Antsy for Spring? Sharpen Your Tools!

A dull blade is far more dangerous than a sharp one.  Ten years agoTools I slashed my calve with a dull machete and the scar reminds me every spring to make sure my tools are sharp!

If you’re getting antsy for spring, or perhaps you’re already digging in the soil, make sure your tools are sharp, rust free, oiled and working properly to do their job. This will help you avoid getting hurt and make your gardening labor much more efficient and enjoyable.

Here’s an in-depth ‘how-to’ article from Mother Earth News that covers everything from shovels to hoes to knives to pruners.

And here’s a simple visual ‘how-to’ for sharpening hand pruners.

Originally posted on A HELPFUL WORLD:

resume post

What do I do when an organization asks for a resume?

Well, it is easy! You create a really good resume to impress them. From there, they might even fast track you to start the very next day since they will be so impressed.

To apply to be a volunteer with an organization, you first have to choose an attractive template to win the “first impression” contest! If you are artistic and good with computers you can format your own template. I actually find this step to be fun and motivating. However, if you prefer to skip the troubles that come with starting from scratch… There are plenty of templates in Microsoft Word itself or by downloading a template after a quick google search.

After you have a template, you  have to brainstorm what you think you should include in your volunteer resume. Here are some main categories which can…

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Originally posted on Irish Impact Blog:

After taking some time to prepare for finals, Irish Impact is ending the 2013-2014 academic year with the Social Internship Send-off, a week of blog posts intended to benefit anyone preparing for social entrepreneurship, international development, or service work this summer. Today we hear from Claire Bennett andDaniela Papi, a pair who have worked with a small global team to launch Learning Service, producing a book, a video series, and educational tools to fuel conversations about responsible volunteer travel. The full article was published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review a month ago and has generated some serious discussion. We’ll be posting responses to it later this week, so make sure to read up now!

We often use “service learning” to describe volunteer programs and international volunteer travel, emphasizing learning through service—service that teaches life lessons that help both the traveler and the world. The profound lessons…

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Originally posted on Positive Quotes:


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 Group of volunteers hands
By Mark Horoszowski | March 17, 2015
Mark Horoszowski is the co-founder and CEO of, a global platform helping people volunteer their skills around the world whose mission is to support social impact organizations that are solving last-mile challenges and have great potential to create jobs.

(This article previously appeared on

The power of volunteering has been documented for the last 2,500+ years, however a slew of recent research is shedding even more light onto its surprising benefits. Science now proves what great leaders and philosophers have known for years:

“One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.” – Gordon Hinckle

Here are five surprising benefits of volunteering:

1. Volunteering time makes you feel like you have more time. Wharton professor Cassie Mogilner wrote in the Harvard Business Review that her research found those who volunteer their time feel like they have more of it. This is similar to other research showing that people who donate to charity feel wealthier.

Said Mogliner: “The results show that giving your time to others can make you feel more ‘time affluent’ and less time-constrained than wasting your time, spending it on yourself, or even getting a windfall of free time.”

(MORE: Can We Get Some Volunteers?)

2. Volunteering your skills helps you develop new skills. In my experience, skills-based volunteering is an excellent opportunity to develop talents to help you get ahead in your career. In fact, an article in Stanford Social Innovation Review called skills-based volunteering overseas “the next executive training ground.”

At MovingWorlds, we’ve found that skills development in technical and leadership-related areas is the primary reason corporations invest in international skills-based volunteering programs.

(MORE: Volunteering Pays for Job Hunters)

3. Volunteering your body helps you have a healthier body. A Corporation for National & Community Service report noted: “Research demonstrates that volunteering leads to better health… those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.”

The fact that volunteering has been proven to make you healthier is reason enough to engage in pro bono activities. For more information on this, read “Can Volunteering Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease?

4. Volunteering your experience helps build your experience. We consistently see this with highly skilled professionals like investment bankers and business consultants. Also, volunteering in a new industry will give you knowledge to help you switch fields. And if you want to move from the corporate world to the nonprofit sector, volunteering first can help prove your commitment.

Beyond our own research, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Next Avenue have published articles about how volunteering can help you earn your next job.

(MORE: The Peace Corps Wants You, Boomers!)

As the Journal wrote: “According to the survey of 202 human-resource executives, skilled volunteer work — such as helping a nonprofit with its finances — makes job applicants look more appealing to hiring manager.”

Here are some tips to add your volunteering experience to your resumé and LinkedIn profile.

5. Volunteering your love makes you feel more love. Admittedly, love is a hard thing to measure. But when researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness, they found the more people volunteered, the happier they were. Volunteering builds empathy, strengthens social bonds and makes you smile  — all factors that increase the feeling of love.

How to Find Volunteering Opportunities

So how can you get started volunteering? It’s remarkably easy. Post your intentions on Facebook and/or LinkedIn to get connected to an organization in your network. You can also use LinkedIn’s For Good program, Catchafire or VolunteerMatch to find local opportunities and to find international skills-based volunteer projects.

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” - Muhammad Ali

A question we need to ask ourselves is: How do we support our young people so that they not only survive, but also thrive. The Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project has an answer: Give every young person the opportunity to serve the country for a year. The goal is that a year of paid public service would become a “cultural expectation, common opportunity and civic rite of passage for every young American.”

This national shift in priority would give young adults not only the opportunity to address significant national problems, but also develop the qualities that would help improve their own health and well-being.

National service organizations such as AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps have long been cost-effective ways to address national and international problems such as poverty, disparity in education and climate change. But now we are seeing that there is an additional benefit — improving the lives of those who serve. John Bridgeland, co-chairman of the Franklin Project & CEO of Civic Enterprises, told me: “We know that service can solve public problems at low cost. We know that service fosters habits of citizenship that persist. What leading neuroscientists are now telling us is that service and social cooperation are biologically embedded through genetics or socialization — and that when we serve, we are healthier and happier.”

In fact, research suggests that people who are more altruistic are healthier. One study of 585 people examined the independent relation of altruistic attitudes, volunteering and informal helping behavior to well-being. All three independently related to increased life satisfaction and positive mood. Further, a meta-analysis of 17 cohort studies shows that volunteering is associated with lower depression, improved life satisfaction and well-being and that volunteers have lower mortality rates over time.

Why does serving others improve our well-being? There are several possible reasons.

First, serving others gives us a sense of purpose. Positive psychology theorists have suggested that one of the keys to thriving is the ability to find a “meaningful” or “purposeful” life, in which one uses his or her strengths in the service of something “greater” than oneself. Philosophers have long held that we can distinguish between eudemonic experience, or a striving towards meaning and purpose that underlies human beings’ capacity to engage in complex social and cultural behavior, in contrast to the striving for more hedonic or simply pleasurable experience. And neuroscientists are now beginning to demonstrate that these systems operate distinctly on a neurological, genetic and immune level.

In a review of the literature, The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research, the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Office of Research and Policy Development described several studies showing that people who engage in altruistic activities, such as volunteering, develop an increased sense of purpose.
And there is substantial research evidence that leading a purposeful life can improve health and well-being throughout a lifetime.

One research study from the Midlife in United States (MIDUS) data followed more than 6,000 people over the course of 14 years, with more than 500 dying during the course of the study. Those who died were less likely to have a sense of purpose. Another study that followed 900 older adults over seven years found that having a sense of purpose resulted in lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline. Accordingly, research suggests that older people who have a sense of purpose are more likely to engage in preventive health care and less likely to use costly hospital services.

Further, people who make social investments in work, relationships and community may develop personality traits that are associated with long-term health and well-being. For example, studies suggest that people who have social investments develop higher levels of conscientiousness. This conscientiousness appears to be associated with improved health behaviors and well-being, as well as increased longevity.

And those who serve may have a bottom-line benefit: Employers recognize and seek out skills such as conscientiousness. Mary Bruce, co-executive director of AmeriCorps Alums says: “Two in three alums say they learned valuable workplace skills through service. Public, private and nonprofit recruiters tell us time and again that AmeriCorps alumni are just what they’re looking for and what’s hard to find: proven, dedicated, results-oriented leaders … the best of America.”

A recent study by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that promotes volunteerism, examined employment among more than 70,000 jobless people between 2002 and 2012. Results showed that those who volunteered had a 27 percent better chance of finding a job than those who did not volunteer.

Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet says: “By taking employers of national service to scale, we’re able to match great employers with great employees. That means more companies, more nonprofits, more local and state governments and more institutions of higher learning find what they are looking for: people with the grit, skills and spirit to get the job done.

For the Peace Corps, this partnership has been an incredible opportunity to help our returned volunteers secure employment after their service, discover new outlets for their skills and continue serving here at home. Peace Corps volunteers bring their experience, knowledge and ideas back to the U.S., and the ripple effect of their global outlook follows them wherever they go.

The beauty of the Franklin Project’s vision is that we already know that we have more young people wanting to serve than we have opportunities. To be sure, there are many ways for people to thrive. But what is potentially compelling about the Franklin Project’s vision is that it is creating a broader, cultural movement by which service to country is not only an option, but is expected and encouraged. Bringing young people in to serve on a national level would provide a framework as they develop.

Tara Maller, associate director for strategic communications at the Franklin Project of the Aspen Institute, tells me:

Personally, I think that experience of serving gives you a unique perspective that you don’t typically gain in the private sector or through your educational experiences. When you serve — whether in government or in the military or in a national service program like AmeriCorps or Peace Corps — you tend to become more personally invested and connected to the mission and cause at hand, even if other factors may have driven your decision to serve. The experience of serving in and of itself becomes transformative.

So what would this country look like if every young person asks the question: “What will I do during my service year?”

Our service learning and volunteering website for Lewis-Clark State College is and fall under the LC Service Corps department.

Dean of Admissions, Mount Mercy University

What’s the sum of 2 + 2? If you’re taking the SAT or ACT, the answer is 4. Definitely.

But when is the whole greater than the sum of the parts? In the context of service learning, the total is always more than the combination of individual pieces.

Okay, maybe this sounds like gibberish, but here’s the explanation. Service learning is a method of teaching and learning that combines academic experiences with meaningful service elements. Certainly, effective classroom pursuits are critical for success in college. At the same time, “getting out there” through community service can help you experience things you might not learn otherwise. Put these two elements together and things really start to pop. When community service and classroom learning experiences function in tandem, they can produce a synergy that adds a different dimension to your college experience.

“Living with others in a group and reflecting on myself individually, I remembered many of the qualities that bring me happiness and hardship, comfort and insecurity, understanding and inspiration. I learned many of the values that are most important to my being,” says Mount Mercy University student Chris Emery, thinking back on a service learning trip to Appalachia.

New connections emerge in this approach to education. In the “service + learning” equation, the result is often beyond what you would expect from simple arithmetic.

What is service learning?

“The distinctive element of service learning is that it enhances the community through the service provided, but it also has powerful learning consequences for the students or others participating in providing a service,” says the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse.

Brooke Oehme, the Coordinator of Volunteerism and Service Learning at Mount Mercy, describes it as the process of “applying your education in real-world situations. Service learning is where you truly get to learn who you are as a person, and how you can actively live out the beliefs you hold.”

In a service learning model, students are not just vessels to fill with facts and figures. For deep, enduring learning you need to be an active participant in the planning, the doing, and the finding of your voice.

Is service learning the same as volunteering?

Volunteering is important as well, but it’s not quite the same as service learning. One of the major differences between the two is process.

Showing up to serve food in a soup kitchen is a great way to volunteer. True service learning is different because it links community need with a classroom topic. You take theory and put it into practice, and you take the project from concept all the way to completion. Being involved from the very beginning is at the heart of service learning.

For example, you might investigate the topic of soup kitchens—who needs help, where they are located, and what resources you need to make a kitchen work. You could learn from sociologists, social workers, statisticians, and chefs. Then you plan a menu, getting your hands dirty as you get the kitchen up and running. Afterward, you carefully review what you learned so you can take it to the next level and share your findings with others.

These are complex problems in complicated situations; they are not simple textbook exercises. But don’t throw the textbook out just yet! Your knowledge of the textbook, or the cookbook even, prepares you to work in a messy real-life kitchen. The “right answers” aren’t in the back of the book, but service learning takes the classroom to the street, and linking these learning models helps you reach new levels of understanding and experience.

What does the research say?

“Do it!” Researchers in the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA found students who participated in service learning demonstrated greater engagement in the classroom, an increased sense of personal identity, and a heightened awareness of the world around them. The data identified a positive impact on interpersonal skills (working with others, leadership, and communication), spiritual growth, and moral development.

Analysts at Vanderbilt University reviewed service learning research, finding both students and faculty members reported positive learning effects, such as strengthened critical thinking and problem analysis abilities. This is because service learning participation increases how often students discuss their experiences, intensifies how they learn from one another, and amplifies the emotional and analytical support from faculty members.

From social justice to sustainability, service learning has an impact. Learning takes on a new meaning because the experiences are shared—the group is greater than the sum of its parts acting alone. Peer discussions are meaningful and dynamic. The power of reflection, guided by instructors and mentors, connects personal experiences to classroom studies. Service learning is good for the mind as well as the soul.

What do students say?

“Do it!” Emery, expanding on his Appalachia service, says, “I rediscovered insights about myself that I haven’t thought of for many years. I remembered to love myself as I should love others—and love others with all my heart.”

Cathleen Brehm, a Mount Mercy student who participated in a McAllen, Texas, service learning project, says, “I realized that I love helping people in whatever way I can. . . . There is so much you can do!”

Why should I do it?

“Any student engaged in a liberal arts education can benefit from a service learning approach,” Oehme says. “Areas of math, science, government, education, philosophy, ethics, religion, and others all find connection with service learning.”

Serving puts theory into action. You can see—and experience—how different ideas work (or don’t work) in your community and the world. Students also benefit from the cross-disciplinary nature of service.

“Service-oriented organizations often cross the boundaries of specific disciplines, engaging an individual’s business skills, political knowledge, education theory, and ethical philosophy in a single program. The life lessons students gain from service learning also work to enrich the rest of their college experience, giving them an advantage in the classroom as well as in the real world,” Oehme says. Like so many educational opportunities, what you get out of service learning depends on what you put into it.

How can I get involved?

The first step is simply recognizing a need. “Once you’ve identified a need in your school or community, find a way that you can help meet that need,” Oehme says.

And getting involved may be easier than you think. Many colleges and universities offer service learning programs. These programs make it easy to join with friends and classmates. Read the signs on the dining hall wall or campus center bulletin boards. Which ones jump out at you? Visit your school’s student government association, campus ministries office, or volunteer center to learn more.

For example, Mount Mercy University offers service learning and volunteerism through its Campus Ministry department, which coordinates several trips and activities organized by faculty or staff members, and it’s offered at low or no cost to students. If your college doesn’t offer a formalized service learning program, it may be able to partner with a local nonprofit or sponsor educational seminars, food kitchens, or other community programs.

“There is no limit to the ways you can serve the community,” Oehme says. You may work with a handful of friends to offer a community workshop aimed at athletics, theater, art, or science. Maybe you’ll help rebuild a community after a flood, fire, or tornado. “Local service efforts are always happy to receive assistance from students, and well-established organizations can often help develop student programs in your community, even if your college doesn’t have a service learning curriculum.”

If you’re passionate about a cause not yet supported on campus, then this is your chance to make a difference. Rally your classmates, work with your advisor, or talk to a professor about adding a service learning component to a course. See the need, meet the need!

Oehme sums it up, “Students who participate in service learning programs discover their passions, gain perspective on their place in the world around them, and often discover skills and abilities they did not even know they possessed.”

Viewpoint: Why you should take a service-learning course


(By Sarah Bright, DigitalVision)

Service-learning can help you discover your true passion — like working on providing greater access to health care.

Are you the type of student who just doesn’t have time to participate in volunteer community service but wants to find a way to get more involved in the community? Do you feel stuck in a rut — like what you are learning in the classroom isn’t making positive impact in the community?

If so, you should consider enrolling in a service-learning course this upcoming semester. The combination of community service with academics might be the perfect fit for you.

You may be wondering, what’s the point of combining two seemingly unrelated objectives, community service and academics? It’s actually pretty simple. Service-learning courses give you the opportunity to see how your voice and actions can make a difference in the real world.

These courses allow you to see how the subject you are learning can be applied through projects that address real-world concerns. Not only does this help the organization or population you end up working with, but these courses can truly transform the way you think about your world and how you can make a difference in it.

So, what exactly are these projects like anyway?

The types of courses that offer service-learning vary greatly. You might find yourself designing a program that supports at-risk youth in the local community for a psychology course or helping students overcome challenging speech disorders in a communications class.

Most of the time, you have the opportunity to work directly with an organization that has limited resources and relies heavily on outside support. This sets you up to work within the local community, working toward solving real issues that impact our families, friends and neighbors. Here, the hard work and energy you may have dedicated to several 10-page assignments (that will never be read by anyone other than your professor) translates into a useful, practical and valuable experience.

Participating in service-learning can significantly improve your confidence in making career-related decisions.

Designing these projects and carrying them out among a group or with your entire class provides a mini internship experience. Maybe you learned you are really passionate about working with the elderly, or you realize you love with working to improve access to health care.

Service-learning courses can help you decide on (or against) a major or solidify an existing interest in any particular career.

By enrolling in a service-learning course, you will be challenged by the experience of working with your peers to identify solutions that have real applications. This provides a venue for you and your classmates to partake in meaningful conversations. If you are seeking deeper relationships with peers, service-learning is a great way to achieve them.

Not quite convinced?

Ask your peers on campus what their experience has been with community service through service-learning courses. You’ll probably hear rave reviews about how service-learning has made a difference in the lives of your classmates.

If you decide to go for it, remember to keep an open mind and you might just find something meaningful where you least expected it.

Brianne McDonough is currently a second year graduate student in the Higher Education of Student Affairs M. Ed. program at Salem State University. She is currently working as a Graduate Retention Fellow in the First Year Experience Office at Salem State University. She is a 2010 alumna of Bridgewater State University where she earned her B.S. in earth sciences with a concentration in geology. Prior to graduate school she worked as a Resident Director at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH. Brianne is passionate about higher education and hopes to pursue a career in institutional research and public higher education policy.

After searching extensively for service learning material and consistently coming up empty handed, it seems a necessary course of action to provide a basic definition. Lewis-Clark State College and Boise State University are some of Idaho’s service learning leaders in higher education. Here is BSU’s definition:

What is SL?

Service-Learning is…

… a teaching strategy that integrates course content with relevant community service. Through assignments and class discussions, students critically reflect on the service in order to increase their understanding of course content, gain a broader appreciation of the discipline, and enhance their sense of civic responsibility.”
– adapted from the National and Community Service Trust Act

How does it work?

Faculty members collaborate with community partners to provide experiences that enhance student learning while meeting a community need. SL staff often facilitate this connection, share best practices, and provide support before, during, and after the semester.  See specific details for Students, Faculty, and Community Partners.

Why do it?

Service-Learning impacts the community, students, faculty, and beyond.  It is grounded in theory and research.

  • Benefits: Some benefits are immediate, and others are long term, deep, and far ranging
  • Research says: A broad range of studies are chronicling the impact of SL
  • What others are saying: Check out quotes from faculty, students, and community partners.
  • Theoretical Foundations of SL:  From Dewey to Friere, SL is grounded in academic theory
  • Lenses of SL:  People get involved with SL for variety of reasons: technical, cultural, political, or post-modern

National SL links

Originally posted on TIME:

Concerning energy research, the United States is falling behind the pack. Sure, we’re in the middle – quite possibly the latter stages – of an oil and gas renaissance, but the nation’s energy secure future, while paved with hydrocarbons, will increasingly rely on renewables deployment and grid innovation.

According to a new report from the American Energy Innovation Council (AEIC), a committee of six executives including Bill Gates and General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, US funding for energy research development and demonstration (RD&D) is detrimentally modest – stunting current growth and weakening the nation’s competitive advantage. The committee argues that current spending of about $5 billion annually should be tripled immediately. As a percentage of economic output, US funding lags well behind its western counterparts Canada, France, Denmark, and Norway – maybe the shining example of a hydrocarbon-fueled green state – among others.

Green technology innovation is trending east however…

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