Individuals and groups across the campus and community were honored with 2022 Civic Engagement Awards on April 12 as part of Illinois State University’s annual Civic Engagement Celebration. The event was hosted by the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE).
The winners were announced by CCE Director Dr. Katy Strzepek and awards were presented to the winners by Illinois State University President Dr. Terri Goss Kinzy.
Each year nominations come from across the campus and community for the various award categories. The winners are then selected by an independent committee. (Two separate committees were formed in 2022 to avoid conflicts of interest.)
“It’s important to celebrate the outstanding civic engagement work taking place across our campus and community,” said Strzepek, “and the nominations this year were stronger than ever before. Our award committees truly had a difficult task. We are extremely proud of all of the individuals and groups this year who worked to make a #RedbirdImpact and advance the University’s core value of civic engagement.”
The Association for Computing Machinery—Technology Assistance Outreach Service (also known as TACOS) received the 2021 Registered Student Organization (RSO) Civic Engagement Award. This award honors an RSO that has been significantly involved in civic engagement at Illinois State or in the broader community. These experiences prepare RSO members to be informed and engaged global citizens who will promote and further the goals of society.
This group of students involved in TACOS partnered with Luther Oaks Retirement Community to support the residents by troubleshooting technology issues and providing technology training.
Staff from Luther Oaks said the students have been very enthusiastic in this collaboration and have taken a great interest in the residents. The students have gone far beyond the expectations of Luther Oaks.
Student participants said they have made connections between their major in computer science and the community, have developed a variety of essential skills for their future careers, and that participating in TACOS has been one of the most rewarding experiences in their college careers.
Milner Library received the 2022 Unit Civic Engagement Award. This award recognizes a unit or department that has developed a civic engagement initiative or activity at Illinois State or in the community, reflecting the department’s commitment to the public good.
Milner Library is community-minded and emphasizes the co-creation of knowledge. They host exhibits in collaboration with units across campus that educate students and get them thinking about important issues. Examples of such exhibits include “The Student Vote: 50 Years of the 26th Amendment” and “Canal by Canal,” an exhibit featuring land, water, and people connected to ancient irrigation in Valencia, Spain.
The library is also committed to sharing its resources, artifacts, and knowledge with the community. Most notably, Milner has played a role in supporting Uptown Normal’s annual Sweet Corn Circus by consulting on programming and sharing artifacts.
Interdisciplinary Team Award
The District 87 Wellness Collaborative received the 2022 Interdisciplinary Team Civic Engagement Award. This award recognizes a group, team, or initiative that is a multi-department effort of a civic engagement initiative or activity at Illinois State University or in the community. This recognition acknowledges that civic engagement has no boundaries, and that collaboration is often required.
The District 87 Wellness Collaborative is an ecologically framed initiative, specifically using whole-of-school approaches to K–12 student wellness. The model promotes alignment, integration, and collaboration between health and education to improve each child’s cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development.
The Collaborative is comprised of eight Illinois State faculty members from three colleges and two faculty members from partnering institutions.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Diane Wolf ’89, ’92, M.S. ’95, Ed.D. ’15, stated that the work of the Collaborative has been extremely helpful to District 87. The Collaborative took the District’s vision of wellness for families, students, and staff and really analyzed what is needed for this diverse community. According to Wolf, Bloomington Public Schools is fortunate to have ISU as a research partner, and this is one example of the good work of academics in McLean County.
Community Partner Award
Sunnyside Community Garden & Food Forest received the 2022 Community Partner Civic Engagement Award. This award recognizes a community organization that is significantly involved with Illinois State University. This recognition honors organizations and individuals who contribute to student learning and support student engagement with the community in a curricular or cocurricular setting.
Sunnyside Garden has connected with countless academic courses and student organizations, and through those connections over 200 students have volunteered at Sunnyside. Sunnyside also has a strong partnership with the Department of Agriculture. Each spring, students in Dr. David Kopsell’s AGR 257: Fruit & Vegetable Production class grow seedlings and vegetable transplants at the Ropp Greenhouse for the garden. The course also has a workday at the garden in April to help with planting.
According to Kopsell, these partnerships bring hands-on learning to students, creating an opportunity for the students to apply what they have learned in the classroom.
Last fall, Sunnyside also partnered with ART 351/451: Video Special Projects for the creation of a 15-minute documentary about the garden to support its fundraising efforts. The opportunity allowed students to develop real-life industry experience, including off-site filming, interviewing, ethical considerations, and a public theatre premiere. Professor Ruth Burke taught the class, and she continues to work with Sunnyside for her research on land artworks.
Dr. David Kopsell received the 2022 Faculty Civic Engagement Award. This award recognizes a faculty member who has contributed significantly to incorporating civic engagement into their teaching, scholarly and creative productivity, and/or professional and community service while at Illinois State University. This recognition honors the faculty member’s commitment to the public good and advancement of civic engagement within their discipline.
Kopsell is a professor of horticulture in the Department of Agriculture. His career exemplifies a strong commitment to the value of service-learning projects to promote civic engagement. Since 2006, Kopsell has incorporated 76 community/service-learning projects in 50 different horticultural and landscape management courses with six more underway this semester! The projects range from preparing designs, to horticultural and landscape maintenance projects, to installation projects.
These projects frequently involve in-kind donations from the sponsoring organizations, allowing our students opportunities to work on larger projects beyond what is possible for Illinois State to support. Further, these projects have involved numerous local community partners including (but not limited to) public schools, local golf courses, retirement communities, horticultural/nursery/landscape businesses, a cancer center, Habitat for Humanity, and Sunnyside Community Garden.
Kopsell has woven civic engagement into his research, too. He has had two refereed publications and five abstracts/presentations at professional meetings of his studies evaluating the impact of civic engagement on student learning. The studies reported a positive relationship.
Finally, Kopsell is a mentor to his colleagues providing support and practical tips for how, they too, can incorporate civic engagement into their courses.
The Staff Award recognizes a staff member who is significantly involved in civic engagement activities at Illinois State University and/or in the broader community. This recognition honors staff members who contribute to the public good and embody the core value of civic engagement personally and/or professionally. This year awards were presented for both Civil Service and Administrative Professional classifications.
Dr. Dana Karraker received the 2022 Civil Service Staff Civic Engagement Award.
Karraker is an assistant director for the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology. In her role, she coordinates many faculty development programs including the “Redesign Your Course For Civic Engagement” summer cohort which approximately 100 faculty have now participated in.
She regularly looks for ways to incorporate themes of civic engagement, deliberative dialogue, and social justice in all of her programs. She is described as a true civic engagement rock star, and she embodies what it means to be community-minded in word and action. Her expertise in civically engaged pedagogical strategies is an amazing asset to our campus and community.
Beyond her work at Illinois State, Karraker has long been involved with many activities in the Bloomington-Normal community including Bloomington-Normal Junior Woman’s Club, Glenn School Parent Teacher Organization, the McLean County Unit 5 School District Citizen Advisory Council, the McLean County Association for the Education of Young Children, the Wesley Bright Beginnings Preschool Board, and the West Bloomington Revitalization Project.
Dr. Danielle Miller-Schuster received the 2022 Administrative Professional Staff Civic Engagement Award.
Miller-Schuster is assistant vice president for Student Affairs. Each year, she dedicates significant time and leadership to The Baby Fold’s Festival of Trees. As chair of the Festival of Trees’ Presentation Committee, she serves as the liaison to The Baby Fold leadership and Festival Steering Committee throughout the year. She develops the theme for each individual event space; coordinates venue layout and design; works with vendors to implement pipe, drape, electricity, construction, sound, and technology; leads volunteers; and incorporates mission-related elements to help visitors learn more about The Baby Fold.
Her work significantly contributes to the annual event which is The Baby Fold’s largest fundraiser. Last year the Festival raised $250,000 for critical programs.
The Baby Fold staff describes Miller-Schuster’s efforts as “tireless” and they say that “the impact of her extraordinary efforts translates into positive futures for families in need, making the whole community stronger.”
Anna Stewart received the 2022 Student Civic Engagement Award. This award recognizes a student who is significantly involved in civic engagement activities at Illinois State University and/or in the broader community, embodying the ideal of an informed and engaged global citizen.
Stewart has been a valued member of CCE’s Alternative Breaks program for the past four years. She has served as a trip leader on multiple trips and now serves on the executive board. Stewart was described by her nominator as “one of the most dedicated students I have ever met.”
On Alternative Break trips, Stewart is dedicated to supporting fellow students’ education about their social issue as well as understanding the importance of their work.
This year she also took on the tasks of updating policies and procedures, revising organization structure, and developing curriculum for trip leader trainings. This kind of work, which is often not visible, supports the long-term goals and health of the organization.
Friend of Civic Engagement
While the other Civic Engagement Awards are selected by an independent committee from nominations across the campus and community, the Friend of Civic Engagement Award was created by CCE staff in 2021 to recognize individuals going above and beyond to help CCE fulfill its mission.
Grace Allbaugh received the 2022 Friend of Civic Engagement Award.
Allbaugh is the social sciences librarian at Milner Library. As such she is the librarian for the Civic Engagement and Responsibility Minor. However, this recognition was not for her regular job duties. Allbaugh was honored because she goes above and beyond to support CCE’s Deliberative Dialogue Program. She was one of several faculty to be trained in fall 2020 to facilitate Deliberative Dialogues. Since then, she has enthusiastically volunteered for 7 dialogues.
Her help was critical in fall 2020 as the program experienced rapid expansion and demand. Even this year, however, as CCE hired students to help with the facilitation, Allbaugh was still enthusiastic about volunteering. She even served as a facilitator for a national Deliberative Dialogue, leading a conversation among students and faculty from across the country.
“Thank you, Grace,” said Strzepek during the award presentation. “We are so grateful for your support in helping us create important experiences for students to have these difficult conversations.”