In 2002, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and ISU Philosophy Professor Nancy Bevin founded “Life in Iowa,” an undergraduate community-based internship and academic program that combined classroom study of Midwestern culture and identity along with experiential learning through internship, service, and community research in an Iowa community. The course focused on issues and concerns specifically related to the cultural and natural landscape of Iowa.
The program had several desired outcomes: 1) cultivating the personal, social, and ethical growth of students; 2) renewing Iowa’s leadership via encouraging students to stay in Iowa after graduation and preparing students for professional and civic life; and 3) fostering sustainable quality of life and ongoing partnerships between Iowa State University and communities in Iowa (Brochures, RS 16/5/5, box 1, folder 9. See also Leopold Center Competitive Grant Report M02-2003).
The Life in Iowa program supported ISU students via paid internships and work in a variety of areas. Each student had to complete 300 intern hours and 100 hours of community service during the 10 weeks of their summer placement. Some of the projects for 2003 involved:
- Organizing and running a fishing club for local youth (Adams County)
- Revitalizing kestrel nest boxes (Green County)
- Interviewing ESL students about their immigration/refugee experiences (Henry County)
- Developing a website for a visitor center (Allamakee County)
- Researching and describing historical artifacts (Montgomery County)
- Coordinating a community garden (Dallas County)
“As you know, an important goal of this program is to encourage ISU graduates to stay in Iowa and build a future here. At the same time, we know that life presents each of us with a series of choices, many – if not most – of them unexpected, and so we have asked not for promises, but rather for newly explored possibilities of vocation and community, of leadership and service in Iowa. What I can say with certainty is that wherever these young persons someday will live will be made better for their presence…and that without exception, the communities where they lived and worked this summer will always welcome them home.” – from Nancy Blevin’s remarks at the “Life in Iowa Celebration,” September 8, 2002. (RS 16/5/5 box 1, folder 3)
By 2004, over 78 students had participated in the program in over 33 counties (“Life in Iowa” website). The program closed in 2007.
To learn more about the Life in Iowa program, see the Life In Iowa Internship Program Records (RS 16/5/5). Information about service learning and related initiatives can be found in the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching Administrative Records (RS 06/10/03).