Service opportunities abound at Iowa
Here's a little secret about community service: most volunteers get back just as much—if not more—than they give.
That's especially true when those volunteers are college students eager to learn new skills, explore career options, network, and feel connected to and at home in their new communities.
Plus, studies have shown students engaged in service learning show greater satisfaction with their courses and report higher levels of learning about the academic field and the community.
That's part of the reason service is considered central to the undergraduate experience at The University of Iowa. It's even part of The Iowa Challenge, a grass-roots statement of what it means to be a Hawkeye.
Did you know?
Iowa college students rank second in the nation in volunteering within the college student demographic, according to a 2010 report by Volunteering in America.
"The University of Iowa is becoming an increasingly engaged institution at so many levels," says Mary Mathew Wilson, director of the UI's Community-Based Learning Program (CBLP), an office that helps students explore majors and careers through experiential education opportunities like volunteering, service-learning courses, and nonprofit internships.
"Residence Life has implemented Saturdays in Service events, the Honors Program organizes ongoing volunteer opportunities, and the number of service-learning course offerings that connect students' service to course content is definitely on the rise. Student organizations across the board are much more intentional about getting their members involved in group volunteer or philanthropy opportunities," she says.Plus, students spend thousands of hours each year volunteering on an ongoing basis for local nonprofits like Meals on Wheels, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the Crisis Center of Johnson County.
The University offers numerous resources to help students find volunteer experiences that match their interests and time and transportation limitations.
Volunteer fairs are held at the beginning of each semester. Students also can visit the CBLP's web page, www.careers.uiowa.edu/cblp, to sign up for an e-mail newsletter listing current volunteer opportunities, access a transportation guide, and fill out a volunteer interest profile. After submitting the profile, they'll be contacted by CBLP staff for guidance on finding a good volunteer match.
"We really emphasize the connection between volunteering and career exploration, but we also work with many students who have already established their major and career goals," Mathew Wilson says.
University of Iowa students are especially interested in volunteer opportunities that relate to the environment, animals, and working with children or the elderly, Mathew Wilson says. The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics also has a popular volunteer program.
Student volunteers' hard work is celebrated and recognized each spring by The 10,000 Hours Show (10K), a free concert for which the only admission is ten or more volunteer hours to local nonprofit organizations. Past shows have featured OK Go, Ben Folds, Cake, and others.