Page 7 - The ALEC Gazette-2018
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 Thomas became familiar with Thrive through his work with The Cross Ministry.
Being the flagship university of the Volunteer state, the University of Tennessee lives up to its name with its history rooted in servant
leadership. Students perpetuate the volunteer spirit of the university, with its beginnings distributing research and information through services created by the 1914 Smith-Lever Act and continued traditions of service. Students also have the chance to take classes and learn more about their personal leadership style through the Servant Leadership course.
Carrie Stephens, who developed this class five years ago and continues to teach it every spring semester, believes becoming involved and serving the community results in an outcome of personal growth for students.
“From an instructor perspective, what I want them to come out of this class with is a better understanding of themselves,” Stephens explained.
Students in this course volunteer at least 60 hours of their time throughout the semester at various locations in the Knoxville and the East Tennessee area. Along with volunteer work,
students must also keep a reflection journal and collect artifacts to help them better understand their selected volunteer location and how it ties into current agricultural issues.
“You could study it but until you do it, you won’t necessarily know how to enact what you learn,” said John Thomas, a plant science graduate student who completed his service project at the community gardens at YMCA and Thrive Gardens.
Thomas has enjoyed working with other volunteers while using his appreciation for plant sciences to help grow food to be distributed to the community.
By volunteering at places such as the YMCA and Thrive Gardens, students not only learn more about their community but also discuss in class how agricultural issues, such as food security and safety, can have an impact so close to home.
Along with learning more about agricultural issues by obtaining hands-on experience with the servant leadership course, students take
away lessons to be used in school and in careers. Kallie Hopper, a past student of the servant leadership course, used what she learned in
her career as an Extension agent. Hopper said being able to show that she cared helped grow programs and gain participants.
“If you can show people that you care about them being involved, it makes them care about being involved,” Hopper explained.
Another former servant leadership student, Sarah Farmer, said knowing what she wants
to do in the future is a big takeaway from the course. Farmer, who accepted a position as an intern for the nonprofit Heifer International, also credits Stephens with helping her find what she loves and direction for her career path.
“My goal is that whenever I have a job after I graduate is that I can lay my head down at night and know that I did the best I could that day,” Farmer said. “And so that’s the thing you have to take away from this class- being the best person you can be in order to make everybody else the best person they can be.” p
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