Geraldine Stirtz Receives Voyager Award

Dr. Marilyn Hadley

Geraldine Stirtz, a member of the Teacher Education faculty at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, has received the Midwest Consortium   Voyager Award as a Scholarly Practitioner of Service-Learning.”

The award was presented during the annual Midwest Consortium conference held last weekend at the University of South Dakota  in Vermillion. The Midwest Consortium, funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service, provides grants to the Consortium member institutions  and offers faculty sub grants for course revision to include a service component. In all, there are 21 member institutions across the states of Nebraska and South Dakota. UNK has been a member institution since 1997. Stirtz has served as the UNK representative since the fall of 1998.

To receive the Voyager Award, an individual has to have made major contributions of time and effort in promoting service-learning. An awards committee, along with the Consortium D irector  Dr. Gary Heusel,  selects the award recipient.

“It was an honor to be presented with the award,” Stirtz said. “I was very pleased to be selected.

“Certainly, some credit belongs to  Dr.  Marilyn Hadley, UNK d ean of the College of Education, and my department chair,  Dr.   Dennis Potthoff, both highly supportive of my efforts in service-learning here at UNK, as well as with the Consortium ,” she concluded.

In making the award, Dr. Heusel noted that Stirtz was chosen to receive the Voyager Award based on her extensive work in the service-learning field. She was recognized for  her  work institutionally and regionally , and as a key supporter in the work of the Consortium, helping to keep  the Consortium focused on the mission and proposed grant objectives.

Stirtz served as a facilitator and coordinator for Consortium activities for several months  in the absence of a director. In addition, she conducts faculty/community training institutes, assists faculty in the development of grant proposals to integrate service-learning into their courses  and serves as a mentor to new institutions joining the Consortium.

Further, she was a key participant in writing the second round of a three-year grant to the Corporation for National and Community Service, and currently  chairs the Consortium Steering Committee.

In addition, she serves as the liaison between the UNK campus and the Kearney community for service-learning opportunities  for students and faculty. She developed and  teaches  a graduate-level course on service learning , and directs and facilitates the service-learning requirement  for all Teacher Education students at UNK.

Beyond her work on the campus and with the o rganization, Stirtz developed the Service Learning Corps of Rural Nebraska: An AmeriCorps Program for Teachers in the K-12 system, in which 23 area teachers were enrolled.