For UL System Students, Giving Back is its Own Lesson

BATON ROUGE, La. – From New Orleans to Shreveport and throughout the state, students from the University of Louisiana System are combining education with service and discovering the joy of giving back.

In the past two years, students have logged almost 100,000 service hours addressing some of Louisiana’s biggest challenges in hurricane recovery, education, health care and the environment.

Through Learn and Serve grants awarded by the UL System, students at the eight ULS universities have helped construct homes, redesigned landscapes, removed marine debris, and designed renovation plans of abandoned homes for use as temporary shelters. They have provided disaster preparation training and senior citizen education, helped establish an early childhood and family learning center in New Orleans, and assessed well water quality. They have also collected meteorological data for the National Weather Service and the Hurricane Protection Center, among other projects. (See complete list below.)

The grants are made possible through a three-year, $1.2 million grant to the UL System from the Learn and Serve America division of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

The UL system awarded more than $450,000 in January to 22 projects and $606,918 to 29 projects in 2006. The system will award the third and final round of grants next Friday. Total service awards, combined with a required one-to-one campus match, will have yielded a total investment in service-learning of about $2.5 million.

“The power of education is in its value to society, and through this program and other service initiatives on our campuses, our students are preparing for citizenship. They learn that contributing their talents to the community is the ultimate gift and the best way to give back to the communities that have helped make their education possible,” UL System President Randy Moffett said.

Moffett, a long-time college administrator and former president of Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, is former Vice Chair of Louisiana Campus Compact, a coalition of state college and university presidents committed to the civic purposes of higher education.

Service-learning provides numerous benefits to the student. According to UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute, student participation in service has positive impacts on leadership ability, grades, retention, degree aspirations, critical thinking skills and commitment to helping others in difficulty.

The following are brief summaries of 2008 funded projects by campus:


A Collaborative Commitment: Grambling State University, Southern University-Shreveport, and Habitat for Humanity Rebuilding Louisiana through Service-Learning: Partnering GSU and SU Shreveport students with Habitat for Humanity and the American Red Cross to build housing for victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and to receive disaster training.

Enhancing the Quality of Life for Senior Citizens in a Rural Community after the Trauma of Katrina/Rita: Partnering GSU Social Work students with the City of Grambling, and the AARP to provide continuing education and support seminars for senior citizens.


Integrating Community Resources for Disaster Preparedness in Lincoln Parish: Partnering Louisiana Tech nursing faculty and students with the Ruston Fire Department, Ruston Police Department and the Lincoln Parish Incident Command to provide disaster preparation training for potential nurses and EMS personnel.

Mapping the Future Landscape for Two Southwestern Louisiana Parishes: Partnering Louisiana Tech and McNeese State University students with the cities of Vinton and Cameron to design landscapes with more open spaces that are adapted to weather natural disasters, especially hurricanes.

Utilizing Abandoned Homes to Assist Families Devastated by Disasters: A Unique Response and Recovery Model: Partnering Louisiana Tech architecture and interior design students with the Shreveport Bossier Community Renewal, the AIA of Shreveport and Monroe, Habitat for Humanity, and IDEC to design renovation plans of abandoned homes that could be used as temporary shelters for displaced families.

MCNEESE STATE UNIVERSITY – 3 Projects: $55,478

Assessment of Rural Well Water Quality in Southwest Louisiana in the Post-Rita Era: Partnering McNeese students with the Calcasieu Parish Health Unit and the Lake Charles Division of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality to assess well water quality in Southwest Louisiana that may have become contaminated from the 2005 hurricanes.

Children in Balance Service-Learning Project: Partnering McNeese dietetic students with Fairview Elementary School to teach elementary students how to select healthy food and how to participate in fun physical activities.

Technology Training For Hurricane Preparedness: Partnering McNeese students with local public libraries and non-profit agencies to provide technology training to the public – specifically focused on how to search for and post information in the event of an evacuation.


Little Zion/St. Luke’s Baptist Church Service Learning Project: Partnering Nicholls students with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Architectural Department and the Lafourche Heritage Society for the historical preservation and physical restoration of an abandoned African-American church that is part of a former plantation system in rural Chackbay.

Marine Debris Removal at Grand Isle State Park: Partnering Nicholls students with The Nature Conservancy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, AmeriCorps, Grand Isle State Park and the Grand Isle community to remove litter and marine debris along beach and dune areas and teach the ecological impacts of trash on Louisiana’s barrier islands.


Combating Truancy: A Prevention and Remediation Focus for the New Orleans Recovery School District: Partnering Northwestern counseling students with the New Orleans Recovery School District, the Seton Resource Center of New Orleans, and the Alexandria branch of the LSU Ag Center to provide school counselors in the New Orleans Recovery School District with the resources and materials to help parents and students understand the importance of school attendance.

Heritage Education Activity at Badin-Roque Historic Site: Partnering Northwestern Heritage Resources students with the Creole Heritage Center, St. Augustine Historical Society, the Society for Heritage Resources, and Natchitoches Parish elementary schools to design and implement multiple community-based heritage education activities for elementary school students.


Everybody’s Child: Teacher Preparedness in Times of Crisis & Recovery: Partnering Southeastern education students with Hofstra University in New York, Livingston and St. Bernard Parish School Systems and Kate Middleton Elementary School in Jefferson Parish to train teachers to help students during catastrophic events.

“We Shall Overcome”: Narrating the Challenges of the Early Civil Rights Movement in Southeastern Louisiana: Partnering Southeastern students with the Tangipahoa Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to capture oral histories of Civil Rights movement participants


After the storm: A Community Food System Assessment of Five South Central Louisiana Parishes: Partnering UL Lafayette students with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana to assess and provide recommendations to mitigate hunger with healthy and nutritious options for the needy.

Conducting Home Energy Conservation Audits in Hurricane Recovery Areas: Partnering UL Lafayette students with local middle and high school teachers, the Acadian Home builders Association, Doug Ashy Building materials Inc., and South Louisiana Energy Company to conduct testing and community education of home energy conservation and energy reduction for Louisiana home owners.

Families, Children and Community: Understanding and Replicating the Mahalia Jackson Center Early Childhood and Family Learning Center: Partnering UL Lafayette’s Center for Child Development and the Applied Language and Speech Sciences Doctoral Program with the Orleans Parish School Board, the Recovery School District, the Louisiana Public Health Institute, the Agenda for Children, and Head Start to support existing efforts to establish an early childhood and family learning center at the Mahalia Jackson Center in New Orleans’ Central City neighborhood.

X-treme Spring Break 2008: Students Rebuilding Louisiana: Partnering UL Lafayette students with students from the other seven University of Louisiana System institutions, Lafayette’s Habitat for Humanity Chapter and The American Red Cross to trade their spring breaks to build homes and participate in workshops centered around public heath and safety, as well as emergency preparedness and response.


C.A.S.T. – CPR at School Training Program: Partnering ULM faculty and students with Glenwood Regional Medical Center and St. Francis Medical Center, the American Heart Association, and area schools to teach middle and high school students how to perform basic CPR.

Economic and Cultural Development as a Function of a Research and Development Corridor on Louisiana’s Northern Frontier: Partnering ULM social sciences research faculty and students with Grambling State University, Louisiana Tech University, and area businesses to research and produce a documentary on the economic and cultural impacts of research and development using Ruston, Austin, and Fort Collins, Colorado, as models.

Environmental Podcasting: Partnering ULM College of Education students with Region VIII Instructional Technology Coordinators, local meteorologists and the Black Bayou Wildlife Refuge to create podcasts that address hurricane preparedness and environmental issues that would be available for Louisiana teachers to enhance classroom instruction.

Louisiana Lower Atmosphere Research Collaborative: Service-Learning: Partnering ULM Geosciences faculty and students with three schools in Plaquemines, LaSalle and southern Ouachita Parishes to empower K-12 students to collect information and establish a database of the lower atmosphere that would be shared with the National Weather Service and the Hurricane Prediction Center.