Service learning has become huge over the past decade in Minnesota. Many high schools and colleges are making ‘service learning’ a requirement for a student’s educational experience. Many students are looking for shorter term projects that create impact for your organization. Not only do they want to complete the requirement, but they want to make a difference in their community. If your organization is ready for them to serve, you will help to great a stream of invaluable resources.
Some steps that your organization can do so that service learning can become second nature includes: creating a list of opportunities that students can participate and complete in short time; being flexible with the days & hours that they can serve since many students are only available in the later afternoon, early evenings, or weekend time slots; and, able to get the student(s) through the application & orientation processes quickly so they can begin their experience.
Organizations can also build relationships with some of the junior high schools, senior high schools, and colleges that are close in proximity to them. Connect with the service-learning staff so that they are aware of the needs within your organization and can keep students informed on what’s available.
Once the service-learning requirement has been completed, make sure to complete the necessary evaluation forms for the students and thank them for the work they provided. An exit interview geared towards service-learning students is a great tool so you can ask what went well and what needs improvement so the organization can improve the experience for future service-learning students.
Quotes from service-learning students:
“I was able to experience people with disabilities on a weekly basis. I brought the guys [I volunteered with] to restaurants, Timberwolves games, Vikings games, and shopping. It was a great experience and recommends it to anyone”.
-Simon Gondeck, student from Benilde St-Margaret
I had so much fun volunteering at Hammer! At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but through this experience I learned a lot and became really close to the girls that I worked with. On our visits, we would go to movies, go shopping, do make overs, play the Wii, or do other activities that that I would never expect to do while volunteering. I had a great time! And I would definitely recommend to anyone looking [for a service learning experience] to volunteer here!
Lizzy Geiwitz, student from Benilde St-Margaret
Director of Volunteer Resources