Several Black Hills State University faculty and staff members gathered recently to learn about service-learning and how to implement it in the BHSU academic community. As a part of the learning experience, conference attendees also completed a service project at a local women’s shelter.

Classroom sessions, conducted by Dr. Gary Heusel, the director of the Midwest Consortium for Service-Learning in Higher Education, covered topics ranging from explanations of what service learning is as well as how to incorporate reflection into the classroom experience. Much of the discussion was focused on how to make community service projects interesting and relevant to students.

Attendees also participated in a service project repainting rooms at a local women’s shelter. By the end of the conference service sessions, six rooms at the shelter had been completely repainted.

BHSU is making a concerted effort to provide additional service learning opportunities for students. Students registered in the first-year experience courses this fall will take part in service learning opportunities. Other classes also incorporate service learning options. This training session for faculty and staff and the subsequent service project provided a learning experience that faculty and staff will pass along to their students. 

“Through a lot of hard work, the faculty and staff who participated in the painting hoped to make a difference in the lives of the women and children who live there,” said Joe Valades, one of the attendees and the retention director in the Center for Academic Success at BHSU. “Attending the sessions, taking part in the service learning project, and then reflecting on that experience was a meaningful learning practice. Hopefully students will get involved and then return to the classroom and tell others about their experiences.”

For more information about service-learning, service ideas or upcoming events, contact Sarah Hanify, the community service coordinator for BHSU, at 642-6471 or SarahHanify@bhsu.edu.