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Wilson College Students Work to Improve Local Community

Posted: December 3, 2010

12/3/2010 Wilson College students are making a difference in the community by identifying and helping solve problems that relate to both the surrounding community and the environment.
DATE: Dec. 3, 2010
CONTACT: Cathy Mentzer, Manager of Media Relations
Phone: 717-264-4141, Ext. 3178

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. – Wilson College students are making a difference in the community by identifying and helping solve problems that relate to both the surrounding community and the environment.

Students in Dr. Edward Wells’ Environmental Sociology class are engaged in what is called “problem-based, service learning” projects, which this semester include a community health fair for underprivileged children in Chambersburg, a food drive for a local food pantry, an information campaign to help address a growing bedbug problem and helping Mexican immigrant children who speak a unique dialect that is neither Spanish nor English.

“The class investigates the relationships between environmental and social problems, Wells said. “What I want to get them to do, besides studying a textbook, is see how this plays out in the community.”

Students are working with community partners to solve problems faced by those organizations and the people they serve, according to Wells, who is chair of the Department of Environmental Studies.

Sophomore psychology major Heather Jordan-Clapsaddle and freshman Lesley Eichelberger worked with Chambersburg’s Elm Street revitalization program on a health fair geared toward poor children, including those in the Hispanic community. The health fair, which will include providing parents with fingerprints of their children, was held Saturday, Nov. 6.

“It’s a great feeling,” said Jordan-Clapsaddle, who with Eichelberger spent several hours a week since the start of the semester organizing the health fair. The two chose their project – which involved educating families and children about fire safety and other issues affecting kids’ health, such as how the presence of cockroaches in a child’s environment can trigger asthma – after meeting with Elm Street manager Jack Jones.

“I knew I wanted to get out on the street and get involved with lots of different types of people,” Eichelberger said. “I am very interested in the Spanish population of Chambersburg. This is a great opportunity for me to work with some of the (Hispanic) business owners, meet some of the people and try to help.”

Another student, sophomore sociology major Dana Hill, conducted a food drive to benefit the Chambersburg Food Pantry.

“A problem that (the food pantry coordinators) face is access to food,” Hill said. “This will assist with hunger and food insecurity within the community, and help families with food this Thanksgiving.”

Students Stacy Grenke and Mary Beth Wert organized a neighborhood meeting recently in Chambersburg to talk about the bedbug problem that has emerged here and elsewhere.

Two of other students, Alicia Mills and Tina Brown, are working with the Chambersburg Shade Tree Commission and borough council member Tom Newcomer to create an arboretum along the rail trail that runs through the downtown area. They have been mapping and identifying trees.

“It’s amazing to see how much you can accomplish when you go out in the community and talk to people and are persistent,” said Brown. “To pull something like that off is pretty amazing. I’ve gained a lot of confidence.”

Another student, environmental studies major Judy Scriptunas, is trying to help a group of Mexican children who come from an isolated town where residents speak a unique dialect. They are having difficulty in their public school classes because Spanish interpreters don’t speak their dialect, according to Wells.

Another student, Sheryl Snider, is helping Elm Street Program officials track progress with the enforcement of codes aimed at keeping properties looking nice.

“It doesn’t matter how much time you have, even a little bit can help,” Snider said.

Students in the class will present final reports on their projects next week.

Wilson is an independent college with a proud history of educating women since 1869 through rigorous study of the liberal arts and sciences. Today, Wilson’s mission also includes women and men enrolled in adult degree and graduate programs. Guided by its Honor Principle and distinguished by a commitment to transformative student growth, Wilson College prepares all of its graduates for fulfilling lives and professions, ethical leadership and humane stewardship of our communities and our world.

Wilson, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 fields, teacher certification for college graduates and a master’s degree in education. This year, Wilson enrolled nearly 800 students from 21 states and 13 foreign countries.

Last Updated: June 30, 2011