VERMILLION, S.D. -- Eleven incoming freshmen attended the University of South Dakota’s annual Serve & Learn retreat last week sponsored by the AWOL (Alternative Week of Off-campus Learning) student organization and the Center for Academic and Global Engagement. The students engaged in nearly a dozen service-learning projects throughout the week to benefit Vermillion and Yankton. Additionally, the students were able to move into the residence halls early, learn about community programs around the region, and get acquainted with campus staff and resources.
Like other AWOL events, Serve & Learn is entirely student-led, and 12 experienced AWOL students volunteered their time as site leaders throughout the week, leading the freshmen in service-related programming daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Students participating were Jessalyn Bannister of Lime Springs, Iowa; Regan Enos of Rapid City, S.D.; Justine Fischer of Hartington, Neb.; Morgan Hartenstein of Belleville, Ill.; Katlyn Holtrop of Sheldon, Iowa; Hailey Jenner of Tea, S.D.; Marissa O’Donnell of Hampton, Iowa; Elizabeth Reed of Spearfish, S.D.; Marissa Reis of Hartley, Iowa; Rachel Tverberg of Sioux Falls, S.D.; and, Joshua Wiley of Storm Lake, Iowa.
The service learning projects were completed in partnership with Vermillion Areas Arts Council, Head Start, Vermillion Care Center, Center for Children and Families, Boys and Girls Club of Yankton, Heartland Humane Society, Avera Yankton Care Center, and the Backpack Program Project. In all, USD students dedicated more than 150 volunteer hours to community organizations while learning firsthand about the social issues that affect the community and region.
“Every single student was fully engaged in the car washing projects – heard lots of laughter, saw smiles,” said Carmen Stewart, the director of Head Start And. “And, as a side note, I don’t think our cars have been this clean since we got them brand new.” Members of the Vermillion Area Arts Council appreciated the service as well, sharing on their social media page, “Fantastic program, lovely kids, and stupendous work!”