Posts Tagged 'Student Leadership'

Fighting Hunger at Fort Hays State University

By Kelly Nuckolls, FHSU American Democracy Project Student Coordinator

8th Annual Universities Fighting World Hunger Food Summit PhotoFort Hays State University (FHSU) students and faculty recently attended the 8th Annual Universities Fighting World Hunger Food Summit in Overland Park, Kansas.

Held March 2 – 4, 2013, this was the first time the event was hosted by a coalition of institutions. FHSU Provost Larry Gould and Director of the Center for Civic Leadership Curt Brungardt decided early on that the university would support this unique learning and engagement opportunity.

Universities Fighting World Hunger (UFWH) is the catalyst for over 300 chapter colleges and universities who engage in international programming across the globe to make fighting hunger a core value of higher education institutions worldwide. Students, faculty, administrators, political officials, and hunger relief organizations from all over the world came together at the Food Summit to share best practice models; listen to keynote addresses from Ritu Sharma of Women Thrive, Dr. Alastair Summerlee of the University of Guelph, and Max Finberg of the U. S. Department of Agriculture; all with the goal of ending hunger by empowering the younger generation.

FHSU’s American Democracy Project Student Co-Coordinator Kelly Nuckolls had the opportunity to be on the steering committee for this conference. Ten students from FHSU also joined the Food Summit volunteer team with students from Ottawa University and Kansas State University. Three FHSU faculty and 16 students attended the conference, including three graduate students from China. The Chinese students were active and vocal participants and hope to bring hunger awareness speakers to their campuses in China.

Curt Brungardt; faculty member Shala Mills; Anne Drees, also a student co-coordinator of the American Democracy Project; and Nuckolls presented at the summit about this semester’s “From Harvest to the Hungry: Kansans Addressing Hunger.” This program is a three-week series that includes presentations, service events, film screenings, and public forums to engage the public around the issue of local, national, and global hunger. FHSU partnered with the Kansas Humanities Council and the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum to make these possible. Following the formal presentation, conference participants were given the opportunity to participate in a forum inspired by the National Issues Forum’s publication—The Rising Cost of Food. The town hall was moderated by four FHSU students.

The fact that food insecurity exists right here in America—the wealthiest country on the planet—was a central theme at this conference, and as the three-day event came to an end, attendees were called to action. Students were reminded of the importance of everyday acts of citizenship that can make an impact in the world, and Nuckolls demonstrated to the conference how simple political action can be, even for a student, by making a call over speaker phone to her Representative, Congressman Kevin Yoder {R-KS} (watch it now by clicking here). She wanted her fellow conference attendees to witness how simple it is to engage in efforts that will put an end to starvation and hunger across the globe.

If you are curious about this unique learning experience and the opportunity to become a global leader in the fight against hunger, as well as the efforts made toward that end at the 2013 UWFH Food Summit, check out the re-cap video made by FHSU student Becca Kohl by clicking here.

For more information on Universities Fighting World Hunger visit: www.universitiesfightingworlhunger.org.

Kelly is a Student Coordinator for both the American Democracy Project and the Global Leadership Project. She works with organizing and developing curricular and co-curricular programming to engage the FHSU community in projects and activities that educate about and cause a direct impact on local, national, and global issues. Kelly is a senior majoring in Political Science, with a minor in Spanish, and a certificate in Global Leadership.

Student Spotlight: UW-La Crosse’s Katie Svitavsky, City Council Member

By Katherine Kvitavsky, student, UW-La Crosse

Katherine Svitavsky

Where I go to school, everyone is involved in something. From intramural sports to marching band to diversity organizations, students in La Crosse are known for being active and engaged. It is, in part, because of this culture of service that I chose to be involved in our city government, representing a mostly-student district on the City of La Crosse Common Council. A year ago, I had just begun my first semester at UW-L. A year ago, if someone told me that I soon would be an elected official, I wouldn’t have believed them. But here I am, now entering my second year as a student, my first year as a resident assistant, and serving as a city council member.

I first chose to get involved on campus by representing students who lived in my residence hall in our campus Residence Hall Association (RHA). My job, along with my co-representative, was to be a voice for the 400 students living in my building. This experience was unique because it challenged me to think about policy and how it affected not only students living in my building but also all students on campus. Additionally, representing students in this capacity gave me valuable leadership skills, knowledge, and experience to represent them in our City Council, and I can’t give my time working with RHA enough credit for the impact it had on me.

As I meet and work with more people, I constantly am amazed at how driven they are and the  awesome, inspirational things of which they have been a part.  One of the many people I have had the privilege of meeting and working with is Karin Johnson, who I first met in a public administration class during my first semester at UW-L. Representing the campus area on our county board, I first remember being impressed with Karin’s physically being in the position, but as I became more familiar with her, what really struck me was how energetic and passionate she was about local issues.

One day in spring, Karin asked me to take a look at the open City Council position. The person who had the position before me was also a UW-L student who was graduating that year, and had resigned in April, leaving a space in the Council to be filled by appointment to fill out his term ending in April 2013. I was on the fence for a while about whether or not to apply for the position, especially considering the time commitments—trying to balance being a student, resident assistant, and council member is something that is still challenging for me at times. Additionally, I wasn’t sure I could do it. I hadn’t had much experience working with a city outside of the classroom; there was an obvious learning curve associated with the position. After some serious self-evaluation and encouragement from my peers and others, I decided to submit my resume to the Council. I was granted an interview, and then was appointed in May to the position.

As a council member, I attend a lot of meetings. I never understood the concept of “government work being done in committees” until I was assigned to the Finance and Personnel committee, where we work on, examine, and discuss proposed legislation and then bring it to the rest of the council. Additionally, I work with members of the community, non-profit groups, city employees, and other council members to shape policy for the community as well as policy specific to my district. I love the job because I get to see my and others’ efforts come to fruition, and there are tangible results from action the city takes, which is why I am running in April to keep on the council after my appointment officially ends.

When Karin suggested I take a look at the open position, I was skeptical. At first I questioned, “why me?”  when the real question should have been, “why not me?” I think so often young people, especially young women, have difficulty quantifying and articulating their skills—not only to themselves but also to others. Simply put, we don’t give ourselves enough credit for not only what we have done and are doing, but also for what we will be achieving in the future. Even if we don’t have an exact picture of our future, it is important to be energized and confident in what we will achieve.

But with our opportunities and successes comes a great responsibility. Just as I didn’t become involved without the encouragement of others, future leaders also need to have that same support. Just as Karin extended her hand to me, I cannot leave without extending my hands to others.

At times being a council member, in combination with being a student and a resident assistant, is stressful. There are times when I wish I could press “pause” and take the day—or week—off. But the rewards of this job far outweigh the stressful times, and I am constantly energized by the work I am a part of because I truly feel I am making a positive difference in the community. What I learned in this past year, the thing that has been proven to me one hundred times over, the best “tip for success” I can offer, is that there are so many opportunities to be taken advantage of if we can take ownership of the fact that we are worthy of them as well as the challenges they present. It may not always be easy, but it will be worth the effort.


About Katie:

Originally from Neenah, WI, Katherine Svitavsky is a student at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse perusing degrees in Political Science and Public Administration. She currently represents the 5th district of the city of La Crosse on the city’s Common Council, and is also a Resident Assistant on campus. In her spare time, Katherine enjoys kayaking, hiking, reading, and listening to music.

ADP at Fort Hays State University: A Year in Review

By Kelly Nuckolls, Global Leadership Project Student Coordinator, Fort Hays State University
Poster by Matt Niehues, senior graphic design major at FHSU

FHSU ADP_2012 poster

Year-round programs: The following programs occur multiple times throughout our academic school year.

  • Readership: The Readership Program is a sponsorship between the American Democracy Project, the Hays Daily News, and The New York Times. Through this sponsorship, students and faculty were able to receive free copies of these newspapers every business day.
  • Talking Democracy: Hosted by Dr. Chapman Rackaway and Dr. Mark Bannister, this weekly thirty minute Talk Show interviews a member of the community focusing on a current issue in today’s political arena. Co-Sponsored with KFHS.
  • Times Talks: Times Talks are presentations and small group discussions on current national and international issues based on articles from the New York Times.
  • Finding Common Ground: A roundtable discussion where students and faculty can come and discuss a specific current topic in a setting that promotes being open-minded. Some of the roundtables will feature expert panels who will answer questions and give a brief introductory talk on the topic.

eCitizenship

  • Tiger Talk Back:  A different question is posted on a white board on campus and on twitter each week addressing a current global or local issue. Students are able to post their comments to the question on Twitter using the hashtag #tigertalkback.
  • Eye of the Tiger:  A civic journalism site where FHSU students can tell the institution’s day-to-day story in real- time. Eye of the Tiger(http://eyeofthetigerfhsu.wordpress.com) will put a portable video camera into student hands and let them tell the FHSU and Hays story first-hand using Web 2.0 technologies.

Annual Events: The following programs occur each academic school year.

  • Model United Nations:  Students participated in the 52nd Midwest Model United Nations Conference in St. Louis, MO. Students represented delegations from the Russian Federation, Iraq, and Haiti.
  • Public Forums: Open to the public events that feature expertise on a particular topic and then open up to a question & answer session with the featured speaker. Both public forums this year focused on our Student Government Association. The first forum “SGA: What you know ‘bout Fort Hays?,” gave students the opportunity to get to know their student senators, and the second forum was for students to hear the platforms of the two presidential/vice presidential candidates running for the 2012-2013 elections.
  • Poster Competition: Graphic design students created posters displaying their views on current issues and Democracy. The posters were displayed in the Memorial Union and voted on by the student body.
  • Film Screenings:  One screening this year included the documentaryLittle Town of Bethlehem,which is a film created by men of three different faiths that walks the audience through the life of one who has been discriminated against because of cultural difference.
  • Mock Election: FHSU students were able to vote in a mock presidential election. There were able to register to vote and receive educational materials. Students who vote received a free T-shirt. 232 students voted in the Mock Election. President Obama won our Mock Election with 110 votes, or 47 % of the votes. Former Governor Mitt Romney, the Republican Party candidate, followed with 100 votes, 43% of the total. Students had the option to write in a candidate and 14 students, 6% of the total, voted for Ron Paul. The other 8 write-in votes, 4% of the total, were for various candidates.
  • Letter Writing campaigns:  Red Hand Day raised awareness on the issue of child soldiers. Students were able to dip their hands in red paint and stamp a paper. Everyone was asked to sign a petition or write a letter to a senator, representative, president, or UN representatives.
  • Ben Franklin Papers  Using educational activities, put together by a Social Studies Methods class, students were able to learn about Ben Franklin, his inventions, and his contributions to our nation. The event featured a presentation and conversation with Ben Franklin impersonator, Fred Krebs as well as a Boston Tea Party with the Daughters of the American Revolution. This event was held in Forsyth library and the front room of McMindes Hall.
  • Speakers: One of the speakers we brought to our campus this year included  General Vic Braden, who gave the presentation “ An Age of Trial”, giving insight into the military’s role in a chaotic environment in which economic, cultural, political, religious, and social issues are entwined.

For more information on ADP at FHSU, go here.

Vote for St. Cloud State (Minn.) Student in White House Contest

St. Cloud State University student Kurtis Neu needs your vote to make it to the White House.

Kurt Neu, a senior anthropology major, is one of 15 finalists chosen in the 2011 White House Campus “Champions of Change” Challenge, which invited college and university students from across the country to demonstrate how their student-led project is improving their campus community and helping America win the future.

After reviewing a record number of entries, 15 finalists were named, including Neu’s which is titled “Our Promise: Building a Better Community Together.”

Neu’s project was put into action last summer providing bagged lunches for children in a multi-ethnic, low-income neighborhood who would normally qualify for lunch assistance during the academic year at a local elementary school. After receiving a grant from the campus food supplier, Neu and his team began making bagged lunches in the campus cafeteria every morning Monday through Friday. College students and volunteers from the community worked together to prepare meals which students then distributed to children in the neighborhood. What started as only a few hundred meals and a handful of volunteers grew to nearly 1000 meals and dozens of volunteers as awareness of the lunch program spread. Delivering the meals to various locations throughout the neighborhood made it possible for students and residents to meet face-to-face and to have purposeful conversations and to work towards establishing relationships based on trust, compassion and a general concern for the well-being of all community members.

Via email, Kurt indicated that the “Our Promise” project represents the collective efforts of “a fantastic group of individuals who are committed to improving the community.” He views St. Cloud State University as “an exceptional place to earn a degree and to discover how to see the world in a different light” and hopes that his project encourages other students to “make the best of their time in college and truly have a positive impact on campus and in the community.”

Go here to learn more and to vote.

The top five winners will largely be selected based on voting and named Campus Champions of Change and will be invited to a culminating event at the White House. The Challenge winners, in addition to the concluding event, will be highlighted by mtvU and MTV Act and also host an episode of mtvU’s signature program, “The Dean’s List.”

The deadline to cast your vote is Saturday, March 3.

Best of luck to you, Kurt, and to St. Cloud State University!

We the People Interview Series: UMBC’s Catie Collins

By Jen Domagal-Goldman, National Manager, American Democracy Project

As part of the Civic Agency initiative, we are conducting a special “We the People” interview series. In this series, we interview intriguing people with different perspectives on the “We the People” phase of our work in ADP. This is the fifth of many interviews that will be included in this series.

Catie Collins is the President of the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s (UMBC’s) Student Government Association (SGA). In her spare time, she is working to complete her senior year studying Psychology, English Literature, and TED Talks.

American Democracy Project (ADP): How did you get involved in the American Democracy Project?

Catie Collins (CC): I have the incredible luck of being a part of UMBC’s flourishing legacy of civic agency work.  The idea of civic agency is really becoming embedded in both our SGA’s culture, and the culture of UMBC as a whole. Our involvement in the American Democracy Project has really been key in helping to achieve this shift. Attending the American Democracy Project Conference in June 2011 was one of my first acts in office!

ADP: Tell us how you got involved in SGA?

Catie Collins, SGA President at UMBC

CC: In my first year at UMBC, I remember feeling frustrated and powerless. I felt like a cog in the wheels of the university, helpless to change anything, expected to play my role as a student and nothing more. That turned out to be a very large assumption – and a false one – which a friend in SGA soon corrected. They challenged me to step up and create the change I wanted to see myself, rather than waiting for someone to swoop in and save the day. My curiosity was sparked – this was an SGA that didn’t just play politics, it didn’t just play the hero – it worked with students to help them create change and feel true ownership of their campus.  It’s this mission that led me to join SGA, and to eventually run for President.

ADP: What does civic agency and the “We the People” movement mean to you?

CC: Civic agency is such a tricky thing to really define – it’s something often best shared through experience. The definition that really resonates with me is this idea of really breaking down the roles we perceive ourselves to be in – professor, student, administrator – in order to really engage each other authentically. I’ve learned to engage people as partners, to really get to know them as real people, and that has led to far more effective impact than I would have ever expected.

ADP: You’re a student member of the national steering committee of the new American Commonwealth Project – a partnership among higher education institutions and associations, the White House, and federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Education, seeks to further the movement of colleges and universities as agents and architects of democracy – what role do you see yourself playing and what do you hope the project accomplishes?

CC: I’m both excited and humbled to find myself a member of the American Commonwealth Project steering committee. My hopes for both my role and the project are centered on the same goal. I would love to see this project work as a platform for a stronger student presence in the conversations surrounding civic agency. I feel that my contribution to this project will largely be work in facilitating that connection.

ADP: How do you see yourself expressing your civic agency after your graduation in spring 2012?

CC: It’s actually been my very experience with civic agency that has completely shaped my post-graduation path.  My involvement has helped me discover within myself a deep-rooted passion for education. I care so deeply about creating systems of education that promote true engagement, both in terms of the material and in terms of one’s civic engagement. I envision investing my future in exactly this kind of work.

ADP: All our best to you, Catie!

To read more about UMBC’s civic agency work, read this previous blog post, or this one.

What about Students?

By Cecilia M. Orphan, National Manager, American Democracy Project

Yesterday I had a wonderful phone conversation with Martin Carcasson and Jack Becker of Colorado State University. Martin is a Communications Studies professor and Jack is one of his students. Jack is planning a student civics conference in Oxford, Ohio, March 16-19, 2011 (details below), and we spent a lot of time talking about this event. The theme of the conference is “The Citizens’ Toolbox: What’s in Yours?” and it will be a follow up to last year’s “Connect the Dots” student conference. I was inspired to hear Jack talk about his work with planning the conference. It was clear to me that Jack had ample opportunities throughout his undergraduate experience to take leadership roles in civic engagement projects. Because of these experiences, Jack is able to use the skills he’s gained to plan this national student conference on civic engagement. For me, he is a perfect example of what a student can do when they have acquired a robust set of civic and professional skills. And he has these civic skills in his tool box because faculty members like Martin believe in the power and importance of working with students.

I have spent the last four years as ADP Manager pushing for increased student involvement in our programs. It is my belief that without student involvement, we will not be successful. It has to be a top-down, bottom-up movement if it’s going to work. Administrators are very important. They are key to institutionalizing civic engagement programming, they offer strategic vision, and they hold the purse strings. It’s important to get faculty to buy into civic education because they are the ones who are teaching students and, more importantly, are often the sources of inspiration for students. But it’s equally important to get students involved because they have the energy, passion, motivation, and ideas that we need in order to design programs that will appeal to and shape students.

Too often, I attend events in the civic engagement world that are mainly attended by people in senior positions and I always ask myself, “Where are the students?” We all sit around and talk about students in a way that makes them seem theoretical to our work, and yet we don’t engage them. I have become a nuisance at these types of events because I now ask, “Where are the students? You want to do important civic engagement work that will affect students, but you’re not inviting their participation in meetings like this.” If we really want to change higher education, if we really want to design programs that will inspire and engage students, if we really want to do substantive, community-based work that has long-lasting impacts, we must partner with our students in equitable and meaningful ways.

Thankfully, I am not alone in my belief that student leadership and collaboration is central to the success of the American Democracy Project. My shared passion for student involvement has been evidenced by the increasing number of students that are working with faculty members in ADP chapters all over the country. It is also evidenced by the number of students that are attending our various events. Last week, 25 students attended the Civic Agency Institute. At last year’s ADP National Meeting, 75 of our 370 participants were students. This year, I anticipate even more students will be in Orlando for our National Meeting. Students are now leading sessions at our Institutes and Conferences, providing valuable ideas and input for faculty members about civic engagement programming, and they are rolling up their sleeves and working in partnership with faculty members, staff, and administrators to do the difficult work of institutionalizing civic engagement on campus.

For those of you who already work with students in your civic engagement projects, kudos! As many in my generation would say, “you know what’s up!” For those of you who don’t yet, I encourage you to find passionate students on campus to work with (trust me, this will not be hard!). Give them responsibility. Ask for their input. Seek their expertise and knowledge when developing programs/events/community-university partnerships, etc. Not only will you be giving them an opportunity to develop their civic and leadership skills, but you will be astounded by how much richer your civic engagement work will be because of your students.

Check out Jack’s upcoming student conference, “The Citizens Toolbox: What’s in Yours?” It will take place in Oxford, Ohio, March 16-19, 2011. For more information about this exciting student conference, please visit this website.

Question: How have you collaborated with students on your campus to do civic engagement work? And, students, how have you worked with faculty members?


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