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5 ½ Ways Students Are Making a Difference This Summer

If I’ve learned anything about summers in college, it’s that they can be anything you want them to be. Lazy beach days? Of course. Earning cash to pay for next semester? Yep. Earning credits with summer classes? Sure. Making a huge impact in your community? Yes!

The Hometown Challenge, hosted by Career Services, helps students connect their education with solving real issues in their communities during the summer. Participants are spending 80 hours of their summer building their resumes while helping their hometowns. AND they’re earning $1,000 scholarships while they do it. Here are just a few ways these Broncos are making a difference this summer:

1) Creating smog filtration masks for athletes

Evan Daniels, a mechanical engineering student, is designing, prototyping and manufacturing activated charcoal filtration systems to alleviate smog and allergen inhalation for runners at his local high school. Cross country season typically starts right when fire season peaks in Idaho, so Evan is making masks similar to KN95 masks with greater air intake – perfect for runners training in smoggy conditions.

“This process was designed to be cost effective and reproducible. My goal for this project is to make the STL and sldprt. files available for further development and manufacturing, while also donating mask systems to my local high school.”

2) Working to keep a small town safe and healthy

Nicole Jones, a multidisciplinary studies major with a business certification, is working with the government in her hometown of Hollister, Idaho, to prevent a dairy farm from being built within city limits next to Hollister’s water supply. She’s spending the summer connecting with a contractor, the Environmental Protection Agency, Agricultural Dept., Department of Health in Twin Falls, and Twin Falls planning and zoning.

“Our next step is to attend the city council meeting. The project started off slow, but it is gaining more momentum now that the community is starting to become aware of what is happening.”

3) Refreshing an elementary school STEM lab

ReBekha Lulu, an elementary school teacher and educational leadership student, is refreshing the STEM lab at Basin Elementary School in Idaho City. The disruptions of COVID left the lab space neglected. She’s reorganizing the lab, creating a year-long curriculum, and building connections with community partners to support the school’s STEM program.

“The STEM lab is a favorite learning environment for many students. It houses everything from low-tech building materials to a fleet of 3D printers. My vision is to bring this place back to full functionality while elevating it to the next level with a thoughtful, standards-based, K-6 curriculum. STEM education opens the doors for exciting, inquiry-based programs, and the rejuvenated STEM lab will be a place for that learning to take root.”

4) Making comic books for education

Madeline Patterson, an aspiring high school government teacher, wants to make government processes and civic responsibilities easier to understand and participate in. She is spending the summer creating comics about topics like how someone becomes president, and how to get involved in your community.

“I wanted to make the learning process more fun for all age levels, so I decided to create civics comics. I’m really excited to show off the finished product and am currently working on a collaboration with the Boise Public Library to have it available in local branches.”

5) Improving support for students who are parents

Jessica Thomas is studying public health and applied leadership. As a student who is also a mother, she knows parents can use some extra help as they pursue higher education. She’s spending the summer creating and distributing The Student Parent’s Resource Guide.

“The guide includes fun ideas for stress busting (like getting out in green spaces and raft rental info) as well as practical resources (childcare and financial assistance). In addition to the resource guide, I am in the process of developing the Boise State Mental Health Resources for Student-Parents Facebook group for students who are mothers/parents experiencing stress and strain that can lead to mental health conditions.”

Jessica says anyone interested in participating in a virtual support group hosted by Health Services should contact her. It’s another potential source of support she’s hoping grows from her efforts this summer.

5 ½) Growing a garden

David Goff, Dzenita Hasanovic, Kalli Proffitt, and Phinneas Long are right here on campus sharing their green thumbs and caring for our Sustainability Garden.


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