Central College News

Featured: Service Learning in the Great Outdoors

July 1, 2014
While studying environmental literature, Central senior Emily Saville helped Jasper County Conservation Board naturalists lead activities for area kids to explore nature.

While studying environmental literature, Central senior Emily Saville helped Jasper County Conservation Board naturalists lead activities for area kids to explore nature.

Emily Saville ’15 learned to love nature as a child, and she has not forgotten this love as a young adult. In fact, Saville has been helping children discover the wonders of their environment as a Jasper County Conservation Board intern.

Saville, a Central College student from Cedar Rapids, was offered the internship last fall through the service-learning option in her nature and environmental literature course. “The position really fit in well with the class,” Saville said. “I would read nature writers like Aldo Leopold, Barbara Kingsolver and Michael Pollan, and then I would see what they were writing about in real life at my internship.”

As an intern, Saville had the opportunity to help promote the Conservation Board and assist naturalists with programs for elementary school kids. Part of the board’s mission is to cultivate a love of nature in children, with the goal that they learn to value the environment throughout life. “I have always had a love for the outdoors,” said Saville. “I hope the kids who experience the programs with the naturalists create lifelong memories and learn to love nature just as I did.”

Saville’s favorite internship activity was a Halloween hike program, when children hiked forest trails decked out in costumes. Before the event, Saville and the naturalists sprinkled special dust on corn along the trail. During the hike, they shined a black light on the corn, and the glowing dust revealed where animals had been. “You could see all the different footprints,” Saville said. “The kids loved it, and they loved seeing nature and being close to it.”

Saville, a senior psychology major, plans to pursue graduate studies in counseling after graduation. Through her internship, Saville said she gained many valuable skills, like planning events and collaborating with others. “My work at Jasper County didn’t directly pertain to my major,” Saville said, “but any opportunity to work with all different kinds of people is important in the psychology field.”

Saville’s literature class is one of many Central College courses that include a service-learning component. Central partners with more than 100 community agencies and grassroots organizations throughout central Iowa to create these opportunities, and the college has received federal recognition from the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.

 

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