Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Air Force Academy Spirit

Academy community service honored

By John Van Winkle

Academy Public Affairs

The Air Force Academy was honored for its community service efforts Feb. 9, when named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by The Corporation for National and Community Service.

Launched in 2006, the Community Service Honor Roll is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service-learning and civic engagement. Honorees for the award were chosen based on a series of selection factors including scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service, and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.

During the 2007-2008 academic year, Air Force Academy cadets participated in 43,600 hours of community service at 3,000 different volunteer events, as part of the Cadet Service Learning Program.

“Cadet Service Learning takes the Core Value: Service Before Self, and applies it in an applicable way for cadets. The added value is through Service Learning, character development happens when cadets help others,” said Maj. Eric Ecklund, director of Cadet Service Learning at the Academy’s Center for Character Development.

Community Service and the concept of Service Learning are part of the Academy’s efforts to offer cadet character development programs which emphasize one of the Academy’s central core values, “Service Before Self.” The Cadet Service Learning program attempts to take this core value from the theoretical concepts of the classroom to actual experiences with the goal of a lifelong internalized “volunteer ethic” and understanding of the value of serving others, particularly in the area of community service.

Cadets have volunteered to staff local elementary school carnivals, work a local soup kitchen and the Care and Share food bank, do trail restoration at Garden of the Gods, feed the homeless in Acacia Park, as well as individual cadet efforts with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, food and clothing drives, and more.

Cadet volunteer efforts are not limited to the Front Range, and some go as far to build homes for needy families.

Last year, 60 cadets gave up their spring breaks to build homes for needy families in Santa Fe, N.M.; Cody, Wyo.; Beaumont, Texas; and El Paso, Texas, via the Alternative Spring Break program.  Another group of cadets and Academy instructors spent their spring break on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico and Arizona, and upgrade homes for residents of the reservation.

Two Navajo homes are built each summer at the Academy, as part of an engineering course that combines education with community service. These homes are then donated to the Southwest Indian Foundation and transported to the reservation by the foundation.  The Academy has built 21 of these homes over the past decade.

“In this time of economic distress, we need volunteers more than ever. College students represent an enormous pool of idealism and energy to help tackle some of our toughest challenges,” said Stephen Goldsmith, vice chair of the board of directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees the Honor Roll. “We salute the Air Force Academy for making community service a campus priority, and thank the millions of college students who are helping to renew America through service to others.”

Historically, The Academy has performed between 20,000 and 30,000 hours of service learning projects during the course of any given academic year.

The Corporation for National and Community Service is the nation’s largest grantmaker supporting services and volunteering. This is federally-funded and is a national catalyst for community service, managing the Americorps and Senior Corps volunteer programs.

Two Navajo homes are built each summer at the Academy, as part of an engineering course that combines education with community service. These homes are then donated to the Southwest Indian Foundation and transported to the reservation by the foundation.  The Academy has built 21 of these homes over the past decade.

“In this time of economic distress, we need volunteers more than ever. College students represent an enormous pool of idealism and energy to help tackle some of our toughest challenges,” said Stephen Goldsmith, vice chair of the board of directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees the Honor Roll. “We salute the Air Force Academy for making community service a campus priority, and thank the millions of college students who are helping to renew America through service to others.”

Historically, The Academy has performed between 20,000 and 30,000 hours of service learning projects during the course of any given academic year.

The Corporation for National and Community Service is the nation’s largest grantmaker supporting services and volunteering. This is federally-funded and is a national catalyst for community service, managing the Americorps and Senior Corps volunteer programs.

To Top