Service learning projects connect students with the community


At Starker Arts Garden for Education in Southwest Corvallis, students from Oregon State University knelt to rake, weed rows of vegetables and haul mulch in wheelbarrows. Fall Into Service Day, held during Welcome Week, targets first-year students, getting them involved with volunteering as soon as they arrive on campus.

Oregon State’s Center for Civic Engagement organizes five major volunteer events each year that draw more than a third of the student body. In 2014-15, more than 8,900 students participated in 111 different projects, logging more than 75,600 volunteer hours.

According to Starker Arts Garden manager and volunteer coordinator Carrie Norris-Sanchez, Oregon State students account for nearly half of all volunteers at the garden.

“We love having the students out here,” she says. The garden donates 3-4 tons of produce each year to nine community organizations, including the Oregon State Food Pantry, South Corvallis Food Bank and Stone Soup.

Emily Bowling, assistant director for the Center for Civic Engagement, believes service learning projects help students develop a sense of civic identity and a lifelong ethic to contribute to their communities.

“It helps them to see themselves as part of a larger community…that they feel their actions make a difference,” she says.

Already this fall, Oregon State students have collected canned goods and monetary donations during Halloween for the Oregon State Food Pantry, picked up littered cigarette butts near campus and completed maintenance projects at the ball fields near Cheldelin Middle School.

Bowling invites community organizations and groups in need of volunteers to contact the center at 541-737-3041 or visit

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