Fort McCoy Chili Cook-Off 2020 Service Project

Submitted by  Dr. Chris Knierim Service-Learning Coordinator, The Office of Service, Civic, and Community Engagement

On March 14, just before COVID-19 shut down businesses and life changed as we now know, CF had 10 exceptional students participate in 29th Fort McCoy Chili Cook-off to assist in raising funds for Fort McCoy School, which serves students kindergarten through eighth grade in northeast Marion County. Some of the CF students were first-year students from the SLS122 course, and some were from ENC1102 courses. These students set up a country-style booth lovingly called CF Vintage Farm that included hay and games for young children to play. Students learned how to make chili and entered theirs into a contest for judging. Although CF did not win this year, the students had a lot to be grateful for and to celebrate. Our students represented CF with dignity, respect, and professionalism! This service event was a chance for our students to network in the community and gather knowledge from CF alumni, and community members on what it takes to make it in the world.

Even though this was the start of the business shut down due to COVID-19, students took part in an experience that they can be immensely proud of and will remember for years to come. A service-learning project in which they worked together as a team while networking with the community. This year because of the inevitable shut down, there were fewer vendors supporting this event, and it was very sparse; however, we exceeded expectations and raised over $4,100 for the school. This event helps to raise money for scholarships in the amount of $500, go to children in a low-socioeconomic area that otherwise never would have dreamed that they had a chance to go to college However, CF students learned what it means to work as a team.  Some sold tickets, washed down tables, served food, washed dishes, and put together our booth and chili. A big thanks to the CF students who made this commitment to give up their Saturday for a more significant cause than themselves.

CF has been a part of this event for the last seven years as it keeps growing. Students, also in their reflections, tie this event back to two chapters in their textbook on Health and Wellness along with Maslow’s theory of Hierarchy and write informative reflection pieces that build their writing skills. These students did not have to do this, but they wanted to do this. These students demonstrate what it means to be a servant leader!