POMs Place Service-Learning Students with Community Organizations

Last year, MU service-learning students provided over 177,000 hours of service to the Columbia community and its surrounding areas. This service met real needs in the community and gave students the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.

Another perk – students received course credit for their work. Courses available for this credit included: MU Community Engagement Project, Psychology capstone, Human Development and Family Studies, Social Work, Animal Science, Learning Teaching and Curriculum, Business Administration, Spanish Conversation, Black Studies, and more.

But how exactly were 4,362 students accounted for and placed at over 275 service sites?

That takes place at the service-learning’s Placement Orientation Meetings (POMs), which are held at the beginning of every semester and led by program administrators Anne-Marie Foley and Cara Gallup.

POMs allow students to meet with their class groupings and decide on the service site that works best with their interests, skillset and perhaps most importantly, schedule.

“Picking a service site that works with a student’s schedule benefits both them and the agency,” Gallup says. “They’re at their best when they know they have a certain time frame to serve that agency and the agency is best served because they know that the student has chosen a time that they can always show up and provide that service.”

At each POM, conversation occurs between program administrators and students about the various sites, such as what they do, how they work and what they are known for. Often times, several students have previous experience with the sites and are able to offer advice and personal stories to aid other students in their decisions.

Sites are available in the following categories: Animals, Arts and Culture, Basic Needs, Capacity Building, Community Based Education, Crisis Shelter/Counseling, Disability Services, Education/Children/Youth, Environment, Faith-Based, Health, Human Rights Advocacy, Immigrants/Refugees, International Focus, Legal Services, Local Government, Mentoring, Policy Formation, Public Safety, Residential Treatment, Seniors, Sports, Student Organizations, Veterans, and Women’s Issues.

After students make their decisions, they are placed in the MU Serves system with their placement information. From there, students contact their program supervisor to schedule a time to meet and discuss their placement. Once a student meets with their program supervisor, they can begin their service.

MU senior Emma McIntyre, from Springfield, Mo., is pursuing a Minor in Leadership and Public Service. She became involved with service-learning during the MU Community Engagement Project course (General Honors 2021H).

Now, as a student in Social Work 1115, McIntyre has been placed with Bear Creek Elementary Head Start after attending a Fall 2014 POM.

McIntyre says that her POM was both informative and helpful in guiding her throughout the service process for both of her service sites.

“The Office of Service-Learning walked me through every step to ensure that I could serve effectively and as soon as possible,” she says. “This semester, when I had a specific placement site in mind because of my past positive experience, they worked with me to coordinate my placement at the same site.”

POMs are an important element to service-learning, as they enable students, community programs and administrators alike to benefit.

“What I love about POMS and interacting with students across campus is that we are always participating in a win-win situation,” Foley says. “Students get incredible educational experiences and opportunities for personal development, and the community gets them – excited, enthusiastic, dedicated young people who go out there and change the world every semester.”

To find out more about the Office of Service-Learning and placement opportunities for the Spring 2015 semester, check out https://www.facebook.com/muserves, muserves.missouri.edu or emailumcasservicelearning@missouri.edu.