At the Service Learning Fair on Aug. 31, representatives from nearly 20 nonprofit organizations were hosted in the Yates-Gill College Union – where they attended and offered William Jewell College students a variety of opportunities to serve.
Service learning is unique from generic community service because it enables students to complete work that relates to what they are learning in the classroom. In this manner, both the student and the recipient of the service benefit from the experience.
According to Jewell’s website, encouraging service learning is a priority on campus and an essential aspect of enhancing students’ knowledge, critical thinking and reflection skills.
Since 2004 the biannual fair has been organized by Jeff Buscher, College Chaplain and Service Coordinator, who commented that the event takes months of planning.
“I started planning this mid-summer by inviting all of these nonprofit agencies to come,” Buscher said.
The first Service Learning Fair was hosted at Jewell in the 1980s. Since then it has grown in size, especially after the nonprofit leadership major was added at the College. According to Buscher, Jewell graduates working in the nonprofit sector have established ties between the college and their organizations.
Several classes require the completion of service learning, and the College website cites that 72,000 hours of service were completed by members of the Jewell community throughout the 2017-2018 academic year. With close to 900 students, that averages at nearly 100 hours of service per student during the year.
Historically, service has been a part of William Jewell’s culture – originating from its Baptist affiliation.
“[For me] service is how we live out the Christian expression of our history,” Buscher said. “For some, it’s a Christian expression, but for some, it’s just the right thing to do.”
No official date for the next Service Learning Fair has been set, but one will take place near the start of the spring semester. Those who wish to know more about ways they can serve should contact Buscher by email or in person.
Photos by Sofia Arthurs-Schoppe.