The annual Community Dialogue was held on Tuesday afternoon in Bede Ballroom on the University of Minnesota Crookston campus.
Representatives of several Crookston businesses, as well as several UMC faculty and staff, came together to discuss the ways of helping out college students that are always seeking ways to do engage the community. More importantly, though, they discussed how to help provide internships and service learning projects, both of which carry a specific academic component in the form of actual credits.
"We've got 250 to 300 students a year looking for internships," Lisa Loegering explained. "What a wonderful opportunity for them if they'd come to Crookston, they've made connections, they've experienced some really wonderful things, perhaps done some service learning projects."
Loegering, who directs UMC's Community Engagement Department, stressed the importance of making sure the students are doing what is needed in the community. "We want it to be both a service project and a learning project, and so it's got to be mutually beneficial to both. The critical thing about service learning is that it's a community identified need," she said. "We'll make sure we're both on the same page; is there something that can be of assistance?"
Chancellor Fred Wood even chimed in on UMC students' involvement in the community, saying it's not just about learning. "We have that entire goal of not just learning the content, not just having an education that they need, but also that sense of return, sense of leadership, that sense of engagement," he said.
But the recurring theme of the dialogue was not just about students getting involved in their community but keeping them here. "The overwhelming majority go off somewhere else and we think that's a real opportunity missed," explained Jack Geller, department head and a professor in the Communication Department, about where students intern. "In Crookston, we have this really unique opportunity because we have a whole pool of really young, bright college people right here in our community."
At the end of the day, it seemed that whatever the Crookston community does for the UMC community it will be helpful for the students' education. Said Wood, "Those in the community that can help offer those opportunities are a very important part of their education."
Check out the video and photo gallery from the dialogue.