Community Service at The Ohio State University: Honor Roll 2006
This page recognizes outstanding service-learning and community service by Ohio State students, faculty, and staff. The following stories were gathered as part of Ohio State’s application for the 2006 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Engineers for Community Service
Engineers for Community Service (ECOS), a student organization in the College of Engineering, conducted a service-learning project during Spring break 2005 at Montana de Luz, a home for children with HIV/AIDS in rural Honduras. Approximately 21 children are served by the home. The initial group of 11 engineering students and 4 faculty and staff installed a computer lab and administrative computers, taught the children about computers, established a library, fixed electrical problems, assessed communication technology options, assessed water quality, and did some manual labor projects. The Montana de Luz Service-Learning Project is ongoing: members of ECOS returned to Honduras during spring break 2006 and before fall quarter 2006 to continue with projects such as installing solar power to compensate for intermittent power failure, continuing water testing, and using satellite for telephone and Internet service. In 2006, the engineering students also collaborated with students and faculty in the College of Human Ecology, who worked on developmental issues with the children (e.g., technology education, careers, living with HIV/AIDS). Donations from OSU units and existing initiatives such as the Honda-OSU Partnership helped fund the trips. ECOS also leveraged funds available to OSU student organizations, Pizza Hut allowed ECOS members to work one Saturday to earn additional money, and Girl Scouts in a local elementary school raised more funds through their own service projects. In return, ECOS members presented a program at the school on women in engineering. Other effective practices included loading the computers with Spanish software developed by college students and available for free download and using satellite connections available through the OSU Office of Information Technology. The project enabled OSU students to use their engineering skills as well as to better understand the consequences of implementing projects for a community in need. More
Johnson Park Middle School
In the 2005-06 school year, Ohio State embarked on a university-wide partnership with Johnson Park Middle School (JPMS) in the Columbus Public Schools. Activities and projects were designed to increase JPMS student and parent awareness of opportunities for college attendance and to develop students’ academic skills, building on the Columbus Public School College Prep 101 program and the Ohio Department of Education State Standards for sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. The P-12 Project coordinated the efforts of 24 Ohio State colleges and departments, involving 113 faculty, staff, and students. Programs were delivered to 190 students, 12 teachers and staff members, and 21 parents. Activities included the following: (1) a classroom-to-classroom cooperative for the writing and publication of an online magazine, in which students in the Department of English’s first-year writing classes worked as editors for a group of JPMS students who wrote and published a magazine for and about middle schools; (2) a campus visit by JPMS students in October 2005 highlighting writing and writing technologies and the fields of engineering and architecture in activities with OSU students; (3) a campus visit in May 2006 in which JPMS students explored Allied Health careers with OSU students; (4) evening programs for parents on financing college; and (5) OSU student volunteers working with the JPMS Chess Club. JPMS and Ohio State staff have also conducted research, evaluation, and grant-writing activities to build a foundation for future partnership activities as well as develop a model for partnership efforts with other urban middle schools. More
Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing Outreach Programs
Ohio State’s Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing (CSTW) has several literacy partnerships with Columbus Public Schools (CPS) locations in disadvantaged areas. During the academic year, OSU graduate and undergraduate students provide individualized instruction and assistance to third, fourth, and fifth grade students at the Columbus Africentric School. Tutors usually work with no more than two tutees, and the sessions run for an hour and a half on Wednesday afternoons. At the end of the year, a bound book of the elementary students’ works is presented to them at a “public reading” pizza party. Students also receive writers’ kits and OSU book bags. The 2005-2006 school year marks the sixth year of CSTW’s partnership with Columbus Africentric School, and the writing scores on the fourth grade proficiency test have consistently improved since the establishment of the partnership, resulting in two awards from CPS for excellence. The OSU Department of English Writing Workshop is one of several donors and partners that support the project, including Ashland Chemical, The Columbus Foundation, and Dollar General Corporation. In the 2005-2006 school year, CSTW’s outreach team and the Writing Workshop partnered with English teachers at Linden McKinley High School to foster greater student fluency and skill with the writing process. CSTW staff and student volunteers engaged 11th- and 12th-grade students in the writing process by conducting small peer response work groups. In addition to the group sessions, students were also introduced to electronic portfolio technology and provided space on a network to both store and interact with their writing. Students were partnered with eReader volunteers from OSU who responded to work stored in the students’ e-portfolios. More
Pulling Our Own Strings: Puppets, Diversity, and Service-Learning in Partnership
Marion, Ohio, like many communities, is becoming more diverse. In addition, three middle schools were being merged, resulting in pressures that exacerbate conflicts over “difference.” Deepening the work of an earlier service project in Marion public schools, 3 faculty, 19 students, and 1 staff member in psychology, theater, and English from OSU’s Marion campus used the Service-Learning grant (made possible by funding from Learn and Serve America) to continue promoting understanding of differences among Marion city school students while engaging OSU-M students in service-learning. The medium of puppetry was chosen because it enables the youth audience to distance themselves from the topics of difference and conflict, providing a safe place to ask questions they might not put to “real people.” With input from reflective essays written by psychology students, theatre students adapted skits and helped middle schoolers create puppets and mount shows that address diversity and conflict issues for their classmates and students at other schools. More than 200 middle schoolers participated. An independent study student in English interviewed participants to write newspaper articles about the project. As shown by project evaluations and observations, the seeds of understanding have been planted. Middle school students are beginning to dismantle some of their own prejudices and make discoveries about themselves and others. Middle schoolers learned teamwork and commitment through the process of building puppets and stage props, memorizing lines, and learning to manipulate puppets. OSU-M theatre, psychology, and English students gained insights into social structures, relationships between professional work and community, volunteerism, and working across disciplines. This project took place during the 2005-2006 academic year. More
Helping Hands for Healthy Living
Working poor individuals have one or more jobs but are unable to afford health care. OSU second-year physical (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) students engaged in helping this population while learning to work with each other in professional practice. A preservice training class oriented students to the roles of each profession and enabled them to practice in a state-of-the-art training center simulating actual patient care experiences. In fall quarter 2005, 25 PT and 20 OT students participated in an interdisciplinary service learning course consisting of 4-6 hours of classroom instruction and 12 hours of service at the Physicians Free Clinic (PFC). PT and OT student teams under the supervision of two faculty provided direct rehabilitation services and consultation for 22 patients with a variety of musculoskeletal and neurological diagnoses and conducted depression screening examinations for 46 individuals and recommended referral/resources as needed. In a unique aspect of this course, patients were given the opportunity for their own community service: students helped 48 patients complete individual capacities inventories identifying their talents and interests) and connected them with community associations and/or volunteer services at the clinic. The project has had a significant impact on improving the health, wellness, and quality of life for medically underserved individuals in Franklin County. Students reported that the course helped them to apply information that they learned in the classroom to clinical practice; improved their ability to work with people from different racial, ethnic, or cultural groups; enhanced their collaborative skills with other disciplines; and increased their awareness of the health care needs of the community.
Special Focus Area: Hurricane Relief
Rebuilding the Mississippi Gulf Coast
An assistant professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning of Ohio State’s Knowlton School of Architecture and 24 graduate students from planning, architecture, and public policy in a service learning course developed community plans for rebuilding DeLisle and Saucier in Harrison County, Mississippi, and prepared amendments to the Harrison County Zoning Ordinance. During academic year 2005-2006, students used a thorough planning process to develop comprehensive plans for Saucier, population approximately 12,000, and DeLisle, a community of 1,300. The plans suggested improvements to aid citizens in achieving their goals for the future of their community. The process engaged local economic developers, citizens, elected officials, businesses, and the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District. The team prepared monthly newsletters to communicate the progress of the planning process with the citizens of Harrison County and hosted two town hall meetings to share their plans. Residents were able to vote on their preferences for housing styles, setbacks, town centers, and other development options at these meetings and through a toll-free phone number and website. These plans will help guide the long-term investment in new infrastructure, public facilities, and land use. The project was initially supported by a special grant from Ohio State’s Office of University Outreach and Engagement and the Service-Learning Initiative. The Service-Learning grant was made possible by a Higher Education Grant from Learn and Serve America. The School of Architecture received additional funding through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Universities Rebuilding America Partnership initiative to continue OSU’s efforts over the next 2 years. Students on the project team received the 2006 Excellence in Economic Development Planning Award from the Economic Development Division of the American Planning Association. More
Help for Displaced Animals
The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine sent four teams, composed of about 25 veterinary technicians, veterinary students, and a resident DVM, to Louisiana State University to assist with thousands of hurricane-displaced animals. The teams drove truckloads of medicine, food, and other supplies to the Parker Coliseum and the Lamar-Dixon AFB, which served as animal shelters. Each team spent a week in Louisiana. Veterinary students and technicians assisted with the running of a makeshift hospital that included a triage and Intensive Care Unit for those animals with the most severe injuries. A veterinary hospital social worker provided counseling for local residents looking for their lost pets at the shelters as well as students and staff working in distressing surroundings. The college’s involvement continued after teams returned home, as 35 rescued dogs and cats were brought to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital for health care and spaying/neutering. They were placed in foster care until their treatments were finished and permanent homes found for them. The efforts of these teams provided relief to staff of the Louisiana State University College of Veterinary Medicine who were overwhelmed by the numbers of displaced animals needing care, supported volunteers at the shelters and grief-stricken owners who were searching for their pets, and provided comfort and medical care to the rescued animals. This project adapted a model used by American Red Cross rescue teams who help people in crisis situations: the integration of veterinary medicine assistance teams and mental health workers who specialize in veterinary issues, thus providing assistance both to rescue workers coping with traumatic situations and to the people and animals being rescued.
Books for Gulf Coast Children
OSU Kid Corps collected children’s books for hurricane-affected regions. OSU Kid Corps is a project of Ohio State’s College of Human Ecology that is funded by AmeriCorps. The students work throughout the year with local, at-risk preschoolers to help them gain critical school readiness skills. The 70 students initiated and completely managed the book drive, sorted the collected books by age group, and packed them for shipping. The students obtained books and support from a wide range of donors, including Barnes and Noble, which gave books and money and conducted a voucher weekend; a publishing company; a child care center; Phi Upsilon Omicron, the Human Ecology Honors Society at Ohio State; a local high school; and many Ohio State campus departments and residence halls. Nearly 5,000 books were collected and sent out, having the potential to benefit thousands of children and encourage literacy in classrooms and early childhood centers for years to come. The project was conducted from November 2005 through May 2006, during Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters.
New Homes for Slidell
In November 2005, 10 Ohio State faculty/staff, 85 students, 1 professional staff chef, and 1 student chef from campus dining services took an “Alternative Fall Break” trip to Slidell, Louisiana, to clean up properties and help build homes for Hurricane Katrina victims with Habitat for Humanity. Their activities included removing debris, tearing out flood-damaged walls and floors to prepare sites for new construction, and sorting through retrieved belongings. The Office of Community Service/Ohio Union was able to organize this initiative quickly because of previous work that the office and Habitat had done in Slidell. Effective program practices included (1) advanced training before departure; (2) assignment of each student to a “family” coordinated by a faculty or staff member, which promoted bonding within each volunteer group; and (3) providing motivation by sharing the stories of the families whose houses students were cleaning up or rebuilding. In addition to contributing to the rehousing of Slidell residents, the project also had an impact on the student volunteers, who began to think about the issues of race, education, housing, and transportation disparity in hurricane-affected areas as well as the crucial need to consider the educational system, housing opportunities, and health care as part of the rebuilding process. Additional trips were made in March, May, and June 2006 by a total of 57 students and 5 staff members (in March accompanied by the first ladies of Ohio and Arkansas) to continue Habitat work in Slidell and New Orleans.
Supplying a Communications Lifeline
Robert S. Dixon and Alan Escovitz, Office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) provided training and support of the Transportable Satellite Internet System (TSIS) used for Hurricane Katrina relief in Mississippi and New Orleans. Developed by OARnet and the Office of the CIO, TSIS can provide 1.5 Mbps downlink and 512 Kbps uplink and 24 ports of 10/100 Ethernet to connect to any nearby computers or LANs. The TSIS is also equipped with wireless capabilities that can penetrate walls and provide 802.11b connectivity inside buildings. The Ohio State staff members trained staff of the Indiana Higher Education Telecommunication System (IHETS), which transported a TSIS to the Gulf Coast, restoring campus telecommunication networks and providing Internet access for Alcorn State University and Southern University. The TSIS system had previously served southwest Florida in 2004, when Hurricane Charley knocked out all means of communication in southwest Florida except for TSIS, which served as a communications lifeline for the insurance industry during recovery effort. The American Distance Education Consortium awarded the Bill Murphy “Barrier Buster” Award to Dixon, Escovitz, and IHETS. The award recognizes an individual, team or institution for reducing or eliminating barriers to distance education at an institutional, state, or multistate level.
Getting Farmers Back on Their Feet
A group of 30 Ohio State University students arrived in Louisiana in December 2005 to clean up parts of south Louisiana ravaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Organized by the Collegiate Young Farmers, the Buckeye volunteers worked in Washington, St. Tammany, and Plaquemines parishes, as well as the city of New Orleans. Focused on helping agriculture-based families and businesses, their work included helping farmers rebuild fences and harvest fruit and assisting nurseries, a city park, and botanical gardens in throwing out dead plants, planting new ones, and cleaning debris. At one nursery, students cleaned and stacked over 28,000 pots in one day. The project took place during Christmas break. Beyond the outcomes of their physical labor, the impact of these volunteers was to help restore hope and help them see a path to recovery.