Turning Ideas into Action
The Reach Out Iowa network is a group of youth and adults across the state that are helping and strengthening their communities through service learning. Support, training and funding is available for your youth group, even if you are not a 4-H club. You can get started today! Just contact the Reach Out Iowa Coordinator to request an orientation to service learning.
What is service learning?
Holding a canned food drive is community service.
Studying and researching the impact of good nutrition on health is learning.
When youth analyze the nutritional content of local food bank supplies and create a system for incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables into the donation supply chain, then present their results to community and city leaders, that is service learning.
Service Learning Makes a Difference! A growing body of research recognizes the benefits of service learning as an effective strategy that builds civic skills, improves social behavior, increases youth engagement, strengthens communities and improves academic achievement.
How is service learning different from community service? While community service provides tremendous value to the community, it is typically a “one and done” experience. Service learning takes this service to the next level through increasing the engagement, learning and reflection of youth. The research and problem solving done through service learning can literally change a community!
Five Core Components of Service Learning
- Investigation - Young people research their community problems of interest. They may conduct a needs assessment or other type of assessment. Once they choose a need, young people conduct some form of research to document the extent and nature of the problem.
- Preparation - Young people work with adults and community partners to plan how they will meet the community need. May include developing a common vision, timelines for success, budget, etc.
- Action - The service portion of service learning.
- Reflection - Young people engage in some form of activity that allows them to think about the community need and how their actions impacted the community and made a difference. Also might involve understanding how they could improve their action plan for future projects.
- Demonstration & Celebration - Young people present their project to others, preferably in a public setting with those that have influence. Would include what they have learned, impact of their work and recommendations for future.