West Virginia University students and faculty will have an even greater chance to serve the states citizens because of recent awards given through the WVU W. K. Kellogg”Expanding Community Partnerships”grants.

Fifteen programs based around the state, which range from historic preservation and assistance with at-risk youth programs, to building an equestrian trail and boarding facility, and teaching elementary school children a second language, received more than $180,000 in grants.

Eight WVU academic colleges or schools and the WVU Extension Service are represented in the collaborative projects. Some of the program awards continue successful partnerships while others provide the basis for new ones.

The”Expanding Community Partnerships”program began four years ago after WVU received a four-year $1.25 million grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to create partnerships with West Virginia communities. The grants address important community-related issues while also providing real-world experiences for WVU students. The program is a joint effort between the WVU Office of Service Learning, WVU Office of the Provost and the WVU Extension Service.

WVU is one of four higher education institutions in the country, and the only school with a statewide mission, to be awarded funds through the Kellogg grant program.

“We all learn in different ways such as reading, listening to a lecture or by doing,”Jill Kriesky, director, WVU Office of Service Learning, said.”Service learning islearning by doingby applying the skills and concepts learned in class toreal worldproblems. There is increasing evidence that students who engage in service learning are more likely to stay in college and perform well in their classes.”

“Likewise, communities are benefiting,”Kriesky said.”We have two communities in Rivesville and Osage with local publications that focus on their news and history, and elementary school children in Wayne County got to attend a Spanish language camp this summer free of charge because foreign language students and instructors spent a week with them in the program. Clearly, opportunities not previously available to communities with diverse needs all over the state are now being met through community/University/service-learning projects.”

Here is a complete list of the funded projects along with their monetary awards:

  • Bulltown Interpretive Project (Braxton County) ($8,500)This program develops interpretive programming at the Bulltown Historic Area in Braxton County. Students working on program materials for the Civil War-era site develop skills in and become spokespersons for community-based heritage tourism efforts around the state. Some of the students live on-site throughout the summer and become more realistically involved in the project. It is a partnership between the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer SciencesDepartment of Recreation, Parks and Tourism Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Friends of Bulltown.
  • Bunners Ridge Riding Club Horse Park and Overnight Camping Facility (Marion County) ($12,500)The riding club plans to build equestrian trails and a primitive campground on 12 acres of land donated by Colonel Jack”Hardrock”Bunner. The site is planned as a unique recreation destination for trail riding enthusiasts and a stopping place for long-distance horse transporters. WVU and Fairmont State College students, assisted by group and community members, will design the parks layout, install drainage and clear property to construct a pavilion. The project is a partnership between the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer SciencesDepartment of Landscape Architecture, Fairmont State College, and group and community members.
  • City Cemetery Restoration Project (Marion County) ($13,000)The project builds on the initial success realized through a partnership between WVU Extension Service, WVU Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the WVU College of Engineering to reclaim and renovate Fairmonts City Cemetery. This year, 612 MAC , a community center located near the projects work site, joins the partnership. Youths attending the center will develop research and computer skills while they learn about the cemetery project. Community members, students, and faculty will co ntinue cleanup, archeological documentation, and virtual imaging at the site.
  • Community-Based Journalism Rivesville(Marion County) ($15,275)Journalism students are receiving realistic experience in basic newsgathering skills and newspaper production through this project. The publication, titled the Mon Valley Voice, provides current and former citizens of the Marion County community information on social and cultural events, and includes features on life-long residents. The collaborative project between students and faculty in the WVU School of Journalism and the Rivesville Cultural and Educational Center is in its third year.
  • Community-Based Journalism Scotts Run(Monongalia County) ($17,560)Journalism students will learn the skills required to produce a newspaper while helping to record and preserve the history of the Scotts Run community in Monongalia County. The publication, titled The Compass, provides the communitys residents information on social and cultural events in the local area, and features residents who have long-standing ties to the community and its history. Community members and local media relations specialists will make presentations to the students to broaden their expertise.
  • Project CHOICE (Community Housing Options In Collaborative Effort) (Monongalia County) ($2,500)This project will develop a resource from which area residents can receive information on available housing options including floor plans, financing and other assistance. It is a partnership between the WVU Extension Services Monongalia County office and a group that includes 20 other service-related agencies. The partners will plan how to integrate service learning opportunities into their work as it becomes a sustainable community network.
  • Green Space Coalition Summit and Sustainable Funding Grant (Monongalia County) ($16,640.17)Students from the WVU School of Journalisms public relations and the WVU Davis College of Agriculture and Forestrys recreation, parks and tourism departments will learn fundraising, promotions and database management skills while helping to organize the Mon Valley Green Space Coalitions Spring Summit.
  • Extension Planning Grant Marion County ($1,000)This partnership between the WVU Extension Service and North Central Community Action, Fairmont Community Development Partnership, WVU Center for Black Culture and Research, Fairmont State College and the County Connection will plan and organize two forums that focus on activities at a local community center known as 612 MAC . After the forums, leaders from those organizations and local citizens will explore educational programming needs for the neighborhoods at-risk youth and locate funding sources for those initiatives.
  • West Virginia/Guanajuato, MexicoLanguage and Cultural Education Capacity Building Partnership (Wayne County) ($20,366.50) WVU Extension, WVU Department of Foreign Languages and Colegio Valenciana in Guanajuato, Mexico, will extend their Spanish language and Mexican cultural program to Genoa Elementary School in Wayne County, WV, and La Escuela Luis Gonzalez Obregon in Mexico. A similar program was started at Fort Gay Elementary School in Wayne County last year and was extremely successful. Activities include cultural events and language skill development training through a peer-teacher arrangement and electronic pen pals.
  • Increasing Social Capital in Rural Communities Project (Marion County) ($16,700)Students from the WVU School of Social Work will work with the United Way of Marion County, Marion County Family Resources Network and the Marion County Parks and Recreation Commission to increase participation in and access to social service resources in the countys rural communities. The students will conduct surveys and other activities to prioritize health care, economic, child development and recreational needs. They will also organize the distribution of Childrens Health Initiative Program (CHIP) literature throughout the county.
  • Retention of At-Risk Students: A Collaborative Tutoring Program (Monongalia County) ($12,250)Twenty students from the WVU Honors Program will work with the Childrens Home Society of West Virginia to provide an in-school tutoring program for at-risk children. The honors students will record their experiences in a journal for use in a course specifically designed for mentors.
  • Special Olympics Coaching Education Grant (Various Locations Statewide) ($9,920)The project develops a pool of potential volunteers from those students majoring in athletic coaching or are training to become physical education or special education teachers. Those students work with Special Olympics athletes in basketball, soccer, bowling, track and field and volleyball in various locations throughout the state. It is a partnership between the WVU School of Physical Education, College of Human Resources and Education and West Virginia Special Olympics.
  • Volunteer Trail Maintenance and Monitoring Program (Monongalia County) ($10,955)Students from the WVU Recreation, Parks and Tourism program and representatives from the Mon River Trails Conservancy (MRTC) will evaluate the use of a manual produced by the groups last year, and evaluate its use along the trails maintained by the MRTC . Students and conservancy members will also recruit community volunteers to participate in trail maintenance and other programs.
  • Watersheds and Their Communities Project (Potomac Highlands) ($10,610.01)This project is a stewardship program, which works to build critical thinking, communication and teamwork skills in students. It also teaches them about diversity and regeneration methods related to watershed restoration, agriculture, forestry and community service. It will expand to include a community-based training workshop, an independent study program on watersheds, and a two-credit hour practicum course on sustainable community development. The project is a partnership between Potomac State College, the West Virginia Stewardship Collaborative and the Lightstone Foundation.
  • Writing Heritage Project (Monongalia County) ($20,091)Students and faculty from the WVU English departments Center for Writing Excellence and representatives from the West Virginia Dialect Project will help citizens of Scotts Run in Monongalia County collect historical and other materials about the community. The students will participate in various activities, such as storytelling and memoir writing that record the areas history and cultural background. A Web site is eventually planned based on the information gathered during the project.