Lyvier Conss, Executive Director for the National Center for Community Engagement discusses service learning projects at KPC with Krista Timlin.
At the Community College level across the nation a trend in service education has been emerging over the last 15 years thanks to the Community College National Center for Community Engagement. Several years ago Kenai Peninsula College received a grant to implement a community service learning program that today is providing new opportunities for local students. Lyvier Conss, the executive director for the National Center headquartered in Mesa, Arizona, recently made a site visit to KPC to see how the local projects were progressing. Conss was able to do some training during her visit as well as meet with community partners that have implemented the service learning projects. “We have seen that by having students involved with community service as a component of their course work it brings a different dimension to their academic studies as well as a better understanding of where they live and how they are a bigger part of society,” said Conss during an interview at KPC.
Conss says that students generally may be reluctant to participate in the service learning programs because they have busy lives, “But because the projects are very creative and innovative faculty are very receptive allowing students to bring in creative dimensions to the course work and become involved and excited about what they are doing and have the satisfaction of seeing that what they are doing is making a difference in their community,” said Conss.
The 2006 Arctic Winter Games became an ideal partner and with the help of KPC Director Gary Turner, Assistant Professor of Language Arts Janice High, and Krista Timlin, KPC service learning director, the University of Alaska Anchorage will be offering a one credit hour for advance journalism students to compose the daily news paper of the Games known as the ULU News. Conss, who travels throughout the United States visiting college campuses says each community’s service learning projects are unique to their area, but feels that the Kenai Peninsula has captured the passion for the program, “My hope is that the passion that has developed here for community service learning will be replicated within the UAA system and throughout Alaska and that examples of some of these fabulous programs you have created here may be exported to community colleges in places such as Guam, Arizona, Wyoming and wherever there are institutions of learning.”
Conss hopes that funding for the three year programs will continue in the future but that is dependent upon the funding levels of the Community College National Center for Community Engagement.
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