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Featured Sites and Members


We will be featuring outstanding stories or resources submitted and developed by members in this section.  It will provide other members the opportunity to learn what is going on at other sites but also read about some promising practices and get ideas for their own work. If you have a great resource or story, please let Laura know!
"Stories of Service"
What are your fellow AmeriCorps members up to?

Jake Larsh, AmeriCorps Alum, Appleton

I just wanted to drop you a line and update you on the effects of AmeriCorps at Appleton West last year that I am seeing this year.  A little background: the Chance 2 program is the credit recovery program I was involved in after school, which would take credit deficient sophomores and drop them from the regular schedule and put them in a recovery setting at the school from 2:30 to 5:30 during the week. With all the work put into the freshman last year at West.  The Chance 2 program had an issue this year that was unprecedented.  Usually they have credit deficient students (0-3 credits).  There were NOT ENOUGH "CREDIT DEFICIENT" STUDENTS to run the program as usual!  They had to change up the program to take students who were at 4 or 5 credits which they usually do not do and revamp the program for this year's spring semester to run during the school day!  I think this is a huge testament to the benefits of Americorps in communities like Appleton!  I am continually grateful and glad to have been part of that movement!


You all have great things to share in the first Progress Report. Here are a few that stood out for us:


Michelle Holt, MSCR, Mendota Elementary

On October 25th, 2011 with the help of other teachers, I raised over $2000 in food and gift donations for our International Literacy Night. I contacted the Wisconsin International Outreach Consortium, and I was able to get five people, including the Outreach Coordinator of the South Asian Studies Department to volunteer their storytelling services. We had two Southeast Asian Studies graduate students tell Indonesian stories that featured paper marionettes, we had two African Studies graduate students tell African stories and used a projector to show lots of interesting and informative pictures. The volunteer storyteller from the South Asian studies department brought her daughter, spices from India, story books, and other small interactive projects for the students. All of the storytellers were wonderful! We had lots of ethnic food donated from local restaurants. We had a raffle with prizes donated from local stores. We made the raffle free, and we said that students and their families must be present to win so families stayed the whole night and enjoyed the evening!

Feedback from the event:

“I wanted to thank you for all your hard work in helping organize our Literacy Night. We don't have many events such as this one, so when we do, it's truly precious, as it brings so many individuals from our school community together. Thank you for all your thoughtful planning; you deserve many kudos for helping organize such a wonderful event!” –Elementary School Facilitator

“Thank you for helping to organize such a phenomenal night!”- Elementary School Principal

The AmeriCorps “volunteer coordinator at (a local school) contacted us at the University of Wisconsin International Outreach Consortium to find storytellers for her literacy night event…we want you to know that we support events small, like the one at that school, and big events like one today.”- Outreach Coordinator for the South Asian Studies Department in her opening speech at the International Children’s Literature Conference at the University of Wisconsin Madison.



Sharon Schmidt, Grantsburg

An exciting “accident” happening this year is our “Beauregard’s Big Word” project.  This program is open to all elementary school students.  Beauregard and his sister, Beulah (stuffed dogs) live in the AmeriCorps office and offer a new big word ever week.  Students’ challenges are to 1) pronounce the word correctly,  2) give the definition of the word, and 3) use it in a sentence, showing they can synthesize their knowledge.  Words have been chosen to assist students who prepared for their WKCE, students who are working on certain language components, studying certain concepts, etc.  One student stops by every Monday morning and writes the word on a piece of provided scratch paper and puts it in his pocket.  He will try to use his strategies to pronounce the word and has discussion if the rules he is working with do not apply.  He will either look up the word in his dictionary (which he has now brought from home to keep in his cubby at school) or checks it on-line.  He will quiz his teacher to see if he/she knows the word.  Then he comes to complete the requirements and get his prize.  What he is recently doing, is stopping in on Friday morning to see if there are any first graders who are still struggling with the word.  Then, at lunch or recess time, he finds them and shows them how to use his dictionary so they, too, can find success.   He has become a “Big Word Mentor”!


Jon Levendoski, Viroqua

Probably the most impactful thing that has been done so far is the creation of the Student Pantry. I admit to skepticism regarding the level of need and the willingness to use such a resource. This is a very proud community, and I felt that most students would shun “charity”. At the end of the day, the students not only took advantage of this resource, but also supported each other with open arms. In addition to simply having the opportunity to see students get what they need, there has been an outpouring of support from the community as donations of money and goods have flown in at such a rate that we have to push people back and ask them to wait until we are sure that we really need more things. The high school in Viroqua has less than 400 students. The day before the Pantry opened, we held meetings with each grade level to describe the pantry to them. Even in front of their peers, several students were noticeably excited and grateful. The next day 20 orders came in, and they have not stopped since then. Students have asked for help, and other students have stepped up to help them. I specifically remember one student coming to us after a meeting and telling us that he knew for some students, transportation was an issue. He worked for the local taxi-cab company and could get us coupons for free rides that we could hand out to students as they needed them. It really is something to see students helping students.


The Progress Report:



Jen Grezenski, Almond-Bancroft

Student volunteers are recruited through morning announcements in the school, community newsletter and the “get involved” website.  Parent volunteers were recruited through a parent volunteer application sent to all parents at the start of the school year.  From this list collected of parent volunteers, I would call available parents when there was an opportunity.  Community volunteers were recruited through the community newsletter and the “volunteers rock” website sponsored by Portage County United Way.


Ally Armstrong, Wisconsin Special Olympics

I recruited most of my volunteers through school clubs and organizations. To find these volunteers, I contacted the advisors for Key Clubs, Student Councils, Best Buddies, and NHS.


Many volunteers are using existing lists of volunteers: from the Parent-School Organization, the local volunteer centers, and from the schools they work. Others are contacting area universities and colleges, senior centers, clubs, or using students as mentors. One Member is contacting local businesses and asking their group to pledge a set number of volunteer hours to the school.


The Progress Report:



Patrick Gelhaus, Rib Lake

I remind the students of my expectations when under the supervision of a volunteer.


Jen Grezenski, Almond-Bancroft

I taught a unit in two English 10 classroom on deliberative service learning.  One class focused on the poor quality of the school lunch program.  From the deliberation, students created various service learning projects to create a change in the school lunch program.  Many of the projects included a survey to find out student likes and dislikes, while others included looking at the portions of servings and how food could be made.  The other class looked at integration of PBIS in our school.  Students created surveys to gain knowledge about their peers view on PBIS and suggest for the school to improve how PBIS is managed in our school.  Many of the projects were created, however, not carried out to see a change in the school.


Ally Armstrong, Wisconsin Special Olympics

Two students ran a campaign at Neenah High School and sold 93 R-Word t-shirts, had students sign a pledge banner, and held an open gym night for local Special Olympics athletes.


Sharon Johnson, Spooner

I offered a community service themed 4-H club for middle school aged students as part of our afterschool program.  16 students were part of this club from mid-September to mid-December.  The first club meeting we held a “world café” as demonstrated in our AmeriCorps training in Madison this year. The students rotated in groups to three different tables where they talked about, and drew aspects of their community.  They responded very well to this and brainstormed both positive and negative aspects of our community.  Of course they liked the cookies we provided J. The second week we did a fun event, a “Community Scavenger Hunt” in our 2-3 block downtown area. Students divided into groups of 3, and were given specific information to “find” by talking to merchants in downtown stores, or looking for information in / around stores.  This served as a fun way for kids to get to know what types of businesses we have downtown. They were very respectful of merchants and other customers.  Our club then began working on a quilt project, to be given away as a door prize to someone during the upcoming Family Reading Night at the elementary school. The theme of the Family Reading Night was “Tell Me A Tale” and was focused on folklore and fairy tales.  The students in our club drew fairy tale pictures on 12 x 12 fabric squares. A volunteer sewed the rest of the quilt together.


The Progress Report:



Patty Steen, Northwoods

We prepared a salsa with students who had planted the vegetables during kindergarten and now are in first grade. All the produce was collected from our school garden. We also had some community members involved and everyone enjoyed the delicious salsa. Now I am working on a different project which involves the school menus, focused on healthier food that tastes good. I am working side by side with the Wellness Director in our school. We will be offering a healthier menu with more salads, soups fruits for the kids. The kids were involved on this project by setting up a survey on the food choices. They will be also set up a tasting survey next month. Some of the members of our community that were present during the wellness meetings will be overseeing this project. During the beginning of the wellness project, we had few parents very concerned about the health of the kids. We had a Nutritionist during our meetings who had done some studies of the food ingredients of the meals we offer at this school and also other schools within the region. She helps us with some suggestions and data that we could provide to our parents and staff members. We will be serving a few different and healthier choices on our school menu in January. We are also working on the usage of the vending machines and healthier snacks.


Yulia Rich, Northwoods

We are planning to design and build Nature Trails, building on the fantastic community/school garden started last year.


Colleen Douglass, Ashland Public Library

I would like to organize an event with the parents of the after school children, showing them what we do, and the progress that is made because of the consistency and care of the volunteers.


The Progress Report:



Nicole Mlsna, Jackson County UWEX

One of my volunteers gave a presentation on rabbits and chickens for the students in my afterschool program. She has offered to come to the afterschool program again anytime. I have someone who has volunteered to teach some students to crochet. So, we plan on teaching them how to do that and then make some scarves/mittens/hats to donate.


Many AmeriCorps members coordinated very successful community donation food, toy, and clothing drives throughout the winter season.


Jessica Smuda, Spooner

Our AmeriCorps team coordinated and led a fairy-tale-themed Family Reading Night in November. We sent an e-mail out to teachers at the elementary school to see if they would like to lead a station, and we had about five teachers offer to lead a reading-related station. We also partnered with our Farm-to-School AmeriCorps members to provide a meal to the families before the event. After the meal, there were four rotations, where children and parents/families could attend the stations. It went very well, and we had good attendance. The families and volunteers involved seemed to enjoy it as well.




 2010-2011 Service Stories
ĉ DPI_AmeriCorps_servicestory_selections.doc
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selected stories from members in the ESAG and SL&L 2010 programs.   66k v. 5 Oct 28, 2011, 11:25 AM DPI AmeriCorps
 Member-created Resources
ĉ BeauregardLetter.doc
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description of Sharon Schmidt's "Beauregard's Big Word" activity   191k v. 2 Oct 13, 2011, 11:18 AM DPI AmeriCorps
 Stories of Service Archive
Ċ April.pdf
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April stories and great ideas  39k v. 3 Jun 22, 2011, 8:11 PM DPI AmeriCorps
Ċ February.pdf
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February stories and great ideas  94k v. 2 Apr 7, 2011, 6:35 PM DPI AmeriCorps
Ċ January.pdf
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January stories and great ideas  31k v. 2 Mar 21, 2011, 6:03 PM DPI AmeriCorps
Ċ June.pdf
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June stories and good ideas!  31k v. 2 Aug 12, 2011, 10:36 AM DPI AmeriCorps
Ċ March.pdf
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March stories and great ideas  22k v. 2 May 18, 2011, 9:25 AM DPI AmeriCorps
Ċ May.pdf
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May service stories and good ideas  39k v. 3 Jul 6, 2011, 10:45 AM DPI AmeriCorps