Eight Coalitions, Two Classrooms: University of Findlay Students Assist the Local Community by Working with Nonprofits

University of Findlay students have found a way to assist coalitions right from the classroom.  Two classes this semester are leading students to assist coalitions in Hancock County.  A marketing class ran by Dr. Chris Ward assists the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) and all their affiliated coalitions.  An advanced writing course, taught by Dr. Harley Ferris, allows the students to write posts and other copies that coalitions in the community need.  These students have the opportunity to make a difference and see first-hand what their work can go towards, rather than just hearing about it theoretically. 

Dr. Chris Ward, a member of the United Way of Hancock County board, has noted other work that the university has done in previous years, including a Small Business Development Center, Marketing Club, and Extreme Marketing Makeover.  The Small Business Development Center began as a collaboration with Craig Brown in 2007 and has influenced her teaching for the past eleven years.  Dr. Chris Ward stated that helping the nonprofit organizations in the community is “a valuable learning opportunity for the students and provides great experiential learning.”  She added on that “students are smart, professional, and creative, [so], we need to guide them and get out of their way!”  Dr. Chris Ward thinks highly of her students and is proud of all the work they have been doing in the community.  She especially enjoys “seeing the students get immersed in the projects.”   

Makala Haines, a student in Dr. Ward’s marketing class, works with her team to create a Marketing Plan based on the CCE need’s and wants.  Their main goal is to “boost the CCE’s presence in the community through social media, event planning, and media creation.” She serves as a team leader connecting her group to Leigh Esper, the head of the CCE.  Makala said her favorite part about this class is getting to work with a local nonprofit.  She added that her “dream job is working as an executive director for a nonprofit organization,” and that she has “always had a passion for helping people.”  This class has provided Makala with experience to benefit her in her dream career. 

Dr. Harley Ferris, the professor for the writing and communication course, explained that they have assisted community partners with writing “alphabetic texts, multimedia, visual communication, and document design.  Students have had the opportunity to communicate with these partners directly, allowing them to gain experience in professional emails, scheduling, planning, holding meetings, and revising projects after feedback.  He runs the class as though it is a “content writing agency” where students are put into teams to work with specific partners.  Dr. Harley Ferris noted that by investigating email exchanges between students and their partners, he’s “observed improvements in rhetorical awareness, tone, and clarity throughout the semester.”  This course is beneficial to the community partners, as well as the students.  Dr. Harley Ferris said that he’s “learning to never underestimate a UF student,” and that he “couldn’t be prouder of the work they’re doing.”

Olivia Grohoske, who is both a student in Dr. Harley Ferris’s class and an intern for the Center for Civic Engagement, is working closely with the Literacy Coalition of Hancock County.  She said that so far, her group has created a fact sheet, a public service announcement for the radio, and are currently working on a brochure.  She enjoys being able to be creative and freely share her ideas.  She also noted that this opportunity allows coalitions to “highlight what they are doing and make the public more aware.”  Olivia added that being a student in the classroom and working as an intern have allowed her to “work with community partners and make connections.” Both Dr. Chris Ward and Dr. Harley Ferris are extremely proud of the work that their students are doing to help nonprofits in Hancock County.  Students Makala Haines and Olivia Grohoske are also happy with everything that they are accomplishing and learning.