University of Nebraska students have begun working in communities across the state through a new summer serviceship program created in the wake of this year’s devastating flooding.
Serviceship projects range from documenting damage to roads and bridges to organizing a thank-you event for volunteers who cleaned up local fairgrounds, from developing multi-lingual disaster recovery materials to assisting with landscape design and GPS mapping,
Twenty-four Nebraska students — representing UNL, UNK, and UNO — are beginning serviceships in 14 communities, with more students being placed on an ongoing basis as the university matches students’ skills with local needs.
“Our commitment to Nebraskans from the beginning has been that the University of Nebraska will be a partner for as long as it takes for our state to rebuild,” Chuck Hibberd, dean and director of Nebraska Extension, said. “Our students have a wealth of knowledge and an eagerness to serve. The flood serviceship program is a perfect opportunity for them to gain real-world experience in meeting the needs of our communities.”
One serviceship project is being undertaken by Alyssa Spartz, an emergency management major at UNO, who is helping to organize an event celebrating volunteers who helped rebuild the Washington County Fairgrounds in Arlington.
The Arlington and Washington County community was among the hardest hit by flooding, but in spite of the damage, thanks to volunteer efforts, the Washington County Fair is set to take place July 26-31.
“I signed up for the serviceship for the opportunity to give back to my community members who were impacted by this tragic disaster,” Spartz said. “Unfortunately, individuals across the county may not realize the major impacts the flooding caused and the amount of time, resources and effort it will take to recover.”
Spartz says she is excited to lend a hand in recovery efforts, and for the chance to apply the knowledge she has learned at UNO through this real-world experience.
“As a Nebraska native, I want to reassure my community members that they have not been forgotten and that there are individuals like myself who are here to support them as they recover throughout the entire process,” she said.
Based on a model developed by NU’s Rural Futures Institute, the flood recovery serviceship program will place a maximum of 50 NU students in communities across the state to work with local leaders on recovery efforts.
The university is continuing to accept applications; all undergraduate, graduate and professional students from all NU campuses, including the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, are invited to apply.
Community leaders with ideas for serviceship projects are also encouraged to continue to apply to serve as hosts for students.
Serviceships run a maximum of 10 weeks each, up to 40 hours per week, based on a student’s schedule and a community’s needs. Students are paid $12.50 per hour and may be able to earn college credit for their work.
Students engaged in the program thus far represent a wide range of disciplines, including agriculture, teaching, business administration, engineering, communications and more.
“We’re proud of our students for stepping up, and we’re excited to have projects underway that will help Nebraska on the long road to recovery,” Hibberd said.
The flood serviceship program is funded by a $250,000 investment from the University of Nebraska.