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Zischke Selected for Service-Learning Fellow Program

Purdue’s Office of Engagement has selected seven Purdue instructors for its fall 2021 Service-Learning Fellows Program, including Forestry and Natural Resources clinical assistant professor Mitch Zischke.

The Service-Learning Fellows Program fosters the development and institutionalization of service-learning courses and curricula, projects and scholarly pursuits at Purdue and also strengthens collaborative efforts and outcomes in communities.

Throughout the fall semester, the fellows, in conjunction with service-learning staff and community partners, will explore where service-learning fits into the ever-changing reality of the COVID-19 pandemic and systemic racial injustice. Together, participants will collaboratively develop the skills and tools needed to deliver effective, mutually beneficial service-learning courses. Each partnership receives up to $3,000 to fund its project.

Zischke attended a workshop on service-learning in 2019 and became interested in developing a service learning course in FNR, due to the practical nature of the field.

“I’m really hoping that the fellowship will give me the time and support I need to develop a new service-learning course in FNR,” Zischke said. “In particular, I’m looking for tips on how best to integrate service learning into student learning, how to promote positive engagement between students and community partners, and how to help students gain skills in project management and engagement. I’m also looking forward to connecting with other instructors who are interested in service learning.”

As part of the Service-Learning Fellows Program, instructors will collaboratively develop a plan for a course and project implementation with a community partner and the service-learning director. In applying for the program, Zischke and others had to describe their potential course and why they wanted to participate in the program as well as an explanation of how the course content links to service activity.

“My plan for the fellowship is to formalize some of the things that I do with Purdue American Fisheries Society (AFS),” Zischke explained. “In the past, Purdue AFS has gone out and assessed ponds for people and developed a fish data report and recommendations for future management.

"My goal for the service-learning course is to teach students the basics of pond and lake management, work with community partners to identify their needs and goals, and get student groups to sample ponds and produce comprehensive reports for the community partners.”

Zischke says potential partners could include private pond owners, homeowners’ associations, local municipalities and maybe even the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. One example of a potential project would be a partnership with the City of Lafayette, which is currently renovating the pond in Columbian Park, and is interested in working with students to develop a management plan and conduct ongoing fish population monitoring and assessment.

Joining Zischke in the 2021 Service-Learning Fellows Program are:

  • Lindsay Hamm, lecturer, Department of Sociology, Purdue West Lafayette
  • Huai-Rhin Kim, lecturer, School of Languages and Cultures, Purdue West Lafayette
  • Amlan Mitra, professor of business economics, Department of Political Science, Economics and World Languages, Purdue Northwest
  • Eric Palmer, clinical assistant professor, School of Nursing, Purdue West Lafayette
  • Rachel Rogers, postdoctoral fellow, Department of Pharmacy Practice, Purdue West Lafayette
  • Pamela Saylor, clinical assistant professor and Social Work Program director, Department of Behavioral Sciences, Purdue Northwest

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