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National Youth Service Day is April 15-17

MARCH 24, 2005--Service-learning is a concept that has taken hold in the American classroom, and April 15-17 has been designated National Youth Service Day to celebrate the movement.

According to the National Center on Education Statistics, by 1999, almost one-third of public schools, which includes close to half of all high schools, included service-learning as part of the curriculum.

That number continues to grow, according to Stan Potts, coordinator of the UW-River Falls Online Graduate Certificate in Service-Learning

"More than one million students participated in service-learning in 2003 through the national Learn and Serve America program," says Potts. "When students are engaged in meaningful service to their schools and their communities, both they and their communities benefit. Educators across the country are discovering the rewards of incorporating established curricula with hands-on service projects to increase student involvement and enhance academic achievement, citizenship, and character development."

With roots in experiential or hands-on learning, today's concept of service-learning is contemporary in that it links community service to school curricula. According to a report by the National Commission on Service Learning, the concept is a teaching and learning approach that integrates community service with academic study to enrich learning, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.

The report notes: "For half a century, service-learning has spread in American schools. In the last decade, it was spurred to new growth by congressional and presidential actions and funding. In increasing numbers, schools have provided service-learning opportunities for students that connect their curriculum studies to activities such as tutoring younger children, adopting a river, creating a museum exhibit, or conducting oral histories with senior citizens. In these and similar instructional activities, youth have simultaneously learned to serve and served to learn. They are becoming both better students and better citizens."

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls, working in partnership with the National Youth Leadership Council supported by the State Farm Companies Foundation, offers a graduate-level certificate in service-learning. The program assists educators to understand, plan and apply service-learning methods in their classrooms and communities.

This program is one of the few graduate-credit certificates in service-learning offered via the Internet, according to Potts. All courses are completed with a cohort of peers, and participants gain useful skills that can be applied in the classroom.

In addition, participants get credit for work experience through a practicum and enjoy the rewards from bringing a service-learning program into their communities, says Potts. The course also provides the skills necessary to earn the NYLC's National Service Learning Certificate currently under development.

This program is designed for teachers, school administrators, recipients of the Corporation for National Service "Learn and Serve America" grants, and community leaders and others who support civic engagement of youth.

The UW-River Falls program is comprised of four, three-credit graduate classes and one, three-credit practicum. The course schedule allows a cohort of students complete the program within one year. Participants must apply and meet minimum requirements for graduate study at UW-River Falls before registering for courses in this program. All participants, regardless of state residency, will pay Wisconsin resident tuition for each course.

The program begins with the course, "Introduction to Service-Learning." A live teleconference on June 28 will help familiarize students with the online software used as well as the program content. For more information, including application forms and instructions, visit the Web site, or call the UW-RF Graduate Studies Office at (715) 425-3843 or (800) 228-5607 or e-mail


Last updated: Tuesday, 22-Jun-2010 16:21:21 Central Daylight Time

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