Meet the student who took Badger Volunteers to the extreme this summer

Evan Heiderscheit had a busy summer. The UW-Madison junior was immersed in studying for the rigorous medical school admissions exams on top of holding down a job. But he also found the time to join not just one Badger Volunteer team, but an unprecedented four teams.

“They just all really interested me, and I felt like it’d be a good way to spend my summer,” explained Heiderscheit, a biochemistry major. He had heard about the Badger Volunteers program through friends who enjoyed it during the school year, but Evan had never participated before. Despite that, he felt he had enough time to commit to four work sites.

Students sign up at the beginning of the semester (or summer) for Badger Volunteers, selecting a community partner to commit to volunteering with once every week. Because of that commitment, it’s rare that a student in the program finds the time for more than one site in the same semester.

Heiderscheit helped sort and distribute clothing donations with Community Action Coalition, worked with kids in Summer Science Expeditions at the Discovery Building and gardened both with the Center for Resilient Cities as well as the Blackhawk Church Food Pantry Garden.

He said the positive impact of each of the organizations on their communities was clear and made volunteering a “mutually beneficial” experience for everyone involved.

“Some of my favorite moments were working with the kids at the Discovery Building and seeing them interested in and excited about science…even when they knew more than you did,” he laughed.

Heiderscheit missed just two work sessions in total (the maximum number of absences allowed at just one work site). He also emphasized that transportation to the sites, provided at no cost to volunteers through partnerships with Union Cab and Community Car, facilitated the volunteering very well and was key to balancing Badger Volunteers with his other commitments.

Although he will have to reduce his commitment to one volunteer site this fall, Heiderscheit says he would like to continue volunteering.

“It is beneficial to see how these different organizations I volunteered at help their communities,” said Heiderscheit.

“Going in, I didn’t know anything about the clothing center at the [Community Action Coalition] or food pantry garden, and after working there I see how big a benefit it is to the community and also the communities that are built around them.”