(Posted September 5, 2000)

Juniata recently was awarded a grant that will support a yearlong PACC-VISTA worker who will help to strengthen the college?s Service-Learning efforts. Juniata was one of 26 institutions that applied for 10 such grants from the Corporation for National Service through Pennsylvania Campus Compact-Americorp*VISTA.

The PACC/VISTA worker, Michelle Messersmith, recently started at Juniata. "She?s going to assist with the development of the Service-Learning program across the curriculum," said Jenell Patton, Juniata?s Director of Service-Learning and Volunteer Programs and the person who applied for the grant on Juniata?s behalf.

Messersmith, a graduate of Allegheny College, is from Sharon, Pa. Messersmith brings a wealth of experience to Juniata. She was the community service coordinator and resident director of a community service special interest residence hall at Allegheny College, and did a senior project developing a Service- Learning program for at-risk children in a group home. Although Messersmith had never been to Huntingdon or Juniata College, she already feels comfortable here. "I think it?s great," she said. "It?s comforting that Juniata is so similar to Allegheny. I feel right at home."

Patton hopes that with Messersmith?s help, she can use the next year to better integrate the Service-Learning efforts on campus. In particular, Messersmith will help to coordinate a database of students and/or student organizations that are participating in service projects. She also will meet with representatives of the many human service agencies in Huntingdon. "I?m really going to be working on collaborating students in town in Service-Learning initiatives," Messersmith said.

Messersmith also will play a key role in planning the Service-Learning Spring Break Trip, this year to the Appalachian Mountains. She will assist in compiling a database of what Service-Learning projects Juniata professors are using in their classes and will help to coordinate the volunteers for the Community Service Work-Study program.

"The overall goal is to develop a service learning program, to get students more civic-minded," Patton said. "We also want them to understand that education doesn?t happen in a bubble, these are real issues they?re studying."

For more information on Juniata?s service learning initiatives, call Jenell Patton at (814) 641-3365.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.