana Leonard, also a social work major, has been doing service-learning for the past two terms and has had some great experiences, especially working with refugees.

“I really like it and it fits in with my class,” Leonard said.

She completed service-learning for both social work 101 and 201.

The goal of service-learning is to give Boise State students real world experience and give back to the community, while maintaining a positive learning experience for the students.

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I am currently a Junior at BSU. I am majoring in Mass Comm/Journalism and an emphasis in PR. I am also a member of PRSSA. Along with school I am active in raising my kids and also being apart of my brothers sports.