Experience comes hard yet is invaluable.
Acting on that premise, five teams of management students from Radford University's College of Business and Economics (COBE) left the classroom and books behind this semester to learn lessons in planning, organizing and motivating in a series of community service projects.
The students in Professor Bruce Blaylock's MGNT 421: Leadership and Motivation class organized and executed the activities as class projects that included after-action presentations and papers. Among local agencies served were the Radford animal shelter and fire department, Beans and Rice, and the Blacksburg Church of Christ.
"I look at it as one big ship, and one person can't run a big ship alone," said Carrie Burkhardt, a management major from Chester. "But when the community comes together and works on different areas of the ship, productivity and effectiveness are increased immensely."
Burkhardt was part of a team that built a 32 cubic-foot edible garden with rosemary, tomatoes, bell peppers, thyme, basil, parsley and mint at the Oak Forest Mobile Home Park in Blacksburg, where the Church of Christ has an after-school program, called Common Ground.
"The residents were very grateful we were there and weren't shy about telling us so," said Burkhardt, whose team planned, solicited donations and coordinated the garden's construction. "The church is having the kids water and weed and take care of the garden bed as part of the Common Ground activities."
Two other five-person teams collected more than 400 nonperishable items for Radford's Beans and Rice food pantry, and one team hosted an open house for 40 people at the Radford Humane Society's shelter to encourage applications for adoption of rescue animals and to recruit shelter volunteers. Another team gathered volunteers to spend an afternoon at the Radford firehouse washing and polishing the department's fleet of trucks.
"Reading and talking about leadership is one thing, but we have to practice it," Professor Blaylock said. "This was an opportunity for the class to practice leadership skills and guide and motivate others toward accomplishing something."