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UM Student Volunteer Efforts Boost Missoula Economy

Recent statistics from The University of Montana’s Office for Civic Engagement show that UM students exceeded expectations for community service during the 2009-10 academic year, with a total of 1,641 students completing 161,246 hours of service.

This equates to an economic impact of more than $2.2 million based on the value of a volunteer hour in Montana calculated by the Independent Sector.

“UM has a long and proud history of community engagement,” said Andrea Vernon, director of the Office for Civic Engagement. “Student volunteerism and service learning are important aspects of engagement that demonstrate the University’s public service mission.”

The volunteers include 1,309 students who participated in service learning courses between autumn and spring semesters. UM now offers 40 service learning classes across multiple disciplines that engage students in community-based volunteerism to enrich academic learning. Service learning students logged more than 57,000 hours of community service.

The 180 student volunteers affiliated with UM’s Campus Corps AmeriCorps Program accounted for 93,350 hours of service with Missoula community nonprofit organizations. In addition, 152 students volunteered for various extracurricular activities throughout the year, such as Service Saturdays, Alternative Breaks and the popular Can the Cats Food Drive, for a total of 10,634 hours.

All of the students’ service hours are performed in collaboration with community organizations and directed to meet some of Missoula’s most pressing challenges, such as hunger, education, health and the environment.

The Office for Civic Engagement works to challenge and improve lives with an ethic of service and investment in community. Founded in 1992 as Volunteer Action Services, it is a department of UM’s Davidson Honors College and is the University’s primary agent of community activism and civic responsibility.