Corporation for National and Community Service honors MSU

Contact: Allison Matthews

Mississippi State is being included for the third consecutive year on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for engaging students, faculty and staff in meaningful community service.

Administered by the federal Corporation for National and Community Service, the recognition includes higher education institutions that provide significant support for volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement activities.

CNCS was created by Congress in 1993 to connect Americans of all ages and backgrounds with opportunities to give back to their communities and their nation. The Washington, D.C.-based agency merged the work and staffs of two predecessor organizations, ACTION and the Commission on National and Community Service.

MSU is among five of the state's senior colleges to be included on the recently announced 2010 honor roll. More than 640 nationwide were recognized for their positive impact last year on issues from literacy and neighborhood revitalization to supporting at-risk youth.

Cade Smith, MSU assistant dean of students, is responsible for student leadership and community engagement.

He said service is part of the land-grant institution's core mission. When students take part in service projects that help others, they are also helping themselves, he observed.

"It helps them to become better citizens, but also they are practicing skills that will help them as they pursue a career," Smith said. "Service involves critical thinking, problem solving and cooperation, all of which help them to be successful in the professional realm."

Activities and service initiatives that qualified MSU for the honor included, among others:

--Research conducted by the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, Forest and Wildlife Research Center and the College of Veterinary Medicine, which provide an integrated laboratory with 250 faculty and scientists at 23 locations. Knowledge and technologies derived from the research then are transferred directly to communities by the extension service to address geographically specific needs throughout the state.

--Student efforts coordinated by the Maroon Volunteer Center, which is guided by a team of students, staff, faculty, community members, and AmeriCorps VISTA. The center encourages extracurricular volunteer service and academic service-learning instruction.

--Mississippi in Motion, a research-based, peer-reviewed curriculum that promotes healthy eating and physical activity at the community level.

--Day One Leadership Community, a service-based student organization that focuses on practices of good citizenship while providing two hours of academic credit during the first semester of the freshman year.

--Service DAWGS, a group of faculty, staff and student volunteers who meet needs for more than 15 community partners.

--Early Childhood Institute, which promotes school readiness skills for kindergarten children and improves childcare learning by coaching individual practitioners. During FY 2010, the ECI served 245 child-care facilities and nearly 21,000 children.

--LeaderSTATE Development Camp, a residential summer camp for high school students that includes team building, college orientation, self assessments, structured reflections, research, and student presentations.

--Summer Engineering Academies and Learning Programs, conducted by the Bagley College of Engineering to immerse traditionally marginalized elementary and secondary students in the experiences of residential college. Participants explore the fields of engineering while expanding their appreciation for learning and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

In recognizing this year's winners, Patrick A. Corvington, chief executive officer of CNCS, said that more college graduates are going into the world with a commitment to public service. They have the knowledge that they can make a difference in their own communities and their own lives through service to others, he added.

"We salute all the Honor Roll awardees for embracing their civic mission and providing opportunities for their students to tackle tough national challenges through service," Corvington said.

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