Hands-on Learning

Hands-on Learning Gives CAES Students an Edge

Ensure future students have experiential learning opportunities by giving to CAES today.
Carson Dann, an agriscience and environmental systems student (left) volunteers at Campus Kitchen, while Teri Rakusin (right) pitches in at UGArden. Ensure future students have experiential learning opportunities by giving to CAES today.

This fall’s freshman class will be the first for which experiential learning becomes a university-wide graduation requirement.

Experiential learning helps students connect their academic foundations with their professional aspirations, and opportunities like study abroad programs, internships, research and service learning fulfill the requirement. It’s “hands-on learning in settings beyond the classroom,” according to Linda Bachman, director of the University of Georgia’s Office of University Experiential Learning.

“By providing students with tailored experiential opportunities and the kind of personalized mentoring more often found at small, private colleges, UGA is ensuring that all of our undergraduates have a competitive advantage in graduate or professional school and the workplace,” Bachman said. “Experiential learning is a distinctive feature of a UGA education, and the requirement ensures that all of our students will benefit.”

Courses and noncredit activities that satisfy the requirement have been identified by each of the university’s colleges. In the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences alone, there are more than 70 experiential course options already offered across all majors.

“CAES is well-prepared to provide students with hands-on, experiential learning programs through our Deans’ Promise initiative, which began 11 years ago,” said CAES Associate Director of Student Engagement Amanda Stephens. “Our students participate in life-changing experiential learning programs like studying abroad in Uruguay, Costa Rica or Italy, interning with congressmen in D.C., teaching fourth-grade science in Clarke County, Georgia, or conducting research with one of our world-renowned scientists.”

Nine CAES study abroad programs are available worldwide, and CAES students ventured outside those programs to travel to a total of 22 countries between 2015 and 2016.

In 2016, 44 students presented faculty-mentored research projects in the CAES Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Countless CAES students have obtained internships that allow them to test their skills and create networks in professional settings.

Since 2001, UGA students have participated in the college’s uLEAD Certificate in Leadership and Service program and, currently, about 70 students are completing the coursework and service-learning projects associated with the certificate. About a quarter of those are CAES students.

“Most students who engage in an experiential opportunity tend to come back for more, so the real transformative impact of UGA’s experiential learning initiative will lie in the ways we help students integrate multiple experiential activities, along with their studies in the traditional classroom,” Bachman said. “CAES is well-positioned to support students in making those connections and making a positive impact in their chosen fields immediately upon graduation.”

Contact Director of Student and Employer Engagement Brice Nelson at bricen@uga.edu with internship opportunities, and Amanda Stephens at amanda10@uga.edu with inquiries about other experiential learning opportunities.