Posted on October 30, 2009 by Tia Lalani

Augustana has a strong tradition of being involved with the Camrose community, and this involvement has recently expanded.

By Kara Blizzard

Last semester, Augustana students helped out with "Cooking Up a Story."

Augustana has a strong tradition of being involved with the Camrose community, and this involvement has recently expanded. Many Augustana courses now offer a Community Service Learning (CSL) component, which allows students to volunteer in and around Camrose as part of their coursework. This semester alone there are 178 students in CSL placements with 35 different organizations, including the City of Camrose, the Open Door Association, and community schools. Over ten percent of Augustana’s population is currently involved with CSL.

Danielle Hachey is a Learning and Beyond (LaB) Coordinator at Augustana, and she and her colleagues work with organizations to find placements for students. A CSL course typically involves twenty hours of community service per semester. Danielle said, “Students learn all these theories in the classroom about everything from psychology to environmental studies and English, and when they go out into the community they get hands-on experience dealing with real-life issues.” Community members get to “share the learning process with students. They get someone to volunteer and help them out, but they also get an outside perspective of how their organization is running.”

One student involved in CSL is Ellis Agbenyega, a third year student with a major in Global and Development Studies (GDS). This semester, he is taking two courses that have CSL components.

For an Environmental Studies course called Human Activities and the Natural Environment, Ellis surveyed community members

Augustana student, Devin Keay, helped deliver Meals on Wheels as part of his CSL.

about environmental sustainability. He went door to door asking participants about issues like water use, recycling, and food. Ellis said the experience was positive, because he was able to “engage more with the community. I got to know people in Camrose. It also gave me an awareness of sustainability: water use, recycling—basic stuff that we just take for granted.” The CSL project taught Ellis about environmental issues, and it also affected the people he surveyed: “It was engaging not only for me, but for the participants too.” The survey required citizens to think about issues like the amount of water they use and where they buy their food.

Another CSL project that Ellis is working on is for a GDS Capstone course. The course is two semesters long, and students are working with the City of Camrose on a Municipality Sustainability Plan. The plan is divided into sixteen areas of research, and Ellis has taken on the issue of personal safety and security. So far, he has interviewed community representatives including the Police Chief and city council members. He has also interviewed Camrose citizens about personal safety and security for a podcast. Ellis wants to engage the community and spread awareness about ways to keep safe. Plans for the rest of his project include organizing focus groups and doing more research about safety issues in Camrose.

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