By Ryan Gueningsman
CROOKSTON, MN Delano native Katie Schneider has begun a one-year AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) appointment in the Office of Community Engagement.
A 2012 graduate of the University of Minnesota, Crookston, and former community adviser, Schneider received training in Albuquerque, NM Feb. 26-28.
Schneider will assist with community service and service-learning efforts. She will coordinate service days such as Meet Crookston through Service, National Youth Service Day, and MLK Day of Service.
Her degrees are in equine science and agricultural business, but her passion has always been to work with a non-profit organization.
Growing up on a hobby farm with sheep and horses, along with her 14-year history as a member of 4-H, Schneider found herself donating time to help youth interested in horses and riding.
The first time she received a thank-you note from someone following an equine clinic she hosted, Schneider knew that working for a non-profit was her goal.
“When the opportunity to work as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer on the campus opened, I was interested immediately,” Schneider said. “It is the chance to get students involved in service and make a difference and for me to do the kind of work I love.”
Lisa Loegering, assistant director for community engagement, is looking forward to having Schneider on board.
“We run community service and service learning out of the same office, and having Katie here is an opportunity to develop new programs, new projects, and to really move this office forward,” Loegering said.
The AmeriCorps VISTA appointment is for one year, with an option for a second year. Schneider lives on campus and will be working with community service in the residence halls, as well.
Loegering and Schneider will work as a team, but Loegering hopes to have people see Schneider as the face of community service on the campus, which sounds good to Schneider,
“I am excited to get students involved in volunteering,” she said. “I know the campus and it is exciting to be back in this capacity. I am looking forward to working with Lisa and building on what is going on here.”
The U of M at Crookston has a history of community engagement that began long before the office by that name was established. Faculty realized early on that many of the courses taught on the Crookston campus were best taught beyond the doors of the classrooms.
In 1996, the office of service learning was established and housed under student activities. In addition to coordinating the service-learning program, this office also coordinated community service projects and America Reads.
In 2011, the name was changed to the Office of Community Engagement to better describe the goals and more accurately define the activities. They work directly with local agencies, organizations, and individuals to address community needs.
The mission of the Office of Community Engagement is to serve as a resource for faculty for the integration of service-learning, support students in their development as engaged citizens and scholars, and foster mutually beneficial campus-community partnerships to address community needs.