Academic journal article The Agricultural Education Magazine

Using Service Learning to Build Our Communities

Academic journal article The Agricultural Education Magazine

Using Service Learning to Build Our Communities

Article excerpt

The FFA Motto states very plainly that our members of the organization are "Living to Serve". I believe our students of agricultural education have been serving in their communities for decades, and will continue to do so for many years to come. However, I believe we are now becoming more aware of how this service to our community can be "taken to the next level", and truly make connections for all involved. Has there always been benefit to conducting community service? Sure. However, as you will see in several of the articles in this issue, there is much more to be gained by taking what may have started as a community service project and turning it into a service learning project. Your students have so much to gain through any type of service, but why not take the extra time and energy to make it a truly impactful learning experience for all that are involved?

When I began teaching high school agriculture, I had been exposed to the importance of conducting community service with my students. As a student teacher, I was required to conduct some type of community service project with my students. At that time, I didn't realize that what we were doing was service learning. Now, don't get me wrong, I had no idea that we were conducting service learning, and yes, I know that we were missing parts of the overall model. However, the project of working with my high school students to teach "bike safety" to the elementary students went beyond the basic definition of community service. Yes, some of the student teachers that were conducting projects may have been more agriculturally focused, but most were true community service projects, rather than service learning.

When our students participate in community events, they are growing as citizens of that community. I know we all conduct programs that allow our students to become involved in various community activities; inside and outside of the schools where we teach. However, I believe that this issue's theme of Service Learning will push many of us to rethink how we engage with the community through our programming. …

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