In far eastern Montana, experiential education is readily accessible if a college student is studying ranch/farm operations, early childhood education, or Fish and Wildlife management. It is less accessible for criminal justice or law enforcement students and for students considering moving on to four year programs in social work. That is where opportunities for volunteering become critical as students experience applications of book learning. Three sets of student volunteers in the past week have had rare opportunities to apply their academics in real-life situations.
Students who are general volunteers with Dawson Community College’s Campus Corp Program spent an afternoon moving furniture from the basement of Dawson County Domestic Violence center to Zion Lutheran Church, to be obtained, free of charge, by those who need it most. The Domestic Violence program rents rooms through a transitional housing program. Tenants unneeded furniture was stored in a basement room needed for program activities.
One afternoon last week the students used their own pickups and took six full truckloads to the Zion Lutheran Church free furniture store. The students watched as low income families welcomed the desks, chairs, televisions, microwaves and all kinds of other basic furnishings. When all has been claimed, the students will be back with more loads from Domestic Violence. Their experience helped two local non-profits and gave the students a window into hands-on social services.
Tuesday’s Keystone XL hearing was the the climax of weeks of planning by incident commander and Glendive Police Chief Alan Michaels, the Local Emergency Planning Committee, and local, state, and federal law enforcement. It was a difficult task to plan for the event which had high security concerns and a concern for everyone to maintain their freedom of speech in a safe environment. Chief Michaels and the agencies working with him utilized two different groups of students in two capacities.
More than a dozen Dawson Community College Law enforcement students participated in the process. Unlike large city students, an event requiring this level of security does not happen every day. In fact, it had never happened before in Glendive, Montana. Students got their first taste of security detail as they were positioned as first-contact guards a half mile down the road from the college. Others were stationed around the dorms and other out buildings and some were assisting with parking detail and security. The work of the students freed sworn officers to give more attention to maintaining peace. The event went off smoothly.
Inside the hearing, more students were enlisted to volunteer. Womens’ basketball players sat through the entire hearing running the time clock and numbering system for speakers. While operating the equipment that their sport uses every day, those students were given front row seats to listen to the stream of elected officials, CEO’s, labor leaders, and private citizens participate in the civic process first hand.
Each group of Dawson students performed very different functions in their volunteer experiences this week, critical to the community. Susan Anderson, the executive director of the Dawson County Domestic Violence program, said she could not believe how quickly the crew worked and said she was “amazed at what a benefit the organization is to the community.”
If your non-profit would like to request similar help or host an Montana Campus Corp volunteer event, contact the Office of Community Involvement at [email protected]
Jacob Kilgore, the Dawson Community College Campus Corps Leader contributed to this story. Dawson Community College is located in Glendive, MT.