Wayne State College
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Award-Winning Service-Learning Program Continues Vital Projects

Published Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Wayne State College Service-Learning projects continue each year to serve the community and add the important elements of practical experience and civic engagement to students’ education.

Wayne State College Service-Learning projects continue each year to serve the community and add the important elements of practical experience and civic engagement to students’ education.

"Wayne State College has a long, distinguished history of service to our region and Service-Learning plays an important role in our efforts," said Wayne State President Curt Frye. "Much of the credit belongs to the students and faculty who provide such an important service to Northeast Nebraska."

Each semester since 2005, more than 400 Wayne State College students have participated in Service-Learning projects under the direction of WSC faculty members. The WSC Service-Learning program promotes, mobilizes, and supports the efforts of the college, united in strengthening academic and co-curricular programs through projects in our communities, state and nation.

Many faculty members include annual projects within their course offerings on campus, coordinating the projects in addition to their day-to-day role in educating college students.

Dr. Barbara Hayford, Sara Walsh, and Dr. Kelly Dilliard of Wayne State College combined their efforts to benefit Wayne Izaak Walton League Lake. Students in Wayne State’s Development of Science in Elementary and Middle School class (DSEMS) and the Aquatic Ecology seminar hosted a biological assessment of the Wayne Chapter Isaak Walton League Lake (IKES Lake) by Wayne Public School third-graders. 

The event involved WSC Aquatic Ecology students setting up sampling stations. The DSEMS students hosted activities. All data generated by the event was collected by the Aquatic Ecology students and will be converted for use by the third-graders so they can work through brief problems and make decisions about the condition of IKES Lake. 

The director of the A. Jewell Schock Museum of Natural History at Wayne State College will write and disseminate the final report.

"Our efforts will generate valuable data for the Isaak Walton League to use in examining the cause and effects of possible eutrophication on fish mortality in their Lake,” said Dr. Barbara Hayford, associate professor of life science. “The IKES Lake has experienced fish kills during the summers of 2006-2008 and no fish were found in the Lake by July 2008. Eutrophication is a natural aging process in which lakes gradually fill with sediment becoming more productive through increased plant and algal growth. Eventually lakes become wetlands through this process. Human caused or anthropogenic eutrophication is the process by which lakes quickly fill with sediments released from soils through tilling, new construction, and grazing. In addition, different types of nitrogen and phosphorus based fertilizers applied to row crops, lawns, and gardens may be carried into lakes leading to an increase in algae and plants. These plants produce a lot of oxygen, which supports more and more animals. Eventually the demand for oxygen in the lake by animals and plants alike is greater than the amount of oxygen produced by the plants. At this point oxygen can decrease to dangerously low levels, killing fish." 

“Biological assessment may be used to examine the diversity of ecosystems,” Hayford continued. “We will examine the diversity of aquatic and terrestrial life in and near IKES Lake. We will also examine current sediment levels and pH in the lake and will conduct environmental education activities. Environmental education is an important part of conservation and educating third grade participants will serve larger conservation efforts of the Izaak Walton League and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Natural Legacy and Wildlife Action Plans.” 

World Heart Day, held in October, provided blood pressure screening, heart health information, heart healthy snacks, and recreation for families and children at the Wayne City Auditorium. Wayne State College cardiac rehab students partnered with the Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department, Wayne Rotary Club, and Iglesia Apostolica de la Fe en Cristos Jesus to provide a community family event to celebrate World Heart Day and encourage heart healthy activities and diets. The event was co-sponsored with funding from WSC Service-Learning and Rotary District 5650 District grants, and the City of Wayne Community Activity Center. 

World Heart Day encourages everyone to live a heart-healthy life by exercising, eating healthy and eliminating tobacco use to reduce the entire family's risk of heart disease and stroke. Mirian Aguirre, Nebraska Health Department, Lincoln, Neb., moderated Community Conversations. The Wayne Rotary Club presented gifts for the Hispanic Youth Sport Equipment and Program. 

In the fall of 2013, students enrolled in Dr. Jason Karsky’s emergency management course at Wayne State discussed how they might serve the community following the destructive tornado that occurred on Oct. 4, 2013. While many WSC students volunteered for clean-up and other tornado recovery efforts, Karsky’s class worked to commemorate the town's response and recovery from the devastating storm as well as ensure better safety practices on campus.

As part of their academic Service-Learning project, the Emergency Management students initiated an analysis of emergency directives including shelter and refuge signage for the campus, which has resulted in each campus building receiving up-to-date posted procedures. Fall 2014 emergency management students worked on the logistics and planning for the one-year anniversary event, installing and dedicating a large granite historical marker with a bronze plaque that reads: “On Oct. 4, 2013 one of the most devastating tornados in the history of Wayne County, Neb. left an unprecedented path of destruction. The historic marker is dedicated to community residents, business owners, employees, volunteers, and responders who endured the disastrous events of that day and underwent a most challenging recovery. Called by circumstance, burdened by misfortune, yet inspired by a confident hope, the fury of Mother Nature’s EF4 Tornado was met by an unrelenting spirit and the best of humanity.”

“This is a fairly uncharacteristic project for our emergency management students as we usually are working with local emergency responders by organizing mock exercises,’’ Karsky said. “Through this project, students have been able understand that service to the community can be historical in nature, and since Wayne was affected immensely by the tornado we should make sure that generations to come remember that October day and the difficult days that followed.” 

Institutional funds from Wayne State College and WSC Service-Learning as well as the City of Wayne provided the financial support for the memorial plaque and historical marker.

Service-Learning includes the arts, as well. Wayne Community Theatre will present The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Abridged, a humorous play by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield at the Majestic Theatre in downtown Wayne at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13 and 14. A Saturday matinee will be performed at 3 p.m. Nov. 15. The show is directed by Mollie Spieker with a production team consisting of two groups of students from the Introduction to Theatre courses from WSC and other WSC staff. The show is sponsored in part by the Service-Learning program at Wayne State College and the Wayne United Way. Tickets will be $6 at the door. For information: Lisa Nelson at 402-375-7030.

Other Service-Learning projects for fall:

  • Students are working to reduce hunger and homelessness with the Cram the Van project under the direction of Dr. Todd Greene, associate professor of sociology. 
  • A Service-Learning affinity Reunion was held during Homecoming, which included a show featuring restored historical photos renewed as part of Service-Learning project by Josh Piersanti, assistant professor of art and design, and graphic design students.
  • Students are working with residents at the Oaks senior center to share and write life stories.
  • Students in Environmental Geology are working to set-up a long-term stream monitoring of South Logan Creek for the City of Wayne. The class has started the project by collecting some initial values. The project is under the direction of Dr. Kelly Dilliard and Dr. Barbara Hayford.
  • Dr. Lisa Ryherd, assistant professor of criminal justice, has criminal justice students enrolled in a bullying course organizing and providing a bullying assembly at the Wayne Elementary Middle School. The students will provide books on bullying that will be left at the school as a resource. They will also give the youth books to take home.