RENO — Following through with promises made by former University of Nevada, Reno President Milton Glick, the university’s Cooperative Extension program is hosting the first annual service-learning conference from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today in the Harry Reid Engineering Laboratory on campus.
The conference is being hosted by the Service Learning Council, a group of 12 university and state representatives from programs such as the Sanford Center for Aging, the university’s Honors Program and Nevada Volunteers. University students and faculty will host a series of lectures and roundtable discussions pertaining service learning, a type of education devoted to teaching through volunteering and experiential learning.
In 2010, the university joined Campus Compact, a coalition of nearly 1,200 universities and colleges around the country dedicated to increasing awareness and involvement in service learning. Since then, a number of campus groups have begun to promote such efforts, including the Honors Program, which has partnered with 30 non-profit organizations and donated more than 1,000 hours this year alone, according to Honors Program director Tamara Valentine.
For students, Valentine said, “It’s about building your resume and your experience, but it also gives you an idea of the issues in your community.”
Students in the Honors Program can take a course that requires them to complete at least 15 hours of community service, but many students surpass the minimum and donate more time than required, Valentine said. These volunteer hours can lead to some students continuing to volunteer their time, creating a domino effect that lasts throughout their college careers, she said.
Service learning has helped Ivon Padilla-Rodriguez, a freshman honors student who will be speaking at the conference, make a huge impact in the Reno arts community. Rodriguez began volunteering at the Good Luck Macbeth Classic Theater Company last semester. Although students were only required to volunteer 15 hours, Rodriguez volunteered more than 100 hours throughout the semester, and has nearly doubled that amount since January. The Las Vegas native helped build props, assisted with lights and sound, and created a workshop for children to learn how to act.
“Service learning is really important to me, and I think it does fulfill its promise of bringing the arts to the Reno community,” she said.