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* Purdue University Office of Engagement

March 29, 2007

Community benefits from service-learning projects

Jenna Stetler, left, Jennifer Slack
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From working with wildlife rehabilitation providers, to caring for pets of displaced families, to helping physics teachers integrate cutting-edge research into their curriculum, Purdue University students this semester are taking a variety of service-learning courses that weave volunteer experiences into the classroom.

The Office of the Provost has awarded 10 service-learning faculty development grants worth $2,000 to fund the courses. $155,000 in service-learning grants have been awarded to 55 faculty since 2003.

Students in veterinary clinical sciences, for example, are caring for family pets in need of short-term emergency housing. Janice Sojka, associate professor of veterinary clinical sciences, said students also will work with the families.

"They will teach children who live with their mothers in the domestic violence shelter the importance of proper animal care and bite prevention," Sojka said. "Pets owned by violent families are more likely to be abused. By performing this community service, the students will increase their appreciation of the role of animals in households of families in crisis."

Sojka's students also assist with intake assessment at the Clinton County Humane Society.

Purdue physics students will help high school physics teachers assemble and operate a detector that allows students to observe cosmic rays. Matthew Jones, assistant professor of physics, said the effort is supported by a national program called QuarkNet, which is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Energy.

"The program is designed to involve teachers in cutting-edge high-energy particle physics research," Jones said. "The students provide support for the teachers, who built the detectors during a summer workshop."

Service-learning projects are coordinated through Purdue's Center for Instructional Excellence. The Office of Engagement also has provided more than $68,500 in funding for 64 service projects conducted by student organizations in 2006-07. Projects have ranged from a public relations campaign on flu prevention to building new structures for animals in the Columbian Park Zoo in Lafayette.

Writer: Marydell Forbes, (765) 496-7704,

Sources: Marne Helgesen, Center for Instructional Excellence director, (765) 496-6424,

Janice Sojka, (765) 494-6623,

Matthew Jones, (765) 496-2464,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Note to Journalists: A complete list of 2006-07 service-learning grants with project descriptions is available by contacting Marydell Forbes, Purdue News Service, at (765) 496-7704,

Jenna Stetler, from left, visits with Purdue University veterinary medicine student Jennifer Slack and her dog, Riot, at a YWCA program. Slack is enrolled in a Purdue service-learning course through which veterinary students teach children who live with their mothers in the domestic violence shelter the importance of proper animal care and bite prevention. The course is funded by a $2,000 grant from the Office of the Provost. $155,000 in service-learning grants has been awarded to 55 faculty since 2003. (Purdue News Service Photo/David Umberger.)

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