Strengthening Democracy Awards: Outstanding Educator


We are highlighting the award winners for our Strengthening Democracy Awards on April 30th at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln. Buy your tickets here.

Substantive service learning programming can be an effective value-added curriculum strategy in any classroom. Sarah Roehl’s middle and high school classes at Weeping Water prove it.

When approached to participate in the inaugural year of Civic Nebraska’s joint Rural Civic Action Program in collaboration with the UNL Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication Department, Sarah saw an opportunity to engage both her 9th grade health students and 7th grade family and consumer science students in community engagement. In the same semester.

A 7th grade student helps a 1st grade student with the awareness poster they will post in local stores promoting healthy eating.

In the fall semester this year, both classes embarked on separate projects with two pairs of undergraduate fellows who facilitated the service learning process. They took inventory of community assets and liabilities, identified genuine community needs, and created substantive projects to address those needs. The results were impressive and effective projects: one coordinating the clean up of a local park, and the other raising awareness of healthy eating habits. In the current spring semester, Sarah’s health class is in the process of completing a new project.

One of the critical components of service learning is that it connect to course curriculum. Sarah expertly tied student interests and passions to relevant course concepts in multiple classes. Because of her innovative leadership and commitment to student leadership and creativity, Sarah Roehl is truly an outstanding educator.

9th grade students clean up the local park in Weeping Water.



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