WU hosts national service conference

Jaimie Luse

Washburn University played host to a recent convention of students from around the country that have one thing in common; their love of volunteering in the community they live in.

The Bonner scholars program is a service program and most of the members will do 900 hours of community service over two years.  There are 85 school across the country that have the Bonner program and each year in the fall, according to Rick Ellis, director of Learning in the Community, they meet to look at the agenda of the Bonner program for the upcoming year.  

Every school in the Bonner program elects two or three congressional representatives that attend the event. Washburn’s congressional representatives were Amber Rufener, Kyle Schmidt and Porscha Selley.

This year Washburn University hosted the Bonner Congress.  They welcomed 197 students from 51 of the 85 Bonner schools for the three-day congress from Friday Oct. 27 to Sunday Oct. 31.  

“Meeting with schools in our region, and we had two regional leaders, and we talked about how we could stay in contact with the schools that are closest to us that have Bonner programs, and how we could use each other as researches and maybe pair up at some point in the future to do service together,” said Rufener.

The second part of the congress focused on the goals and ideas for the semester. Each school in attendance was required to come with a big idea or a goal for their Bonner program or their community.  

Washburn’s goal for the semester is to refocus their issue groups. There are six or seven issue groups that deal with different topics.

“Depending on each student’s service style they’ll be put into a group and they’ll work together to talk about the actual issue that’s going,” said Rufener.  “They want to put people together in groups that work with the same things so they can talk about the issue and volunteer or educate about their issue.  They hope to start working on it over the next few weeks.”