• Innovation Continuing this fall, students in academic disciplines like Human Sciences and Agriculture and Biological Engineering will take part in service-learning classes partnered with Mississippi State's Sweet Potato Innovation Challenge. The Challenge engages students in finding uses for cull sweet potatoes, or visually imperfect potatoes deemed to not meet consumer standards, including ones that are too small, have irregular shape, or uneven skin appearance.

  • Community CASLE connects with communities across the state. One of our 2014-2015 Dawn Brancheau Service-Learning Scholars, Travis Crabtree, positively impacted the community with a landscape architecture design project. He noticed that the local public library signage was not very prominent, thus making the building hard to find. Crabtree proposed placing large letters spelling R-E-A-D next to the library building. His project highlights the importance of literacy and became an immediate landmark in downtown Starkville.

  • Engagement Students participate in service-learning courses, and as "service-learners," are offered the unique opportunity to meet course objectives through meaningful community service. Freshmen enrolled in True Maroon classes along with other student, faculty, and staff volunteers packaged meals to be distributed by Stop Hunger Now to those in need in the U.S. and abroad.

  • Partnership MSU service-learners collaborate with community partners from around the state. In Neil Callendar's Art Design ll course, students worked with the Starkville Area Arts Council in helping to develop the Oktibbeha County Barn Quilt Trail by painting 4' by 4' barn quilt squares. These squares were permanently placed in the Oktibbeha County community and have helped increase Mississippi's agritourism.

  • Learning CASLE aims to provide students with learning opportunities both in and out of the classroom. For Ms. Jessica Graves and Dr. Brandi Karisch's Animal and Dairy Science students, service-learning meant gaining a better understanding of their own coursework as well as creating a "day at the farm" experience for 4-H youth from Clay, Lowndes, and Oktibbeha counties.

  • Economic Development When small businesses and local farms thrive, entire communities win. CASLE connects growers and entrepreneurs with MSU faculty who, working with their students, complete service-learning projects that can change communities. For example, Dr. Nicole Ponder's Consumer Behavior class partnered with the Neshoba County Extension office. Students proposed changes and enhancements to increase the popularity of the Neshoba County Farmers' market.

Spotlight

Dr. Marty Brunson - Community Partner

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Service-Learning Class: AIS 3813 - Team Leadership in Agriculture and Life Sciences

Semester: Spring 2016

Course Description: This course connected students in Dr. Laura Lemons' AIS 3813 class with Catch-A-Dream Foundation's CEO Dr. Marty Brunson. The students were tasked with creating a fundraising event that brought awareness to the organization.

Comments from Dr. Brunson:

1. What was the impact of service-learning on your agency?

As a charitable non-profit, we always benefit by involvement of community members. But when that involves students in a combination of both learning and service, the resulting synergy results in increased benefit to both the students and our organization. We are not only better positioned to serve our clientele and our core mission, but our "sphere of influence" is conveniently (and at no cost) expanded to include the students and those associated with their efforts, thus allowing us the privilege of added ancillary impact and influence.

2. What advice do you have for other community partners interested in service-learning?

Be willing to invest the time and energy to embrace service learning; this is an equation that will always result in magnified benefits to your organization/business or project. It provides the gratification of knowing that your program has made "a difference" in new ways that otherwise would not have been possible while magnifying your ability to accomplish the organizational mission.

3. What do you believe that the students got out of this experience in working with you?

Students gained a deep appreciation for the realities faced by families with children who face life-threatening conditions. Simultaneously, they quickly learned that serving the needs of those families (or any other targeted program needs) requires not only empathy, but involvement, proactivity and work. As the students progressed through the steps required to formulate, then plan and implement a service project, they gained valuable individual and team skills that will serve them well into their future personal and professional endeavors.

4. Name something important you learned (as a community partner) through you work with CASLE and service-learning.

We gained an even deeper appreciation for not only the value of community-based service activity, but also the critical importance of having the volunteers/community fully understand and embrace our mission and vision. This service-learning experience validated our convictions that empathy and understanding of a mission by volunteers leads to passionate involvement and dedication from those same volunteers.

5. CASLE encourages collaboration and "withness" between the faculty, students, and community partners. How did you see this come to fruition in this project?

We provided opportunity for the students to not only "hear" about our organization, but to visit, to see and to "touch" not only our facility and our staff, but more importantly, to experience our mission and vision. The semester-long project required close communication between the class and our organization, and, hopefully, the students developed a sense of personal and corporate ownership in Catch-A-Dream that will transcend the close of the semester.


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