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Service Learning

Service Learning students work with Food Pantry to develop new building.

Service Learning

It’s one thing to learn something from a book and another entirely to take that knowledge and apply it to a community service project in the real world.

That’s exactly what students in the capstone Business Management Service Learning class at Nicolet College are doing as they work with the Rhinelander Food Pantry to prepare for the pantry’s move to a new building later this summer.

The pantry will move into the site currently occupied by the Golden Harvest Market, which is constructing a new building.

“It’s been a lot of fun and in many ways a real eye-opener,” said Joe Kirsch, who is part of the team of students working with Food Pantry staff. “To take what we learn in class and apply it to such a meaningful project, that’s just been fantastic.”

The eight students in the class have been meeting with Food Pantry staff about once a week since January. Most of the work focuses on improving processes – everything from how the food gets into the store to how customers move through to pick it up – and reconfiguring the floor plan to make these processes efficient.

“The students have been tremendously helpful,” said Guy Hansen, Food Pantry executive director. “They’ve had great ideas that we never would have thought of and helped us get to a very detailed level of planning. This includes everything from making the move, opening the new pantry, and even planning for potential future expansion.”

These days the meetings between pantry staff and students focus on a set of ever-refined blueprints created by Architectural Technology student Joe Chancellor. They’ve evolved from pencil drawings on graph paper to full-fledged CAD blueprints.

Walls have been moved, doors modified. Should the shelves be two feet wide or three? These and hundreds of other details have been thought over and defined.

“When we first started, I don’t think the students thought they could pull this off,” said Dianne Lazear, Nicolet Business Management instructor. “It’s been incredibly fun for me to see them work as a team, to watch them grow, and ultimately realize a sense of accomplishment when they see they can do this.”

Student Holly Rose said the project has been very rewarding. “The Food Pantry touches so many lives,” Rose said. “It’s been great to be a part of something that does so much for the good of the community.”

Pictured Above: Nicolet College students Joe Kirsch, center, and Holly Rose, right, work with Guy Hanson from the Rhinelander Food Pantry to refine plans for the pantry’s move to a larger building. Architecture Technology student Joe Chancellor, standing in the background on the right in the blue shirt, created multiple versions of the floor plans as ideas evolved.