Somerset, PA, October 12, 2011 - The State Farm Northeast Zone Youth Advisory Board is a diverse group of students and associates between the ages of 17 and 24. They play a leadership role in creating and overseeing a $60,000 State Farm funded service-learning initiative. Their work is truly youth-led and youth-driven. The Northeast Zone Board provides grants for student-led service-learning projects in the State Farm Northeast Zone, comprised of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
In their second year, the Board is excited to announce local grants to eight winners. The grant winner’s service-learning projects are in one of three categories determined by the board in the fall 2009, based on what State Farm and youth care about deeply:
Somerset Area School District is among eight recipients who were selected in the competitive grant process. A special presentation will take place on Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 10:00 at the Somerset High School State Farm Agent Jerry Pyles will be on hand The Eagle Courtyard: Soaring High for School and Community was a student driven dream of five sophomores who after attending the Second Mile Leadership Conference identified the problem of a lack of school pride and spirit within the school and community. Their solution was to renovate the neglected school courtyard into an environmentally friendly handicapped accessible outdoor classroom, a gathering place for academically motivated students, and a location for special school and community events and activities. Their vision was to use pavers, benches and handicapped accessible tables made of recycled materials, and landscaping to develop and enhance this area while providing an opportunity for school pride and spirit to emerge. They felt it was necessary to involve students with all types of talents and abilities i.e. masonry, landscaping as well as pull in community support and expertise. Now seniors, Garrett Baird, Alexis Oropallo, Zak Slayback, Liz Snyder and Aubrey Stull, developed blueprints, budgets, and plans, raised funds through grant writing and presentations to community and school organizations, coordinated groups of students and other activities associated with the development of the project. The technical students under the direction of two faculty members’ wheel-barrowed 22 tons of modified for the base into the courtyard which is enclosed on all four sides by the junior and senior high school. These students have laid the pavers for the 26 by 38 feet courtyard and trimmed the neglected shrubbery. Benches have been ordered and tables procured. Plans include purchasing a canopy to cover the paved area. Their dream is almost complete. This project truly embodied State Farm’s idea of service learning as a way to develop leadership qualities in youth of different talents and abilities by giving them the opportunity to use a hands-on approach to mastering skills and subject matter as they foster civic responsibility. Alexis Oropallo, steering committee member, summed up the project by stating,” Our goal was to pull students of all types and community members together on a project to improve the school and community spirit and pride. We did it and have a beautiful courtyard for the school and community to use.”
Research demonstrates that through service-learning students become more deeply engaged in what they are learning and become civic minded. They learn about their community and help affect measurable change. Schools have also experienced improved attendance and graduation rates because of service-learning.
State Farm has long believed that for communities to thrive, our youth must be empowered as leaders and decision-makers to address real issues and problems. State Farm also believes that through service-learning, young adults can have structured opportunities to make change in their communities while at the same time becoming better prepared for college, the workforce and community involvement.
Doug Griffith, State Farm Insurance (724)743-4961.
State Farm and its affiliates are the largest provider of car insurance in the U.S. and is a leading insurer in Canada. In addition to providing auto insurance quotes, their 17,800 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve 81 million policies and accounts - more than 79 million auto, home, life and health policies in the United States and Canada, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is also available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 37 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com or in Canada http://www.statefarm.ca.
Service-learning is a teaching method which supplements classroom studies with hands-on projects that address pressing community issues and problems. To learn more about service-learning visit www.nylc.org, www.ysa.org, www.service-learningpartnership.org and statefarm.com/about/part_spos/community/ed_excel/servlrng.asp.