(Posted December 16, 2002)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College has cultivated the concept of students providing service to the community, one of the central tenets of the Church of the Brethren faith held in common by the college's founders. Students at Juniata have always been active in service programs, but college administrators note that many more students are finding service to be an indispensable part of their education.

"There are so many service-related activities happening every week, it's literally hard to keep track of them," says Kelly Turlish, coordinator of community service/service learning at Juniata. "Students are realizing that service is something they can learn from."

Last year, during the 2001-2002 academic year, Juniata students recorded 30,762 hours of service work. Projects that involved fund raising for local organizations such as the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity and other groups totaled $19,823 for the year. So far, more than $4,500 has been raised for various charities during the 2002-2003 academic year.

About 925 Juniata students participate in service projects each year, according to Turlish. The percentage of students from the college's 1,300-plus student body participating in service is a robust 66 percent.

"I think Juniata draws students who are more involved in the world around them and realize that academics are not the only highlight of the college experience," says Hillary Sherman, PCCC-Americorps VISTA volunteer for the community service office.

While many Juniata students discover areas to offer services on their own, there are several programs at the college that offer structured programs in community service.

--Service-Learning at Juniata: This 1-credit course asks students to perform a minimum of 27 hours of service, in addition to class time. This semester 21 students were enrolled in the pass/fail class. Students in the class volunteer at Huntingdon agencies such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Head Start, Huntingdon Manor, J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital and the Salvation Army Ark of Learning.

--Community Service-Based Work Study: A small percentage of the students who participate in work-study programs at Juniata College, must work at agencies outside the campus. This semester 58 students are taking part in programs off campus. Students in the program earn the $5.15 per hour minimum wage, of which Juniata pays the majority, with the local agencies contributing $1.29 per hour of that wage.

Students in this program work as tutors in local elementary schools as part of the America Reads and America Counts programs, at Juniata's early Childhood Education Center, Horsepower Farms, the Raystown Field Station, Families R First and many other local organizations. "We have created partnerships with four new agencies this year," Turlish says of the program.

--Juniata College Community Service Board: This group is comprised of representatives from Juniata clubs and organizations who coordinate collaboration on service projects from the college's many student organizations. The board also sponsors a Year of the Young Child Carnival held every spring on the Juniata campus. Some 20 representatives from various college organizations regularly contribute to the board.

"The board is trying to create more of an official structure, so our service projects are not overlapping or offering help at just a few organizations," Turlish says.

Juniata Student Clubs

Almost every college club or organization offers some sort of service outreach or fund-raising projects. The Circle K club sponsors the Mr. Juniata contest, which raised more than $2,000 this year, and implemented the outreach program Take a Kid to a Game, which is a collaborative effort between the NCAA, Juniata and Big Brothers/Big Sisters aimed at bringing children to a Juniata football game. "At halftime, the kids get their faces painted and play games. After the game, the kids get autographs from the players and cheerleaders," Turlish says.

The college's Habitat for Humanity student club has several unique fund-raising efforts. Haircuts for Humanity asks hairstylists from Holiday Hair to donate time to give $5 haircuts to Juniata students, staff and faculty. Another effort, Hire-a-Habitator, in which club members hire themselves out for do-it-yourself projects for $5 an hour, has been very successful.
Other clubs offer many different volunteer and outreach events, including Special Olympics (sponsored by Juniata Active Volunteer Association), Dream to Read (sponsored by the Juniata Athletic Department), tutoring programs (sponsored by Juniata Instructors of the Future) and countless others.

"During spring break, students from Juniata will be traveling to Guatemala and to Ashville, N.C.," Sherman says. "If there is an area a student is interested in, Juniata probably has a volunteer program for it."

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