From September 26 through 28, dozens of community organizations attended the Get Involved Fairs held at Conestoga’s Doon, Cambridge, Waterloo and Guelph campuses. The fairs take place annually during both the Fall and Winter semesters to connect organizations throughout the region, as well as college service groups, with Conestoga students interested in establishing contacts for program-related volunteering on and off campus.
Through the fairs, coordinated by the college's Student Engagement team, students have supported a broad range of community activities and services that include preparation of tax returns for low income individuals and delivery of respite care.
Tracy Morgan, Recreation Community Development manager and volunteer coordinator at Kinbridge Community Association, has been attending the fair since 2005. “Being here allows us to engage directly with students who may be interested in supporting us - usually those from the recreation or social work programs.”
Kinbridge offers youth drop-in clinics, after school special events and tutoring. Morgan said each Get Involved Fair results in at least a few volunteers for Kinbridge.
“Securing two or three student volunteers may not sound like a lot, but they’re volunteers who we know want to work with us so that’s valuable. They bring fresh ideas and energy to our programs and we like that they are closer in age to the students who attend our youth programs.”
Kendra Foord, programmer with Conestoga’s Student Engagement team, said the fair has grown over the years and expanded beyond the Doon campus, but Student Engagement has also worked to connect students with organizations they may have a professional interest in.
At the Cambridge campus, where Conestoga’s Engineering programs are delivered, Foord said an effort has been made to reach technical students in particular. OACETT, the certifying body for engineering and applied science technicians and technologists in Ontario, participates in the fairs to share information about its student memberships and opportunities at the local chapter. This year, Tinker Truck, a non-profit that delivers hands-on exploratory learning to children in the region, attended for the first time. Tinker Truck representative Cam Turner said he was pleased with the student turnout and recruited 15 volunteers for a maker event at Kitchener City Hall this October.
Foord said 19 agencies attended the Cambridge Fall fair and 29 were on site at Doon. Another 10 agencies participated at the Guelph and Waterloo campuses.
The organizations represent a broad range of services; through the fairs students are able to network with community partners to find opportunities to build their professional portfolio, increase their confidence and employability skills, and contribute to the community.
By the end of the Fall term many of these off-campus opportunities will be eligible for Co-Curricular Record (CCR) recognition. The CCR is an official document, complementary to a student’s academic transcript, which recognizes and records learning achieved through approved co-curricular experiences at the college.
Conestoga’s Student Engagement team, formerly Student Life, meets the needs of students through innovative programming designed to achieve goals with learning outcomes-based initiatives including the Co-Curricular Record, Orientation, Respect@Conestoga, the Connect Leadership Workshop Series, Campus Service Learning, and various student volunteer and committee opportunities.
Visit the Student Engagement website for more information.