I had the privilege to attend a service learning workshop while I was at National 4-H Congress. I thought I knew what service learning was before going into the workshop but I soon came to find I did not. Service learning is not synonymous with community service, volunteerism, youth service, or experimental education; it is more. Service learning is community service that teaches volunteers about themselves and the world around them.
There are eight elements of service learning:
- Voice and planning- Get involved in the process of organizing service learning projects which provides more ownership and learning opportunities.
- Community need and voice- Find out what needs your community has.
- Learning objectives- Understand what you are expected to learn through serving.
- Orientation and training- Know all the aspects of a project including what could go wrong, equipment skills, time and date, etc.
- Meaningful service- Have a successful service experience through planning goals, resources, supervision, transportation, logistics, and risk management.
- Reflection- Reflect back on the experience and see the impact the service project had on both yourself and others.
- Evaluation- Analyze what went well and what didn’t so you know what to do better next time.
- Celebration and recognition- Be proud of the service you have done and celebrate!
Service learning projects are truly rewarding. Service learning comes in different forms for all of us since we live in communities with different needs and our perspectives of serving are different. There are many opportunities to get involved in service learning. Research programs or organizations in your area or develop a new one! I encourage everyone to get involved in service learning and make an impact on society while improving your own self.
Article written by Samantha Sleep
4-H State Youth council
Spearfish High School-Junior