Cuesta College communications studies teacher Beth-Ann Dumas is a big fan of experiential learning. For members of her small group discussion class, learning by doing means planning and implementing a project that fulfils a community or Cuesta need.

To experience the meaningfulness and impact, each project must also include interacting with the project beneficiaries, Dumas tells students in her Communication Studies 210 class held on the North County campus.

One group’s project will give fellow Cuesta students and community members the opportunity to help veterans.

The team explored several organizations that help vets and zeroed in on the Veterans Transition Center of Monterey County, which operates at the decommissioned Fort Ord and is the service provider for homeless veterans for the Coastal California area.

“We learned that they are low on non-perishable food in their food storage bank,” said student Jim Angelini, a Paso Robles resident. “It became an easy choice; we decided to work with the VTC and hold a food drive where we could have an immediate impact.”

The students have teamed up with Fort Hunter Liggett for a canned food drive on Nov. 11 and will then concentrate on collecting money to be given to the Veterans Transition Center at an event on Cuesta’s North County campus scheduled in December.

Another group in the class is creating a garden for Winifred Pifer Elementary students in Paso Robles and is planning a garden work/planting day for the children and their families. “They are raising all of the funds and soliciting donations as well,” Dumas said. “I believe they have already raised close to $200.”

Additional students are working with ECHO (El Camino Homeless Organization) to set up a breakfast booth and collection event for items to help keep the homeless warm as nights grow colder. They are also heading up a drive at the North County campus for those items.

“The primary purpose of the assignment is for students to better understand and improve upon the group communication strategies, skills, and methods we are learning about in class,” Dumas said.


Jay Thompson  |  (805) 546-3100, ext. 2636  |  Email: jay_thompson@cuesta.edu  |  Posted Oct. 23, 2012