College partners with county to create positive change - Progress 2014 - Gettysburg Times

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College partners with county to create positive change

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In 2013, Gettysburg College was one of only five schools in the nation to be named a Presidential Awardee in the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. This is the highest honor a college or university can receive for its commitment to community-based engagement, and we celebrate this award with Adams County. The work we do together creates a stronger community for all of us!

Since 1991, the College's Center for Public Service (CPS) has engaged the campus with the greater Adams County community for social change. This award focused on our partnership work in three major areas: food justice, immigrant families, and K-12 education. Our students, faculty, and local community members have worked together on these issues to create systemic change through dialogue, research, education, direct action, policy and coalition building. Partnership is at the core, with all involved defining our shared work and goals.

FOOD JUSTICE

After five years of providing direct action through the Campus Kitchen at Gettysburg College and coalition building through the Adams County Food Policy Council, CPS supported a variety of new efforts:

Hosting an AmeriCorps VISTA member to coordinate the Food Policy Council, propelling its goals to increase access to fresh foods for low-income families by shifting policy, increasing collaboration and promoting education.

Healthy Options doubled participation since 2011. With support from community members, students and faculty, this initiative provides families experiencing food insecurity, yet not eligible for federal food assistance programs, with educational opportunities and an increased ability to purchase food at the farmers' market.

Our Community-Based Participatory Research manuscript-authored by community members, students, and faculty to assess Healthy Options-was accepted for publication in the Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community as an example of community-university food projects, race, and health promotion.

In partnership with the Gettysburg Foundation, the National Park Service and the Civil War Institute, students researched, designed and implemented Battlefield Community Gardens, a Civil War era heirloom vegetable garden at the historic Sherfy Farm. The project aims to "grow history and feed families" by donating the harvest to the Campus Kitchen.

IMMIGRANT FAMILIES

Twenty-five years of partnership with organizations supporting new immigrants and migrant families have provided opportunities for cross-cultural dialogue, direct action, and community-building while supporting local education, food security, health, and cultural initiatives. New efforts this year include:

Schmucker Gallery hosted Retratos/Portraits: From the Outside Looking In,an exhibit by and of migrant and immigrant families in Adams County. The photographs revealed the importance of faith, family, and the basic humanity that binds us together. The exhibit and subsequent panel discussions were integrated into multiple courses.

The Painted Turtle Farm transitioned into a campus-community hub for food justice by creating space for students and immigrant families to share food traditions, grow vegetables, and create a dialogue on sustainability.

In partnership with Casa de la Cultura-a newly-formed organization that promotes the rights of immigrants-CPS assisted with applications, legal reviews, and transportation to support over 80 youth in receiving Deferred Action status.

K-12 EDUCATION

Support for K-12 education has been a cornerstone of CPS partnerships for more than 25 years. Highlights from this year include:

200 college mentors and 250 children from 12schools in the county joined forces for 10after-school mentoring and tutoring programs, enhancing academic performance and social capital.

A new partnership with Penn State Agricultural Extension provided training and curriculum, supporting students in offering Food, Land, and People-a hands-on, after-school program focused on the environment.

To promote healthy living, cross-cultural learning, and extra-curricular experiences, more than 100 Latino children and dozens of Spanish language students spent Sundays playing soccer in the fall and swimming in the spring.

STUDENT LEADERSHIP FOR SOCIAL CHANGE

Student Program Coordinators, Immersion Project Leaders, and Heston Summer Experience Interns are the core of CPS, providing energy and leadership for social justice domestically and internationally. New initiatives to enhance opportunities, partnership, and action include:

SURGE, a blog, aims to popularize justice by enabling students to relate personal experiences to larger issues of equity, helping each other to recognize biases while focusing on systemic issues. In the first 6 months, www.surgegettysburg.wordpress.com had over 50,000 views of 50 poignant blogs written by 30 students and alumni.

The Heston Summer Experience expanded to Kenya by creating a partnership with Kisumu Medical and Educational Trust (KMET), an organization dedicated to reproductive health, innovative education and economic initiatives. The first group of students partnered with KMET staff in 2012 to implement sustainable solutions.

A revised model of student leadership for Immersion Projects was implemented, providing additional intentional learning opportunities. With a series of training sessions, student leaders are now responsible for recruitment, preparing participants before the experience, ensuring maximum engagement during the trip and connecting social justice issues to the campus upon return.

In partnership with four departments in the College Life Division, CPS expanded social justice education on campus by collaborating to implement a Social Justice Institute and the Leadership Institute. Both serve as experiences to propel student leadership for social change.

LOOKING FORWARD

EXPANDING COMMUNITY-BASED PARTNERSHIPS LOCALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY

Building on Gettysburg College's mission of "preparing students to be active leaders and participants in a changing world," CPS assists faculty to integrate Community-Based Learning into coursework. Within the context of equitable partnership, community organizations and students mutually benefit by meeting course objectives and addressing community-identified goals.

COLLABORATION IN PRACTICE

34%of Gettysburg College students volunteered in a weekly community-based program, providing over 7,200 hours of service in Adams County.

47Program Coordinators, Immersion Project Leaders, and Heston Summer Experience Interns led their peers in social justice action and dialogue, partnering with over 40 community organizations and schools in 4countries  and 5 states.

The Campus Kitchen at Gettysburg College rescued 11,392 pounds of food from 25 donors, serving 6,092 meals with 756 hours of student volunteer power.

22courses facilitated community-based learning and research.