Human Development and Family Studies students give back

One CSU organization in particular rewards community service with academic credit, provides leadership opportunities to its participants and a place to call home.

It’s called the Academic Interest Group (AIG), which is a student-run, non-profit organization consisting of 30 to 35 students –– and they’re all human development and family studies majors.

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Their role is “to provide an opportunity for students who are HDFS majors to take an active role in the community,” said Jen Krachick, AIG faculty advisor.

On campus, AIG participates in RamRide, Cans Around the Oval and CSUnity.

RamRide is included in one of the many fundraisers AIG participates in to raise money for their organization. Each semester they participate in Gelazzi Cares in Old Town and seek donations from local businesses.

AIG also works with organizations outside of the CSU campus, which include Oakridge Assisted Living, Kids at Heart — a program that works with adoptive, kinship and foster children — and a Thanksgiving Basket collection, where AIG is assigned two to three underprivileged families to provide with clothes, food and other necessities for the holiday season.

Volunteers work with children, adolescents, adults and the elderly.

“The HDFS major provides students with an informative picture of life the span as well as an in-depth knowledge of it,” Krachick said.

In an email to the Collegian, sophomore HDFS major Amanda Wilson described how she was confused on which direction she wanted to go with her major, but AIG “opened my eyes and helped me figure out exactly what I wanted to put my emphasis on,” she said.

AIG participants said the group helped them gain experience while fine-tuning their career goals and making a difference in the community.

Both HDFS majors and gerontology minors have the ability to be involved in AIG. The majority of students in the organization are volunteers, but currently six are earning one academic credit for their service.

Academic credit for AIG is only earned by maintaining a 3.0 GPA and performing 45 hours of community service, sophomore HDFS major Danielle Palmer, said in an email to the Collegian.

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That amounts to one credit. Seventy hours earns two credits and 135 hours earns three credits. The organization acknowledges that students may not be able to fulfill all their hours through AIG coordinated events, so these students are allowed to volunteer outside AIG.

Students also said they developed leadership skills while participating in AIG.

Junior HDFS major Allison Hamm said she didn’t want to join as a freshman, but ever since she signed up during her second semester on campus, she has enjoyed all the experiences and leadership opportunities she has received.

She now leads AIG as its president.

Last year, Hamm received the HDFS Undergraduate Student Development Scholarship for her volunteer work.

“It has opened my eyes to all the programs CSU and Fort Collins has,” she said.

Not only does AIG provide students with an abundance of volunteer opportunities, but also the chance to network and connect with professors on a different level.

Hamm said this opportunity “makes everyone more personable.” It is a different level of comfort that is not always present in the classroom.

“I met so many people that were also in my classes and very good friends I hang out with outside of AIG. You get to enjoy the company of your AIG members while doing some good for the community,” Wilson said.

Collegian Writer Megan Timlin can be reached at news@collegian.com.