Students in service clubs make volunteering an everyday habit

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ever tried to roll an egg with your chin and nose? It's no easy task, but it sure is fun to try.

Last Thursday afternoon, a group of Greenville Middle School students got to not only hunt eggs; they got to roll, kick, and carry the fragile &#8220hen apples” in a spoon during Easter relays at the Butler County Education and Community Learning Center (BCECLC).

The games, along with refreshments, were a reward to the group for the work they have done on campus.

Their leader, Nancy Idland, passed out shirts to each of the students as the Easter festivities drew to a close.

&#8220You earned these t-shirts by doing a good job with the landscaping here,” Idland told the students.

Idland's group isn't all fun and games. Learning how to follow directions, to work as a team and make a positive difference in their schools and communities: it's all part of the new service groups found in public schools throughout Butler County.

Idland works with 11 Greenville Middle School students who are members of a &#8220Learn and Serve Alabama” service group. Unlike some other service groups, Idland's students meet each school day afternoon.

&#8220These students always have some sort of project going on…the idea is to teach them it is important to make a positive impact on their community,” Idland said.

She recently rounded up her charges to do some hands-on work, planting a tree as part of a landscaping project on the grounds.

&#8220They have already done the other landscaping in front of the new First Steps Childcare Building (the former band building),” Idland said.

The students also enjoy a snack, some recreation time, and time to do their homework each afternoon. But there is always project time set aside.

In addition to their landscaping efforts, the group has done bulletin boards and worked on a local agency resource directory to be published for counselors, nurses and administrators.

&#8220These students are learning as they work on their projects. It's a good experience for them and for the community,” Amy Bryan, building administrator of the BCECLC said. Bryan also serves as the grant writer and program director for the Learn and Serve program.

Idland's service group is part of &#8220Learn and Serve America,” and is funded through a grant that provides seed money for service projects in the county's schools and communities.

&#8220We also have a science service group at GMS led by Kim Bowen. Along with Kim's group, the Builders Club at McKenzie High, led by Louanne Gafford, and Georgiana High's Builders Club, led by Jeremy Doss, are all ‘Learn and Serve' groups,” Bryan said.

&#8220In the past, these groups have done school landscaping projects, city park cleanups, preschool projects – there are too many to name. We are excited about what they are able to contribute to their schools and communities.”

Kimberlei Bowen's &#8220Learn and Serve” Science Group at Greenville Middle School has helped plant trees at the Board of Education and shared science experiments with younger students.

Idland's service group got the chance to work with the community's youngsters last week, when they visited the preschoolers in the Bright Beginnings after-school program.

Idland says she hopes the students in the service group learn the value of volunteering.

&#8220I want them to see it's good to get involved,” Idland said.