Badger Volunteers sets record for student summer registration

This summer, more UW-Madison students than ever before will head out into the community to support community organizations through the Badger Volunteers program.

Badger Volunteers, a program through the Morgridge Center for Public Service, saw over 160 students register for the 2014 summer session—a 25 percent jump over summer 2013. Those students will partner with over 30 non-profits and community organizations in Madison and Dane County in areas of education, sustainability and public health.

“What we have seen over the last year is that there are more and more students who want to make meaningful connections with the community beyond campus,” said Badger Volunteers Coordinator Steph Harrill. “And so we are constantly growing the Badger Volunteers program to support this level of engagement.”

Badger Volunteers is designed to give students an opportunity to provide consistent and meaningful service in the community. Student volunteers work in teams once a week at the same location throughout the summer. This model allows community partners and students to make meaningful and reciprocal connections, increasing the impact of the work.

Community partners this summer include, among many, the Clean Lakes Alliance of Dane County, the Madison Senior Center, United Way of Dane County, the Madison Metropolitan School District, the City of Madison, the Wisconsin Bike Federation and Madison Area Food Pantry Gardens.

“There’s never a shortage of need for volunteers in the community, especially during the summer,” said Harrill. “So to be able to partner with such a diverse group of community organizations is really important, and it meets a diverse range of student interests.”

Badger Volunteers will engage with the community in a variety of projects including an organic compost collection pilot program, clean water advocacy, community garden maintenance, summer K-12 reading support and older adult enrichment.

The Badger Volunteers program has seen incredible growth in recent years. In 2013-14, over 1,300 students participated in the program, providing nearly 30,000 hours of service. Both were record numbers. Between fall 2013 and spring 2014, the program grew from just over 500 volunteers to 640 volunteers.

“Students hear a lot about the Wisconsin Idea, but don’t always know how to act on it,” said Morgridge Center Faculty Director Nancy Mathews. “Badger Volunteers gives students a very direct pathway to connect with local recipients.”

UW-Madison students who are interested in volunteering this summer but missed the Badger Volunteers registration deadline or could not make the weekly commitments, should visit the Morgridge Center website for more opportunities. Badger Volunteer registration for fall 2014 will open September 2.

Community organizations interested in partnering with Badger Volunteers should contact Megan Miller at