UNI recently celebrated its commitment to community engagement by highlighting UNI-led projects that help students develop skills needed for success in today's workforce. UNI's Office of Community Engagement, in partnership with the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley, hosted the inaugural Community Engagement Celebration Day on Thursday, April 19. This event highlighted 70 community service projects by UNI faculty, staff, students, centers and institutes, and community partners.
“Research indicates that methods displayed in the work highlighted at the celebration are high-impact, high-quality, and student learning is significantly better in these scenarios than in a traditional lecture style,” explained Julianne Gassman, director of Community Engagement at UNI. “We've been doing this type of community engagement work for decades but never paused to lift up the work and impact from the variety of projects, ranging from individuals to groups and from students to faculty/staff.”
With over 50% of UNI students participating in some form of community service, the 70 projects on display were just a small sample of the class projects, student organization projects, community-based research and individual community engagement work that the campus community undertakes each year.
UNI students involved in the Service and Leadership Council, for example, developed teamwork skills by coordinating a community-wide project with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank to prepare more than 14,000 backpacks filled with nutritious food items for children who experience food insecurity outside of school hours. UNI's dedication to strengthening the community through high impact projects like those showcased at the celebration are a direct reflection of the ongoing mission and continuous efforts to build relationships. that enhance learning and strengthen Iowa communities.