New fellowship awarded to four UW-Madison student hometown projects

The Wisconsin Open Education Community Fellowship (WOECF) has announced funding for four UW-Madison student projects this summer, spanning each corner of the state.

The WOECF, in its inaugural year, challenged undergraduate students at UW-Madison to create projects that could solve an issue identified in their Wisconsin hometown. Additionally, the projects had to be designed around the content provided in one of three free Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) offered by UW-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies this year.

Projects ranging from Shakespeare to Aldo Leopold will be hosted in Cross Plains, Green Bay, Hudson and Kenosha in summer 2015.

“I am thrilled about the quality of the WOECF proposals in this first year and was inspired to see how deeply our undergraduate students are already thinking about engagement with communities and organizations around the state,” said Lika Balenovich, communication coordinator for Educational Innovation and MOOCs. “Not only that, but I think our WOECF fellows have a really keen sense of how they themselves can learn from the communities and how they plan to connect that learning back to their experience here on campus.”

Each undergraduate fellow will receive a $3,000 stipend and up to $1,000 for project expenses. Throughout the duration of the project, each fellow will work with a UW-Madison faculty mentor and a community partner organization

Community partners will also receive $1,000 for participating in the fellowship, with mentors receiving $1,000 as well. The WOECF is a collaboration of the Division of Continuing Studies, Educational Innovation, and the Morgridge Center for Public Service at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“This is the type of program I wish had been available for me as an undergraduate,” said Dave Lassen, WOECF Graduate Project Assistant. “It reminds us that one of the major purposes of a university experience is to mold and equip better citizens. In many ways, programs like the WOECF embody the highest ideals of a university.”

Kristen Bednar, Cross Plains

Junior Kristen Bednar will work with The Life Foundation in Cross Plains, Wis., to develop the Cross Plains Parkway Market. The market will provide multiple economic and social functions for the community, creating a much-needed space for area farmers and artisans to directly sell their produce and work. Bednar, a Community and Environmental Sociology major, has already begun creating relationships with local government organizations and will spend much of the summer of 2015 directly recruiting small business owners, musicians, nonprofit organizations, and other Cross Plains residents to create an enduring place for community development. Bednar’s goal is to establish a lasting market for future years. The project will be advised by Leann Tigges, Professor in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology.

Sarah Krier, Hudson

Sophomore Sarah Krier will be working with the YMCA in Hudson, Wis., to update and enhance the practical conservation instruction offered at the YMCA’s Day Camp Daycroix. In addition to helping administer these programs during summer 2015, Krier, a Life Sciences Communication major, will play a key role in introducing new content to these programs in order to help campers better understand and appreciate the work of Aldo Leopold. A Sand County Almanac, Leopold’s most famous work, will be a central part of the curriculum Krier develops, especially for the older campers as they learn more about the environment and how they can share their newfound knowledge with others. The project will be advised by Associate Professor of Life Sciences Communication Bret Shaw.

Laura Schmitt, Green Bay

Freshman English major Laura Schmitt will center on fostering an appreciation for literature and original creative writing among middle and high school students in the Green Bay area. Working with Mosaic Arts, Inc., Schmitt will encourage students to write prose, poetry, or essays on a variety of topics as they relate to the work of William Shakespeare. Students will be encouraged to write in whatever form is most meaningful for them, including self-reflection. Schmitt will collaborate throughout the summer with a variety of media outlets to promote participants’ work. Mosaic Arts, Inc. has also already agreed to continue this project beyond summer 2015. The project will be advised by Division of Continuing Studies Faculty Associate Kevin Mullen.

Andrew Strother, Kenosha

Freshman Andrew Strother has designed a project to build on his work as a member of the Kenosha County Green Ribbon Committee, organized to design a newly acquired park to be a sustainable space where local residents can enjoy and learn about their natural environment. Strother, a Political Science major, will design an outreach campaign to encourage families, schools, churches and other youth groups to take advantage of the new park. A central element of this campaign will be a series of workshops that Strother will create and run to provide Kenosha County residents of all ages the opportunity to have a hands-on experience learning about nature by enjoying the park. Activities will include a fishing clinic, lessons on responsible outdoor recreation and a DNR workshop on how to sustain local wildlife populations. The project will be advised by Lt. Col. Gregory Goar, Commandeer, Air Force ROTC Detachment 925, University of Wisconsin-madison.

WOECF is supported by and embodies the mission of the campus-wide Educational Innovation (EI) initiative, UW-Madison’s strategic effort to enrich teaching and learning and inspire students.