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Inside Iowa State
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May 18, 2001

Students help communities with immigration issues

by Steve Sullivan
Iowa State students are helping Iowa communities address immigration and workforce issues.

"Life in Iowa," a program developed by ISU Extension's Continuing Education and Communications Service, places students in community-based learning projects. Two pilot projects, involving students with the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics and the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, were done this spring.

"The program was designed to immerse students in the cultural and natural environment of Iowa communities, give them a keener sense of ethnical awareness and social responsibility, and assist efforts to create sustainable quality of life in Iowa," said Nancy Bevin, program coordinator.

The Catt center placed three students with Gov. Tom Vilsack's office to work with Iowa communities and the New Iowans pilot project, designed to help increase Iowa's population and reduce the state's workforce shortage. They had assignments in Mason City, Marshalltown and Fort Dodge.

The students were responsible for documenting plans to recruit skilled immigrant workers and help them become part of their new communities, workplace and schools. This information will be used to write a strategic plan that can be implemented in other communities throughout the state.

In Storm Lake, Iowa State human development and family studies students who are fluent in Spanish focused their efforts on services for Hispanic and Asian families.

Students in the Life in Iowa program earn academic credit for community-based learning. The program will expand next year with projects planned in Storm Lake, Fort Dodge and Marshalltown, as well as Atlantic, Decorah, Iowa Falls, Newton, Marshalltown and Ottumwa.

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