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Mount Marty Named to 2013 Presidents Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll


Published Date3\11\2013
Mount Marty College was named to the 2013 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in the institution's first attempt at the title. This designation is the highest honor a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement.

"Service is central to our Benedictine heritage and part of culture at Mount Marty College." said Dr. Joseph Benoit, President of Mount Marty College. "We are honored to be recognized as a leader among U.S. colleges and take great pride in knowing that civic engagement through service is an integral component of the lives our students, faculty and staff."

Mount Marty was honored specifically for a Lakota Service and Cultural Experience done by the Mount Marty College nursing department, the college's Freshman Experience program, and campus ministry service trips. The community service hours that were reported in the application were for students, faculty and staff for 2011-2012 and estimated at nearly 12,000 hours.

The Lakota Service and Cultural Experience course is scheduled around a 4 day immersion on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation. Although the course is part of the nursing curriculum, it is open to all students. On average, 10-12 students and 2 faculty members are involved each year. The key service that is provided includes one, 8 hour day of foot care for people on the reservation. During the 2011-2012 service trip, approximately 50 Lakota received service. Furthermore, the students reach out to those homebound to provide foot care services. Assistance is not limited to health services. Students also take part in a day of labor which can include building porches or stairs, hanging drywall or painting. Students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of cultural experiences as well. Last year, the group participated in an Inipi (sweat lodge), were invited to a Round Dance, and had the opportunity to eat a "traditional" Lakota meal prepared by a Lakota elder.

In alignment with the mission of Mount Marty College, Freshman Advising was set out to introduce values of community and service to the greater community through a group service project each fall semester. All first-time, full-time freshman enroll in a freshman experience .Each group of 10-12 students is led by a dedicated faculty member who introduces the core values of the mission through advising, instruction and a guided service project. The intention of this service activity is to meet a community need within Yankton and the immediate surrounding areas while reinforcing the values of community and personal growth. Last fall, the local food bank reported record numbers of community members in need of food and household supplies. In response to this need, 4 separate seminar groups collected over 400 pounds of non-perishable food items.

The campus ministry program at Mount Marty College develops opportunities for spring break service trips which allow students to immerse themselves in other cultures, to become aware of social needs of the community they are assisting, and to reflect on their own social responsibility in these situations. Students raise money to cover the costs of these trips through various fundraising events and sponsorships. Campus ministry has been offering an alternative spring break service trip since 2004. Students have worked with the poor in Mississippi in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011. Additional trips have included Hurricane Katrina Relief, work with Habitat for Humanity in Texas, and flood relief in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (twice in 2009). In March of 2012, three students, two staff members and one student intern traveled to Joplin, Missouri and experienced the damage and destruction still evident after the May 22, 2011 tornado which devastated areas of Joplin. They focused their efforts on clean up and repairs to personal property damaged by the tornado. The group completed over 36 hours of service that included painting, planting trees, digging ditches and trash pickup. One particular project included removing insulation that had been plastered to a building during the tornado. Homeowners included widows and elderly couples who did not otherwise have the resources to complete the work.

"Congratulations to Mount Marty College, its faculty and students for its commitment to service, both in and out of the classroom," said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). "Through its work, institutions of higher education are helping improve their local communities and create a new generation of leaders by challenging students to go beyond the traditional college experience and solve local challenges."

Inspired by the thousands of college students who traveled across the country to support relief efforts along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, CNCS has administered the award since 2006 and manages the program in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the American Council on Education and Campus Compact

More information about the Mount Marty College community service efforts can be found at www.mtmc.edu/student/ministry/service.aspx. More information on eligibility and the full list of Honor Roll awardees can be found at nationalservice.gov.