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MEWS Scholarship Helps Educator with Service Learning and Community Engagement Reasearch


International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE)

October 2, 2017
By Judith A. Conway, Extension Educator
University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development (UMECYD)

National University of Galway (NUI Galway)
Galway, Ireland
September 13-September 16, 2017

The annual International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE) conference is a scholarly venue to disseminate new knowledge on service learning and community engagement. The focus of presentations, symposiums, networking, and keynotes is on research incorporating a variety of theoretical, methodologies, and perspectives.

I recently attended the International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement conference held in Galway, Ireland. I am so appreciative for receiving the $500 ESP MEWS professional development scholarship award to attend. This international learning experience has broadened my perspective of the work that I do within the Extension Center for Youth Development, and in a more inclusive sense, the University of Minnesota Extension Center.
I attended many sessions, which shared Professor’s scholarship and research (Hong Kong University, Portland State, Louisiana State, and South Africa U, to name a few). I was involved in many round table discussions that allowed me to share my work within the (UMECYD) and learn from others. A few takeaways included: 1) University Professors have a social commitment to expose students to the world around them through their selected teaching methodology; 2) Mindfulness (preparation and reflection) within youth community learning environments should be given greater priority; 3) Positive 4-H adult/youth partnerships within the context of service-learning continues to be an important factor for success; 4) Growth mindset is needed with young people to expand intercultural engagement.

In Dublin, I was able to visit with local school staff to learn about schools/after school and their community engagement strategies.

The following statements reflect the impact on my Extension work.

  • This experience has allowed me to make connections to University professionals throughout the world who believe in creating an educational environment for youth to be social change agents. I have made an interesting connection with University professors who use service learning as a teaching methodology to mentor young people in after school programs. This connection will allow me to dig deeper into my scholarship in this area of my work.
  • I have exchanged information with colleagues from NUI in Galway as they expand and explore their college student mentorship opportunities. Within the Minnesota 4-H Youth Development environment, we have created many models of Youth Teaching Youth (YTY). This service-learning model is a model I hope to explore with collegiate 4-H alumni as a meaningful part of their academic field of study. 
  • Explore youth college readiness within the Minnesota 4-H Youth Development framework. I attended a round table, which discussed community perspectives of Community-University partnerships (from United States). Community partners shared a concern that 67% cannot find qualified workers and the dropout rate of high school students is growing at an alarming rate. One of the benchmarks to reach our vision within the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development is that 70% of youth in Minnesota 4-H will go to higher education. 
  • I plan to incorporate this experience into my teaching and research by digging deep into the psychology of youth as social change agents. I plan to explore and share how mindfulness, understanding of self, and the ethics of service enter into the complexity of positive youth development programming as youth learn about themselves, learn to lead and navigate the world around them. 

The opportunity to apply for MEWS scholarships offered by Epsilon Sigma Phi is an opportunity afforded by anyone who joins this fraternal organization. I thank the selection committee for granting me this meaningful scholarship to advance my research.

Additional information can be requested from Judith A. Conway,

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